Many Layers of Reality
Reality has many layers. We see different things when we regard an object: texture, colour, surface, structures, context. These elements are what catch my eye, whether I am examining an ancient ethnographic collection or visiting a new place.
For the past twenty years I have been fascinated by the layers behind what we see. I have travelled the world to study these layers and tried to incorporate them in my ceramic work. An Egyptian door, a Japanese woodpile, a written character, an overgrown stone… these and many more are all signs that have found their way into my work.
I fire some of my pieces in an electronically controlled kiln. This gives me control. But there are other ways. Raku firing adds a dimension. The wood-burning soda firing smokes the clay and the final soda melt alters it. Four different potters can fire all day and all night and achieve an uninteresting result. Or a sublime result. Working together on the firing makes all the difference. The mutual inspiration. The give and take.
I won't stop developing until my kiln goes cold. I have sought out the people and objects that are important for me. You learn and aspire to new goals.
The name BoxBox - a translation of my own term for the small ceramic caskets - refers to the method of creation: a violent yet focussed kneading of the clay into small caskets, each the product of a long process. The method is very masculine. A solid lump of clay is beaten into a distinctive piece of art. Each lid tells its own story of an individual, textural treatment. Each has been through the mill many times. Each has been pummelled and pressed into its current shape. The old law of action and reaction is what gives them life and expression. They are there to be experienced and enjoyed. They are also the results of many different firing techniques, each inviting you to scrutinise its character.
The exhibition 200 BoxBoxes is the product of years of study of hiding places, caskets, chests, boxes. A long series of improvisations on a favourite theme of mine - and I am far from alone.
The name BoxBox is a translation of the Danish tæske-æske, which describes the process of creating these pieces. A solid lump of clay is beaten to give a surface pattern, then is folded and kneaded into a lid that bears the marks of its tough treatment from hands and sticks. It is a very masculine way to treat the material. After a short drying period, the clay is cut up, hollowed out, is given edges and feet, dried and pre-fired. This is the method I have chosen to bring out a strongly sensual expression. No two pieces are alike. Far removed from the moulded reproductions and delicate pastels we have seen for so many years.
The firing is a study in sensuality. Various types of kiln have been used. One is the electric oxidising kiln. This is where the workshop's warm, friendly, tried and tested and controlled series of glazes comes into play. I can savour beautiful classical music while I work in the peaceful, pleasant work-room adjoining my old town house in the heart of the ancient city of Ribe. Brorson, a famous Danish cleric and hymn-writer, lived just round the corner. His poetry is often in my thoughts, as are the messages of so many other fine thinkers. It means a lot to me to have history and the tales to reflect on.
In a wonderful, scented flower garden, amid blooms and apple-trees, to the south of the town, stand my gas-burning RAKU kilns. There are various sizes and types. This firing is full of intensity and surprises. Heat and determination. Smoke and excitement. I have to be sure I know what I am doing. Each box is fired and treated individually. This and the power of the kiln give the surface life. Pleasure, lightness, happiness and satisfaction - these are the central ingredients in the concept of Raku, say its Japanese inventors. The music here comes from the birds and insects, trying to outdo the hiss of the gas.
Raku is for the eye
Raku is the name of a ceramic tradition from Japan and Korea, with deep roots in tea ceremonies and in Taoism. In the 1500s, Korean potters developed tea cups using simple firing and glazing. Tea ceremony masters approved of the simple beauty and texture, the ideal characteristics of a raku piece.
In recent decades, raku technique has been adopted by western potters as an authentic, distinctive art form. Raku pieces are fired in a small kiln at around 950-1050 degrees centigrade. When the glaze has melted, the piece is removed from the kiln with long tongs and left to cool in a container with inflammable material. The chemicals released during this burning alters the metals present in the glaze. This process also promotes the surface cracking, a typical raku feature. Hay, straw, sawdust or other materials change the surface and the soot can burn in.
The low firing temperature gives deeper colouring and the rough surface breaks the light so that the appearance changes throughout the day, according to the light. Pleasure, lightness, happiness, joy: these are central to raku. The huge temperature differences the pieces are exposed to renders both the body and the glaze porous. The definition of raku is therefore 'low-fired, porous pottery.' With care, raku can be used for vases and other water vessels.
The Workshop and Showroom
Normally, the workshop and showroom are open by appointment only. Please ring and make an appointment on +45 75423864. Due to teaching commitments at the Århus University School of Education and elsewhere, I am not usually available before 3 p.m.
The address is Gravsgade 34, and there is also access from Kirkegårdsallé, when the garden gate is open. Our St.Bernhard dog is wary of uninvited guests - a prior appointment is best for all parties.
