Crambe Repetita (repetita): the return of the cabbage AND the flamingos.


A couple of years ago I quoted the Roman satirist Juvenal’s aphorism: occidit miseros crambe repetita magistros – literally cabbage repeated is the death of the wretched masters. Looks like I’m guilty myself.

This is a piece that I made when I was on Fine Art at Leeds Poly, more years ago than I care to remember. The original Pecking Order – apologies for the poor image quality – it’s a photograph of a photograph.


And there is this piece, Flamingo Croquet, that is part of a larger whole that is still not completed, but does have a goblin faced parrot.


Now the time seemed ripe for another Vegetable Torture and the flamingos just wouldn’t go away. I made this when I was on my Dutch residency at EKWC.



It was made (and fired) in several sections, which in part was responsible for its downfall.182D8025-B584-43BB-8D3D-A1304C6EAFFD

Because it was so delicate I bisqued the upper part so I could use it as a firm surface to work against while making the lower section. I do this quite often with delicate pieces. However, a problem cropped up when the second bisque firing accidentally went to a much higher temperature, causing the bisque ware to have a different colour and quality than the first fired pieces.


The kiln hall at the European Ceramic Workcentre (EKWC) in the Netherlands might be called a cathedral of kilns. It lays claim to the biggest kiln in western Europe and it has a team of technicians who are second to none, but ceramics is always an uncertain business and your work is literally tried by fire.


You can see parts of the cabbage and some flamingos on the bottom shelf, before the kiln (gas) was turned on. Unfortunately during the firing there was a software update which overruled the setting to a default position and the kiln over fired by 200 degrees centigrade.


If you look at the reading you will see that it went to 1200 but was set to go to 1060. All the pieces were over fired and unsuitable for the glazes I had painstakingly made.


To cut a long story short, the technicians (bless them) helped me make a new set of glaze because time was running out and I glaze fired the pieces anyway.


But I was not so content with the final result because the glaze on the bottom half of the cabbage does not match that of the top. Looks like I haven’t finished with flamingoes yet.


Or brassicas.

These marvellously bonkers seed packet designs are by Kenny B, an insanely talented graphic designer from Denver, Colorado. You can see more of his stuff here


The flamingos were made during a three month residency at Sunday Morning @EKWC in the Netherlands. The residency was funded in part by the Visual Artist and Craft Makers Award: Dundee in partnership with Creative Scotland. I am very grateful for their support

#VACMAScotland #VACMADundee #EKWC


Penelope Matheson


About pennimania

Artist, entomologist, grumbler.
This entry was posted in Boboli Personality, ceramics, Pleionexia, The Vegetable Tortures and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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