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STARworks, work in progress, 2017 (Star, NC, USA)

20 tons of local kaolin clay have been dropped down a slope just outside the clay factory here in Star, North Carolina, in the US. North Carolina is famous for its amazing clays and the oldest and largest clay community in the US is located here because of that. An old sock factory has been transformed into a clay factory that processes the different local clays into fine, homogeneous blocks for use by the local potters and other ceramicists. The spacious building also houses a ceramic residency centre and a glass workshop, both well-equipped and with lots of space for the artists. I have been invited to realize a large scale project prior to the Woodfire Conference, which will be held here from June 8 to 11. I choose this slope, just outside the clay factory, as the perfect location for my work. The rough kaolin clay, straight from the quarry in nearby Cameron, is full of violet and yellow minerals. I have had help with the preparation of the clay from other residents and local artist, David Freeman. We used our hands and feet, and a spade, in contrast to the mechanical process, which takes place inside the factory. After shaping the clay I have overflowed the sculpture with a red slip made of Okeewemee clay, which comes from the next village. The red slip forms a new skin over the white clay and will turn into the many shades of human skin during the firing.The work will be fired and then revealed during the Woodfire NC event. I will add images as the project develops. This project has been made possible by a award I received from the Lighton International Artist Exchange Program, and, of course, by the STARworks centre itself. www.woodfirenc.com, www.starworksnc.org, www.liaep.org/2017-award-recipients/.
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Under Ground, 2016 (Tilburg, the Netherlands)

Under Ground - 60 tons of clay, a digger, a body, was part of the exhibition Luster – Clay in Sculpture Today, in park De Oude Warande in Tilburg, organized by Fundament Foundation. www.luster16.nl The number of exhibitions on the use of clay and ceramics in contemporary art has been remarkable in recent years. Luster – Clay in Sculpture Today was in line with this renewed interest, but went further by challenging the artists to create new works for the public space of park De Oude Warande. The participating artists were: Caroline Coolen (BE), Daniel Dewar & Grégory Gicquel (GB/FR), Alexandra Engelfriet (NL), Guido Geelen (NL), Cameron Jamie (USA), Markus Karstieβ (DE), Marien Schouten (NL), Johan Tahon (BE), Gert & Uwe Tobias (DE), Anne Wenzel (DE), Jesse Wine (GB). 60 tons of blue/gray, smooth Dutch river clay was delivered in the park straight from the bed of the river Waal. With a large shovel the clay was laid on the slopes of a natural hollow on a beautiful location among the trees. With my new tool the digger I softened and prepared the thick layer of clay which I subsequently shaped with my body in the course of 4 days. Photographer Liedeke Kruk was commissioned by Fundament Foundation to follow the process of making. Cofinanced by Stokroos foundation: www.stokroos.nl
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Rondom Waalkens, work in progress, 2017 (Finsterwolde, the Netherlands)

In april 2017 it was 10 years ago since the farmer and gallery owner Albert Waalkens died. An occasion to remember the meaning of this remarkable 'Groninger', the farmer, who in the turbulent 1960s was figurehead and catalyst for the arts, land-art in particular, in Finsterwolde, Groningen and the Nehterlands. In 2000 I spent two months as a resident at his gallery, after which Carrie de Swaan made the film 'Tracks in the flats' in the nearby Dollard. I, as well as two other artists, Merijn Vrij and Marc van Vliet, have been invited to come back to this special place to realise a large scale land-art project. In the meadow at the back of Gallery Waalkens a large bowl like shape has been dug, 33 meters long, 23 meters wide and 2,60 high in the middle. On the slopes of this basin 50 cubic meters of rough clay, app. 80 tons, dug up from a nearby field, have been deposited, which I will shape during 4 days mid-June. On June 17th, the day of the Art Manifestation ‘Rondom Waalkens’, at 16h, I will shape the clay during a performance, open to the public. For more information see: www.oldambtcultuur.nl/programma
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Cave of Forgotten Dreams, 2016 (Alkmaar, the Netherlands)

For the exhibition Cave of Forgotten Dreams, curated by Gerda Kruimer, I made an imprint on fabric of body imprints in clay. Dimensions: 6,50 m x 2,50 m. The invitation letter for participation in the exhibition stated: "Cave of Forgotten Dreams is the title of a film by Werner Herzog about the caves of Chauvet Pont d’Arc in the Ardêche, France in which 32000 year old wall paintings have been found. Let the title of his film inspire you to make a work using charcoal as your basic material".
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Clay Gulgong 2016 (Gulgong, NSW Australia)

