Mestaria Gallery: Michael Rice
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Mestaria Gallery offers one to admire unique ceramic works by Irish artist and designer Michael Rice. To create his distinctive art pieces, he employs ancient Japanese pottery techniques: Raku and Smoke (“Naked”) Raku, one of its types. These involve the removal of pieces from the kiln while still red hot (up to 1000 C). As a result, the outer glaze shatters, and smoke fills the cracks to create traces of firing. Rice also uses terra sigillata (“sealed earth”), a material the ancient Romans and Greeks used to give the ware a specific polished-like shine. 

Michael Rice, Torus, 2010. Earthenware. Technique: Thrown and Turned Terra Sigillata Smoke Fired. Width: 46 cm.

Initially interested in drawing, Rice considers working with clay to be drawing in three dimensions. He calls clay his lifelong companion and acknowledges it with having the ability to transform endlessly. For him, this material is “the perfect substance of metaphor”. While mastering his craft, Rice has also learned several life lessons. He says that working with clay has taught him patience, acceptance, accuracy, repetition, and failure.

About the artist

Michael Rice (born in Castlewellan, Northern Ireland) received a Degree in Fine Craft Design and a Master’s Degree in Multi-Disciplinary Design from the University of Ulster (Coleraine, Northern Ireland). In addition, Rice obtained a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (Art and Design) from the same university. He has also participated in artist residencies in the UK, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, the Emirates, and Indonesia.

Michael Rice, Diffusion Low Form. Earthenware. Diameter: 52 cm.

In his practice, Rice focuses on surface, texture, natural geometry, gestalt principles, and archetypal forms. It is no surprise that he gets his inspiration from nature: born in a coastal town, he would often spend his time on the beach. Some of his artworks resemble marine life forms, while others look similar to coastal rocks.

Rice is not only an artist but also a successful educator. He has taught in schools, colleges, universities, and art centres across the world. In 2010, he moved to Dubai. Here, he has taught in art departments in different schools and at the Dubai Community and Arts Centre. Today, he is an associate professor of Studio Art and Sculpture at the American University of Dubai.

Michael Rice, Axosmilia. Earthenware. Wall hung with separate small mount. 59 x 59 x 8 (D) cm.

Rice has displayed his artworks in many countries; his art pieces have been added to various public and private collections. He has also published articles in prominent international ceramic publications such as Ceramic Review (UK) and Ceramics Art and Perception (Australia). In 2016, the artist won a prize in the Van Cleef and Arpels Middle East Emerging Design Award. Rice is also a member of the International Academy of Ceramics based in Geneva and the IAC UNESCO representative for the UAE.

About Mestaria Gallery

Mestaria Gallery is situated in the Alserkal Avenue Art District (Al Quoz, Dubai). It was founded in the 1990s as a gallery space, but today it is among the region’s leading contemporary art spaces. Specialising in works from accomplished regional and global talent, Mestaria Gallery particularly focuses on artworks of Arabic, African, and Asian origin. 

To learn more about Michael Rice and the gallery, please visit its official website.

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