Hermetically Sealed

A recent visit to the British Ceramics Biennial offered an unexpected gem. "After The Death Of The Bear" by Phoebe Cummings sits in the centre of the room enshrouded by an element of mystery with large sheets of plastic covering the entire piece creating it's own micro climate inside. As you step into this space you enter a magical landscape which has been taken from one of Spode's plate design's ' The Death of the Bear '.

In truth, I wasn't as interested in the ceramic side of things as in the way the piece worked. From the outside, there was a sense of a crime-scene - a bit of land sealed off. The floodlights in the factory space shone on to the polythene sheeting and gave a silhouetted sense of the inner scene. 

Then as you stepped inside through a slatted thick plastic door, the sense of breaking a seal, and entering  another, protected, venerated, archived place took hold.

This sense of a place being sealed off resonated with me - it was how i have been thinking about the many post-demolition former residential and work sites around the City that are now sealed off from human presence and interaction by a combination of rails, and heras and palisade security fencing.

In effect these plots, strips and patches of land have been sealed - or at least the attempt at a seal has been made, as the human is a resourceful and often disobedient creature - and exist with minimum management in a human vacuum.

hermetic seal has the quality of being airtight. In common usage, the term often implies being impervious to air or gas.

The word hermetic comes from the name of the Greek god Hermes, via the vocabulary of alchemy. The alchemists invented a process for making a glass tube airtight, which was used in distillation. The process used a secret seal whose invention was attributed to the legendary patron of alchemy, Hermes Trismegistos.

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