Gulgong has hosted an international ceramics festival every three years since 1989. Initiated by the late Janet Mansfield, it is now organized by her son Neil Mansfield and his wife Bernadette Mansfield. Clay Gulgong 2016 was a great event full of workshops by leading artists in the field of ceramics and many lectures and conferences (see www.mansfieldceramics.com/clay-gulgong/about/) I was invited to realize a large scale site specific clay work on the land surrounding Morning View, the Mansfield’s beautiful family mansion, just outside Gulgong. The region surrounding Gulgong has a massive resource of clay. These deposits have been mined over many years for industrial use. The 10 tons of clay for my project were a mixture of locally mined kaolin and red clay dug straight form the earth at Morning View. Different percentages of the two clays were used in the various batches mixed. This created a variety of colours which were consequently blended by my body shaping the clay. The work will later be fired and I am very curious to see how this mixture of colours will come out of the firing. I had a great team of helpers: my assistants Rachael McCallum and Evie Core worked relentlessly during the whole project. Peter, who works at Morning View, and Max Mansfield did a lot of clay mixing before the event. Daniel Lafferty manned the Bobcat, speeding up the mixing process. Bronwyn Kemp joined the team and many others gave a hand from time to time. Neil Mansfield supervised and coordinated the project.
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Large kiln sculptures, 2015 (St. Martin de Salencey, France)

Both these large sculptures were shaped directly in my trench kiln and subsequently fired. They are made of St Amant-de-Puisaye stoneware clay. The differences in temperature throughout the kiln brought out the whole range of colours concealed in the dark grey raw clay. The path of the flame is visible in the finished piece. The first sculpture was made as a whole, using my body to shape the clay. While drying it cracked into large pieces.These were taken out of the kiln and reassembled in the exhibition space of Centre Keramis, La Louvière, Belgium.The second sculpture consists of 19 separate pieces that fit together like a puzzle.These were all fired together as one large piece. In the exhibition space of L'Arc, scene nationale in Le Creusot, France, where these images where taken, the piece was placed on rocks, lifting it of the ground.
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Sonorité d'Argile, 2013 (Ciry-le-Noble, France)

'Sonorité d'Argile' , a performance in collaboration with Dutch saxophonist, clarinettist and shakuhachi player Ab Baars, took place on August 9, 2013, at La Briqueterie in Ciry-le-Noble, France. The deserted brick-factory, now museum, was not long ago part of a thriving industry. By using raw clay, the material on which this industry was based, in a poetic project, our performance became part of the effort to give location and material a new part in the history of the region. 25 tons of clay directly from the quarry was deposited in the basin previously used for storage of coal for the big kilns. Children and adults from around the area came to help with the preparation of the clay. Ab Baars: “In my music, in the improvisations, I search continuously for the unpolished, the disruptive, the abrasive. While improvising, groping, stumbling, I form my material. The way Alexandra Engelfriet works with raw clay, kneading, beating and kicking it, often with a rugged, rough structure as an end result, is interesting and inspiring. Because of this relationship I am excited about this collaborative project.”
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Tranchée, 2013 (Le Vent des Forêts, La Meuse, Lorraine, France)

Le Vent des Forêts is a vast sculpture park which consists of more than 5000 hectares of forest and is situated in the heart of the area La Meuse in the Lorraine in France. The park accommodates more than 100 works of art. Supported by the residents of 6 farming and forestry villages each year 7 contemporary artists are invited to realize an outdoor project during the first two weeks of July. This year the Association Le Vent des Forêts invited me to participate. With 20 tons of clay I have sculpted the walls of the middle 10 meters of a 50 meter long trench, dug out in the limestone ground on a hilltop in the forest near the village of Pierrefitte-sur-Aire. A kiln has been constructed enclosing this work and it has been fired day and night during a week. The finished work is now part of Le Vent des Forêts sculpture park which is open to the public from March through September. The realization of this work would have been impossible without the help, support and participation of many people from the nearby villages and people coming from farther away to participate in the firing. A special thanks goes to the director of the Association Le Vent des Forêts, Pascal Yonet and his production assistant Romain Barré, for their support and trust and for making this project possible. Tuilerie Royer (Soulaines-Dhuys), Chaudronnerie Renneson (St-Mihiel), the Association Expression (Bar-le-Duc) and the volunteers of Le Vent de Forêts have provided materials, craftsmanship and indispensable help. Marc Higgin should be mentioned, for his unrelenting and energetic assistance during the realization of the sculpture, and Thiébaut Chagué, whose counsel for the construction of the kiln and the firing process has been of great value. A film of the process of making has been made by Estelle Chrétien, see under Film. Le Vent des Forêts, Mairie, 21 rue des Tassons, 55260 Fresnes-au-Mont, Tél. +33 (0)3 29 71 01 95, E-mail : leventdesforets@mcom.fr, More information : www.leventdesforets.com
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Tranchée, 2013, the making (Le Vent des Forêts, La Meuse, Lorraine, France)


