Work of the Week

Jacqui Poncelet
Handbag, 1985
Ceramic, embossed and painted
84 x 41 x 17 cm
33 1/8 x 16 1/8 x 6 3/4 in


Handbag is an exceptional example of Poncelet's sculpture. The piece at first appears pillowy and malleable, as if it is stuffed fabric. However, this is deceptive; closer inspection reveals this is painted stoneware, an object that has been moulded, fired and meticulously embellished with floral patterns.

The sculpture displays the extent of Poncelet's skill as a maker but also expresses a very profound and personal sense of disquiet. Poncelet presents us with what seems to be a quotidian object and there is a familiarity and feeling of comfort in the decorative patterns that adorn the work. Yet, there is something simultanouesly anthropomorphic about the sculpture; Handbag feels representative of a body and one that is trying its very best to conceal the state of unease it finds itself in.


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Jacqueline Poncelet (b. 1947 Belgium) attended Wolverhampton College of Art and the Royal College of Art Ceramics and Glass MA, where she graduated in 1972, part of a loose cohort of women who disrupted long established notions of ceramic practice in Britain. She continued to work in clay, with major solo exhibitions of increasingly abstract vessels at the Crafts Council in 1981, and wall and floor based ceramic sculpture at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1985.

Poncelet has been an influential teacher and lecturer worldwide. She is represented in important public collections including the British Museum, London, Tate, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, the Stedeljk Museum, Amsterdam, National Museum, Stockholm, the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the National Museum of Victoria, Australia.

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Jacqueline Poncelet, Handbag
Jacqueline Poncelet, Now and Then, Installation shot