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Bente Skjøttgaard (f. 1961) is trained as a ceramicist at Designskolen (School of Design) in Kolding in the years 1982-86. Following a brief period of study at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, she was engaged in Bing & Grøndahl’s product development department in 1986-90. She made her debut in 1990 with a separate exhibition in Royal Copenhagen’s gallery on Amagertorv in Copenhagen.
The work of Bente Skjøttgaard is characterised by being highly experimental – she experiments with the ceramic material (clay and glazing), the ceramic technique and ceramics as function. In her earliest works she explores the ceramic tradition: The pots are cast as in industrial mass production of tableware, and she makes use of industrial, impersonal aesthetics.
She soon starts experimenting, however. Lumps of clay are transformed into functional vases and pitchers with a minimum of working up. And in 1998 she starts modelling her vases. The modelling approach allows a straightforward and spontaneous work process, in which no two vases become alike, and the creation process becomes clear and a major expressive element.
Bente Skjøttgaard is also interested in the glaze. The starting-point of the so-called “Glazed pieces” was to create forms that were well-suited for carrying the glaze. The forms permit the glaze to flow unhampered down the vertical sides of the pot, collect in thick layers on the horizontal surfaces or stiffen like drops on the edge of the pot. The ceramicist has – in part – handed over control to chance.
Ceramics is often connected with function and use. But in Bente Skjøttgaard’s so-called ”Ramifications”, self-supportive constructions consisting of multiple joined curves, there is not much function left. Function is reduced to the hole in the middle. Instead these works come close to being sculptures, as they – rather atypically for ceramics – represent something and are on the verge of being narrative.
Bente Skjøttgaard is deeply rooted in the ceramic tradition, while at the same time challenging it all the time. She experiments with forms and glazes to the very point of what is physically and technically possible. With her exposure of form and decoration she goes beyond the conventions of ceramics and offends good taste. But this is exactly where – on the borderline of the excessive – artistic tension arises and something new is born.