Katie Rose Johnston, a Scottish artist who works under the name Manifesto, celebrates the age-old practice of collecting and documenting our surroundings in her Curiosity Clouds series. Combining ceramics with art and history, Johnston draws inspiration from natural phenomena, blurring the lines between form and function.
Her fascination with organic forms began after a visit to The Hunterian in Glasgow, where she came across a vitrine displaying bird and insect nests from around the world. It included a cross-section of a termite mound, featuring an elaborate network of compartments used by the insects for ventilation. Johnston was struck by the form’s resemblance to a set of printer’s drawers filled with mudlarked treasures, bits and bobs, and childhood crafts in her mother’s home, evoking a Wunderkammer from an alternate universe.
Johnston creates her Curiosity Clouds using terracotta crank, a type of textured, groggy clay used for making large, durable pots. Rather than relying on sketches, she forms each piece intuitively, enjoying how the material mimics the earthy, organic, meandering texture of the termite mounds. She recently began experimenting with incorporating materials found in the wild, like a slip coating made from clay gathered from her favorite beach. The clay is unseived to retain the small pebbles and roots, giving each piece an elemental quality and deep metallic shimmer.
Johnston announces updates to the Manifesto shop every few months, with the next restock scheduled for August. Her work can be found on her website, and her Instagram account offers updates and insights into her creative process.