Adjoining the workshop is the sales- and showroom, where I can receive groups, associations, art clubs, etc. Numbers are limited to a maximum of 15. All my stoneware is fired in the workshop, while raku work is fired in an orchard just outside Ribe.
- STEN BØRSTING GRAVSGADE 34, 6760 RIBE DANMARK
- Born: 16 August 1946
- Qualifications: Autodidact
- Tel.: +45 7542 3864
- Adult education Centre (Daghøjskolen), Esbjerg - 1993
- South Jutland University (Sydjysk Universitetscenter) - 1993
- Private swimming-pools - 1990
Works sold to:
- Danish Museum for Applied Art (Kunstindustrimuseet)
- South Jutland Art Museum (Sønderjyllands Kunstmuseum)
- Ribe Region Art Foundation (Ribe Amts Kunstfond)
- South Jutland Region Art Foundation (Sønderjyllands Amts Kunstfond)
- Danish State Art Foundation (Statens Kunstfond)
- Japan (3 months) 1990
- Hungary 1996
- Wales 1997
- Cairo 1999 - 2001 - 2002
- Nepal 1999
- Wales 2003 and 2007
- Cairo 2005 and 2007.
Regular sales points:
- Esbjerg Art Museum shop
- Art Museum Janus, Tistrup
- "Købmandsgården", Skælskør
- Grimmerhus Museum shop
- - and from the workshop in Ribe.
- 1988 Pottery by Sten Børsting, South Jutland Art Museum
- 1989 Jutland Summer, Arts & Crafts Museum, Copenhagen
- 1991 Trienalen des deutschen Kunsthandwerk, Schloss Gottorp
- 1991 Samme, Helsingfors, Finland
- 1991 Ribe Art Museum, Centenary Exhibition.
- 1991 Pottery by Sten Børsting, Esbjerg Museum
- 1992 Constellation 1, Trapholt Art Museum, Kolding
- 1993 Constellation II, Artists' House and Haderslev Museum
- 1993-94 Jars & Lids and 24 pieces, Galleri Nørby, Copenhagen
- 1996-06 Exhibition Images, Ribe Viking Museum
- 1997 Horsens Art Museum
- 1998 Fanø Art Museum
- 1998 Hjørring Art Museum
- 1998 Borreby Castle
- 1999 Artists' House, Århus
- 1999 Galleri Fold, Norway
- 1999 Officinet, Danish Arts & Crafts, Copenhagen
- 2000-05-08 Stengalleriet Horsens
- 2000 Ditmarschen, Germany
- 2001-02 Kellinghusen, Germany
- 2001 Fabula, Silkeborg, Talinn, Bergen
- 2001 Gallerie Danoise, Paris
- 2002 Kerameikon, Varazdin, Croatia
- 2003-04-05 Book publication WaddenSea Art
- 2003-04-05-06-07-08 Ecco - Tønder
- 2003 Book publication: Art in Ribe County
- 2004 Basement Gallery, Ribe Art Museum
- 2004 Special edition, art publication Hrymfaxe
- 2005 Samain/ Eckernførde Germany
- 2005 Railway Station - Åbenrå
- 2006-08 Fussingø Castle
- 2006 Ameland, Holland
- 2006 Ribe Viking Museum
- 2007 Janus Art Museum, West Jutland
- 2007 Holmen Museum, Løgumkloster
- 2007 Galleri Bach-Møller, Randers
- 2007 Galleri Rasmus, Kolding, Tønder, Odense, fairs
- 2007 Pakhuset Ikast
- 2008 Art Herning, Art Fair
- 2008 Officinet, Copenhagen
- 2008 Galleri TAVI, Skagen
- 2008 Helsingborg, Sweden
- 2009 Danske bibliotek - Flensborg
- 2009 Designer Zoo - København
- 2009 Esbjerg Rådhus
- 2009 Rumænske Kulturinstitut - Budapest
- 2009 Kescemet - Ungarn
- 2009 Kosice - Slovakiet - European days
- 2009 Keramiekon - Varazdin - Kroatien
- 2009 Varde kunstforening
- 2009 Vestjyllandsudstillingen - Tistrup - Janus Bygningen
- 2009 Galleri Jacobsen - Lønstrup
Links to related websites
- Stengalleriet.dk With a reputation as Jutland's smallest and nicest gallery, in Horsens, in the heart of Denmark, a town with a dynamic focus on culture, architecture and sport, known for its many galleries and fascinating museums, in a beautiful natural setting.
- Welcome to Vadehavskunst.dk We are very proud to announce this new website featuring digital presentations of 26 different artists from the WaddenSea area.
- Danske Kunsthåndværkere Danish Arts and Crafts was set up in 1976 as the interest group for professional creative artists and designers.
- Danish Craftsh.dk Information centre for Danish Arts and Crafts.