Their Finest Hour (2013.18)

Catalogue Record

Collection

Maker

Title

Their Finest Hour

Made in

Manchester

Date

2004

Description

Lidded ceramic vessel with coloured slips and various transfers referencing Classical and Renaissance figures, fields of crosses, and anti-war protests. The lid has an appendix of a 'fallen warrior' referencing Michelangelo's 'Dying Gaul'.

Materials and techniques

Slab-built and hand-modelled in T-material clay. Coloured slips under an earthenware lead glaze, fired to 1120C. In-glaze photocopy transfer prints, on-glaze screen-printed enamel transfer prints, open stock transfers and gold lustre.

Dimensions

length:  34cm
width:  31cm
height:  66cm

Object number

2013.18

Category

References

Featured in Ceramics: Art and Perception TECHNICAL. Issue 102. See related document.

Credit

Purchase of Their Finest Hour (2013) supported by donations to mark Joanna Foster’s contribution as Chair of the Crafts Council.

On view

Short term loan for display in Yinka Shonibare: Criminal Ornamentation, Arts Council touring exhibition at: Attenborought Arts Centre, Leicester 21/09/2018 - 16/12/2018 Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter 19/01/2019 - 16/03/2019 Longside Gallery, Wakefield 05/04/2019 - 16/06/2019 Southampton Art Gallery 28/06/2019 - 28/09/2019
http://www.craftscouncil.org.uk/what-we-do/hidden-agenda-socially-conscious-craft
  • Their Finest Hour, Stephen Dixon, 2004, Crafts Council Collection: 2013.18. Purchase of Their Finest Hour (2013) supported by donations to mark Joanna Foster’s contribution as Chair of the Crafts Council. Photo: Todd-White Art Photography.

  • Their Finest Hour, Stephen Dixon, 2004, Crafts Council Collection: 2013.18. Purchase of Their Finest Hour (2013) supported by donations to mark Joanna Foster’s contribution as Chair of the Crafts Council. Photo: Todd-White Art Photography.

Related documents

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The UK Crafts Council Collection, article by Paul Bailey, courtesy of Ceramics: Art and Perception TECHNICAL
The UK Crafts Council Collection, article by Paul Bailey, courtesy of Ceramics: Art and Perception TECHNICAL

Maker's statement

The piece was made in 2004, following the Iraq war, the ironic title plays on Churchill's famous Battle of Britain speech, which I paraphrased (in anger at the Labour govt. comparing the Iraq war of 2003 to WW2 in the subsequent UK election campaign).

As to the imagery, it's full of references to the war and conflict. The fallen warrior on the lid references Classical and Renaissance statuary (Michelangelo's Dying Gaul etc). The printed head is classical too, Helen of Troy, the face that launched a thousand ships, surrounded by a grid alluding to a field of crosses. The image (in brown) above is taken from one of Leonardo's studies for the Battle of Anghiari. The large printed letters spelling 'RAW' on the side are blown up and collaged from a newspaper clipping of the banner 'No War' of an elderly anti-Iraq-war protester.

The shape of the vessel is derived from the forms of oil drums and petrol cans, thereby incorporating the central narrative of the work into its form and construction.