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Kiln walls, 2010-2013 (St. Martin de Salencey, France)

In 2010 I built a trench-kiln for woodfiring at my farmhouse in St Martin-de-Salencey in France (see: Trench-kiln, 2010-2013 (St. Martin de Salencey, France)). Originally intended to fire sculptural objects I covered the sides of the kiln with an insulating layer of clay mixed with sawdust. The beauty of these walls after the first firing incited me to develop them into a sculptural work in itself. A couple of times I repeated the procedure of covering the walls with clay, sculpting them with my body and then firing them. The layer of clay became thicker and the work more sculptural and 3dimensional.
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Trench-kiln, 2010-2013 (St. Martin de Salencey, France)

In 2010 I built a trench-kiln for wood-firing at my farmhouse in St Martin-de-Salencey in France. It is dug in a hillside and consists of a simple trench followed by a 5 m long flue, which gradually goes up and ends in a small chimney. The kiln functions surprisingly well considering its simplicity, reaching up to 1300˚ C. During the past couple of years the kiln has been fired repeatedly and has gradually become bigger. Now the original roof made of soft bricks on metal bars has been replaced by a 3,5 m wide roof made of metal frames and ceramic fibre, which makes it possible to adjust the kiln size and shape to my needs.
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La Fonderie, 2011 (Carouge, Switserland)

In les Halles de la Fonderie, the huge industrial space of on old foundry, I worked for a week with 10 tons of clay from the brick factory Bardonnex SA. This project was part of the exhibition CERAMICS NOW!, itself part of the 12e Parcours Céramique Carougeois in Switserland.
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Reclaim, 2011 (Hobart, Tasmania, Australia)

In the courtyard of the old Jam Factory in which the Tasmanian School of the Arts in Hobart is housed, I worked during a week with a field of yellow clay, straight form the quarry and feet wedged by the students of the sculpture department. A film has been made by Glen Dunn. The project was an initiative of Creative Arts - Tasmanian Polytechnic, supported by the School of Art - University of Tasmania and sponsored by the Pathways Project. See also under Film
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Dust to Dust, 2011 (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Clay is the material from which everything arises and into which everything returns. With 7 tons of earthy clay straight from the Kleine Gelderse Waard, the last river wash-land in the Netherlands that wasn’t flooded at that time, I realized a sculpture/installation/film project in the space of Punt WG in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in collaboration with filmmaker Marlou van den Berge. The film closely follows the process of the wetting and kneading of the clay to make it workable and the development of the work in the space. The tendency of the sloppy material to fall apart and the fabric needed to keep it together, became the leading elements in the process. Helena Goldwater: “The film follows the actions and repetitions with the clay that are simple in their execution, but there is a complexity in the potentiality of meaning. The corporeal and visceral come through and lead towards an intimate work but also devastating in terms of life and death; horror on personal and wider scales.” See also under Film
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Raw Material, 2011 (Ringebu, Norway)

A raw clay project organized by Torbjørn Kvasbø in Ringebu, Norway, in June 2011. Four artists: Torbjørn Kvasbø, Neil Brownsword, Katrine Køster Holst and I worked together during a week with 30 tons of clay from a brick factory, pressed in hard blocks, in a small, rough industrial space of which the floor was covered with a thick layer of black sand used for sandblasting, and with the help of a bobcat. Marlou van den Berge made a film of this collaboration, full of surprising moments emerging out of the process.
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Marl Hole, 2009 (Stoke on Trent, England)

