There are 70,000 individual ceramic vases in this one monumental sculpture by Grégoire Scalabre. The French artist spent several months constructing the unique tribute to the Greek sea nymph Thetis, using a traditional clod-turning technique to make every one of these long-necked vessels by hand. Then, he arranged them on a large resin-and-foam structure in a freeform manner to produce a mesmerizing pattern that appears to move before the viewer's eyes.
The finished work, entitled The Final Metamorphoses of Thetis, was debuted at the Porcelain Virtuosity exhibition, which was part of the Homo Faber Event in Venice. “In Greek mythology, Thetis is a sea nymph with extraordinary powers of transformation. She metamorphoses successively into fire, wind, a tree, bird or tiger, a lion, snake or cuttlefish,” Scalabre explains to My Modern Met.
The artist “pays tribute to the Nereid Thetis, whom he imagines rising from the depths of the sea, majestically draped in a myriad of miniature ceramic amphorae, in the light of Venice: her final metamorphosis…” The limited white and green color palette of the small amphorae is meant to evoke the qualities of water and minerals, tying again into the mythological theme.
Although each of the tiny ceramic vessels measures only a couple of inches in length, the sheer number allowed them to cover the giant sculptural structure measuring six-and-a-half feet high and more than three feet in diameter. Scalabre himself created 80% of the ceramic pieces, while the remaining amount was made by his studio assistants. After the miniatures were fired and cooled, the artist set to work on affixing them in an improvised manner. “It is a free composition with no predetermined pattern,” he says. “This is done instinctively by associating and juxtaposing shapes and colors from the palette collected during firing. The pieces are organized, they interact with each other, and a language develops on the surface.”
Scroll down to see more images of The Final Metamorphoses of Thetis, and follow the artist on Instagram to keep up to date with Scalabre's latest projects.