Martin Jarman lures you into viewing his incredible bag like sculptures with their brilliant blue and white forms, and glimmering 24 karat gold trim. However, when you move closer you realize, those intriguing small blue designs are actually decals of decomposing birds with their bellies full of plastic and that’s when you realize his sculptures resemble plastic bags.
Martin, who is graduating from his final year at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design (NBCCD) in Graduate Studies, has been obsessed with two thoughts this year. He’s always wanted to reconcile making ceramic statement pieces with environmental and social issues of consumerism.
Ceramics are permanent and have been found dating back 1000’s of years. Pottery is dug up and judged for its form, aesthetic and purpose. Martin feels future humans will dig up plastic bags – a “legacy of waste” and judge both the bags and us, from our time period.
Graduate Studies was a natural choice for Martin, as he had graduated from NBCCD’s 2 year, Diploma in Ceramic Design and was successful at obtaining a pottery job with a company in Prince Edward Island. Martin had originally come to NBCCD to study fashion but had growing doubts about the ethics of the fashion industry as a whole. It was while in he was in NBCCD’s 1 year Certificate in Foundation Visual Arts that Martin discovered he loved the feel of clay on his hands, and saw the raw intensity and passion of his instructor Peter Thomas, which convinced him he belonged in the ceramics studio.
While Martin enjoyed his production work at his job, and was allowed to pursue his own work during off hours, it wasn’t until the company he worked for was changing hands that he made the decision to invest in one more year at NBCCD in the Graduate Studies program. Martin claims that he really does believe that ceramics is where he should be. He loves to create a visual language by using a craft medium, and he loves figurative sculptural work. Martin believes the round table discussions and multiple critiques would be something he wouldn’t have been able to find the time for, or done at the scale that the college allows.
The creative process has been quite a journey for Martin. He loved the idea of making art pieces that spoke to consumerism but didn’t know what to do. History gave Martin a beginning point. He was struck by the painted aesthetic of floral arts and crafts which pushed back against the industrialization of the craft industry in the late 1800’s. He was inspired by the Greek amphora shape that always had a foot, a lip and handles like hands…upright and asking to be grabbed. He knew this was going to combine with his issue of consumerism. From there, Martin did a lot of experimenting with plastic imprints, working with paper clay, trying to throw forms. It wasn’t until he saw a teapot that had been knitted and dipped into porcelain that he suddenly knew he was going to try cotton soaked with paper clay slip, dropped over a vase form and fired. Martin realized he was on to a process he had never seen before. From there, his ideas ranged from, how would this look large scale, to how to figure out the technical process and how big could he build for the NBCCD kilns. Martin said he had to start from scratch for skills and that everything was pure trial and error.
Next year Martin will be returning to work part time on Prince Edward Island with the same rejuvenated pottery business he worked at before. He will have a little studio, a flexible work schedule and time to further explore the conceptualization of vessels that highlight the effects of consumerism on society. Martin has a future eye on going on to receive his bachelors and masters in Fine Art. He also has an incredible idea for casting very large figurative sculptures in ceramics.
With a world beginning to wake up to the effects of plastic and its environmental impact, with a public who are starting to talk about minimalizing their houses, possessions and wardrobe, Martin Jarman’s work could not be more on point. His beautiful incredible bag sculptures are going to draw you in, and then shock you with the fine detailed portrayals of the end results of our society’s excesses.