A raw clay project organized by Neil Brownsword as part of the first British Ceramic Biennial in Stoke-on-Trent, England. During 5 days Neil Brownsword, Torbjørn Kvasbø, Pekka Paikkari and I explored the material of clay in its rawest state, at the location where it is dug out of the ground: Europe’s biggest clay-quarry (marl hole), Ibstock Brick’s Gorsty Quarry in Knutton, Stoke on Trent. The film by Johnny Magee documenting the process was shown at the Airspace Gallery in Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent, during the British Ceramic Biennial festival. Ibstock’s workmen and their diggers made it possible to cope with the huge scale of the quarry. In this project physical interaction with the clay and mechanization came together. The film by Johnny Magee follows the work processes of all four artists. See also under Film .
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Performance in the Airspace Gallery, 2009 (Stoke on Trent, England)

During the opening weekend of the British Ceramic Biennial in Stoke-on-Trent, I worked for two hours in a clay floor, as a performance, in the gallery where the Marl Hole film was shown. The remaining piece became part of the exhibition. Stacey Booth: "Alexandra Engelfriet created a performance which involved manipulating the clay with only her body and the aid of water to wet the clay. This was very intense as she recreated the techniques used in the Marl Hole film. To be confronted with what you had viewed on a screen and to see how the material reacted in the flesh certainly put things into perspective. Even though the area of the clay which she was manipulating was on a minute scale compared to the quarry, you realise just how exhausting working with such a material in this way is. As the clay become wet and sticky, Alexandra had to fight with the material to free herself ready for her next move. As the performance progressed you could see the fatigue consuming her as well as the material covering more and more of her body resulting in an epic struggle; again symbolising with the pottery industry and the struggles which it faced in its later years being consumed by capitalism and eventually being exported abroad to allow greater profits."
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Nederlandsche Bank, 2001 (Amsterdam, the Netherlands)

As part of the exhibition Onroerend Goed/Real Estate I made a raw clay sculpture with one ton of clay on a high wall.
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Silt in Gallery de Boer-Waalkens, 2000 (Finsterwolde, the Netherlands)

The silt of the flats of the Dollard was brought inside and poured down the wall of Gallery de Boer-Waalkens in Finsterwolde.
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Tracks in the Flats, 1998-2003 (Ameland and the Dollard, the Netherlands)

As part of 'Kunstmaand Ameland 1998' I worked for 6 weeks in the flats of the Waddenzee, the inner sea of the Netherlands. In the 6 hours that the tide was out I made vast sculptures, which, when the tide turned, were swallowed up by the sea. To work in the hard sand off Ameland, a spade and dogged labour were required. In the Dollard, near Groningen, where I spent 2 months as an artist-in-residence at Gallery de Boer-Waalkens during the summer of 2000, the seabed consists of soft silt in which I eventually immersed my whole body to shape the material. During the next 2 years I returned regularly with filmmaker Carrie de Swaan for the making of 'Tracks in the Flats'. See also under Film.
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Flowing Sand, 1998 (Zaanstad, the Netherlands)

At the invitation of Art Center Zaanstad I worked for a month in Monumento Urbano, a building by Aldo Rossi in Zaandstad. By moving a heap of sand along the walls I explored its shape and boundaries. The passage of sand was marked by splashing mud against the lines it created with the wall.
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Via Cava, 1998 (Amsterdam, the Netherlands)

Two huge concrete spaces on the top floor of one of the old warehouses in the harbor of Amsterdam called Pakhuis Afrika, 20 tons of clay, 60 bales of straw and 6 months of hard labour during the winter of 1997/98. Exploring the vast empty space by walking, meandering lines asserted themselves. Building on these lines layer upon layer of thick slip mixed with straw, these lines grew into walls.
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Skin off the Earth, 1996 (Eindhoven, the Netherlands)

This project was done in the exhibition space of the faculty of architecture of the Technical University Eindhoven. The skin made of wool soaked in a mixture of earth and glue, was formed on the sand, then 'peeled' off and hung on the six meter high wall.
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Sand II, 1994/1995 (Amsterdam, the Netherlands)

For two years I investigated the relationship between matter, space, light and movement by working with an increasing amount of sand in a basement in the center of Amsterdam.
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Sand I, 1994/95 (Amsterdam, the Netherlands)

For two years I investigated the relationship between matter, space, light and movement by working with an increasing amount of sand in a basement in the center of Amsterdam.
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Clay, 1991 (Amsterdam, the Netherlands)

For a year I worked with 5 tons of raw clay in a basement in the center of Amsterdam. It was the beginning of my investigation into the experience of working with clay and other earthly matter.

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