Corresponding with Jeju Scoria

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McHugh was one of 13 artists invited to participate in The Clay Reader: Scoria, Scoria Jeju Scoria, an artist in residence programme organised by City Art Community and funded by the Jeju Culture and Art Foundation. The project was to be held on Jeju Island, South Korea, in August 2020, and the aim was for participants to research and respond creatively to Jeju scoria, a volcanic soil particular to this island. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the residency was cancelled. Instead, participants were sent a small quantity of scoria to work with in their respective countries.

In this paper, McHugh reflects on the challenges of conducting an artist residency remotely, arguing that while this mode of working poses challenges, particularly in terms of access to authentic contexts and stimulation, it also provides an opportunity to explore new models of interaction. Originally a site-specific project, restrictions on travel meant that this became a material-specific endeavour, conducted remotely by correspondence through emails and the postal service. The paper documents a series of material experiments undertaken to understand the material affordances of the scoria. Following Ingold (2013), this process of enquiry is construed as a further ‘correspondence’ between maker and material, where both are linked in a process of discovery. Rather than existing in stasis, the scoria is presented as ‘vibrant matter’ (Bennet 2010), a substance which invites us to consider the generative potential of materials and understand that both we and they are in a constant process of ‘becoming’ (Ingold 2013).

The material experiments with scoria resulted in a new body of research artefacts. These vessels were made by oxidation firing the scoria in plaster and molochite moulds to temperatures between 1260-1280oC in a process similar to the pâte de verre glass technique. Although the scoria’s lack of plasticity is problematic from a conventional ceramics perspective, the outputs demonstrate that it does have potential as a creative medium with particular material attributes and links to a specific locale. The process of enquiry was documented in a short film.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWhen, in what form, shall we meet again - Jeju Scoria
EditorsKihwan Kwon, Hyosun Kim
Place of PublicationKorea
PublisherCity Art Community
Number of pages18
ISBN (Print)9791197299919
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 27 Dec 2020


  • Scoria
  • Ceramics
  • Jeju
  • Korea
  • Art


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