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Templum of a Precious Thing of No Value, A Shapeless Thing of Many Shapes

Gardiner Museum, Toronto | 2020

Clay holds the ability to become something. It is not passively waiting to be formed but ready to actualize a resurgent formative potential according to its own generative order, for its own sake. Clay embodies the potentiality of change. The bentonite clay I am using has been ground down to a particle form, reduced to a sheer elemental state that is more purely and essentially ‘raw.’ In this condition it evokes the alchemical and philosophical notion of prima materia – the materialized principle of potentiality underlying the variability and changeability of all substance and form.


Templum designated the quadripartite vault of the sky in ancient Roman times whose sacred order was transferred to the earth in the foundation rites of cities. Bringing together the heavenly and earthly templa opened a reciprocity between the celestial order of being and the terrestrial order of becoming – between the geometric and the generative. TEMPLUM OF A PRECIOUS THING OF NO VALUE, A SHAPELESS THING OF MANY SHAPES invokes the figural structure of the templum in counterposing a light and water-filled membrane in four sections suspended above a field of powdered bentonite clay. Water drips down through the membrane onto the bentonite field to enact an exchange between the two structures, and between their respective temporal, material and formal orders and qualities. The purely raw potentiality of clay is actualized within the templum structure to engage our perception and experience of our own corporeal being and becoming.

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