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In the spotlight: Rotunda Gallery, AUD

  |  February 11, 2014

Earth Transformed exhibition by Michael Rice in Rotunda Gallery, AUD. Image courtesy of Michael Rice.
Earth Transformed exhibition by Michael Rice in Rotunda Gallery, AUD. Image courtesy of Michael Rice.

Today I discoved a little gem hidden inside the visual communications department at American University in Dubai (AUD) - an exhibition space for visiting artists.

I went along to see an exhibition of works by Michael Rice, an expert in ceramics and was pleasantly surprised by the innovative use of the space. Couched in the corner as you enter the faculty building, the Rotunda Gallery, is home to the Visual Cultures Forum that sees a different exhibition in the space each week.

Rice's show, titled Earth Transformed shows a collection of cleverly crafted ceramics, vases, bowls and spiral-shaped sculptures that experiment with different surfaces and materials. "I'm interested in finishes and particularly those that give the work an archetypal quality," he explains.

The pieces are made using different clays such as terra sigillata and raku and they have been finished in varying techniques creating textures and colours that make them all individual. The spiral-shaped pieces are called coriolis and are probably the most visually striking.

"The spiral is ubiquitous for human beings," says Rice. "Astronomers see its structure in celestial bodies; scientists see it in the infinitesimal DNA helix. I think of it as a symbol and signature of the infinite.

"In my work Iím attempting to create surfaces and textures that have a timeless quality, something that is difficult to date to a specific culture or place. This complemented with the form of the pieces creates a synthesis which I feel gives them an archetypal presence."

The exhibition was organised by Luis Castaneda, associate professor of graphic design and Dr Woodman Taylor, the chair of the department.

"In terms of education this kind of platform is key. Michael is a resident artist in UAE and having his work exhibited here gives the students the chance to see the work as well as interact with the artist," says Castaneda.

Rice, who is also a visual art teacher at Repton School in Dubai, can be contacted on†mr_ceramics@hotmail.com.

His pieces are on display in AUD until the end of this week and can be also be found in Caspaiou, a boutique interiors store on Sheikh Zayed Road.