Mexican designer Liliana Ovalle has created a series of clay vessels based on the geological phenomena of sinkholes as part of a recent exhibition at London Design Festival 2013. The bulbous, irregular shapes replicate the geometry of ground surfaces that have been erased, pulling attention not to mass, but to void.
“The black vessels stand as a representation of the geological phenomena of sinkholes, a portrayal of those voids that emerge abruptly from the ground, dissolving their surroundings into an irretrievable space,” said Ovalle.
Natural sinkholes occur mostly because of soil erosion caused by underground water, and they start developing long before the hole appears. Sinkholes can also be man-made, as a result of mining, construction, or broken waterlines. Heavy weight that presses on soft earth can also cause a sinkhole to develop.
Ovalle produced the vessels in cooperation with Colectivo 1050º, a consortium of Mexican artists and artisans that promote and preserve indigenous craft skills.
“By making reference to different process of extinction, the Sinkhole project aims to reflect and extend the permanence of what seems to be inevitably falling into a void,” explained Ovalle.
The pots are shaped by hand using primitive tools like corn cobs; their blackened finish achieved by exposing the fired clay to open flame or burning ashes. The finished pieces are supported by bespoke oak frames which allude to the intersection of ground surface and hole.
The artist based the forms on documented sinkhole formations, crafting foam models in the particular shapes of these hidden topographies. The end result is strikingly gentler than the reality. This terrifying natural occurrence, when miniaturized, transforms into a geological dollhouse.
Images of Sinkhole vessels from DEZEEN