UCA Chancellor exhibits her clay vessels
at the 59th Venice Biennale

UCA Chancellor and alum Dame Magdalene Odundo will be exhibiting her clay vessels at this year’s Venice Biennale, which will take place from 23 April to 27 November 2022.

21 Apr 2022

The Corderie

The 59th International Art Exhibition, The Milk of Dreams, is curated by New York-based Italian curator, Cecilia Alemani. The theme of this year’s exhibition takes its cue from the title of a book by Leonora Carrington (1917–2011) in which the Surrealist artist describes a magical world where life is constantly re-envisioned through the prism of the imagination. The exhibition comprises five smaller sections, conceived like time capsules and clustered together to explore certain themes.

Untitled Vessel, Symmetrical Series , 2009 ceramics © Magdalene A.N. Odundo. Courtesy the artist and Thomas Dane Gallery. Photo: Lewis Ronald

Dame Magdalene’s vessels will form part of the exhibition in the Corderie – located in Venice’s ancient military dockyards. The theme for this time capsule is inspired by sci-fi author Ursula K. Le Guin and her theory of fiction, which links the birth of civilisation to tools used for providing sustenance and care: bags, sacks, and vessels. In this section, contemporary anthropomorphic vases from her Symmetrical Series will be displayed alongside more historical pieces.

In a recent article, Dame Magdalene described her most enduring inspiration for her vessels: “As artists and makers of things when we are sculpting, modelling, or forming figures or containers, we are echoing the vessel that is us as human containers of mind and body. The body that carries and contains the essence of life, our organs and soul all in one vessel. It is humanity we want to imbue in that thing we are making as an object.” 

Untitled Vessel, Symmetrical Series , 2017 ceramics © Magdalene A.N. Odundo. Courtesy the artist and Thomas Dane Gallery. Photo: Lewis Ronald

Dame Magdalene is one of 200 artists from 58 countries taking part, and is one of more than 180 artists who have never been in the International Art Exhibition before. And for the first time in the Biennale’s 127-year history, Dame Magdalene, alongside other women and gender non-conforming artists, will make history by being in the majority – a deliberate rethinking of man’s centrality in the history of art and contemporary culture. 

If you are inspired by our Chancellor, check out our Crafts course pages.