The Avon Series
By Joanna Mires
For her solo show at Nancy Victor, Joanna Mires is recreating a series of vintage Avon perfume bottles which depict a host of animals. Where once these bottles were attractive but essentially practical containers, they are now mere ornaments; far from reducing them to something crass, this elevates them to the level of fine art.
Joanna cuts against the fashionable suspicion of ornament by making things that are seductively nostalgic. On the one hand, they are nostalgic for a golden era of the Avon lady and her spectacular parties adored by housewives, but on the other hand they leave the viewer wanting for a simpler art of decoration and subtlety. It is here that the contemporary aesthetic and timeless ideas meld perfectly: the clean lines afforded by the casting process and the smooth unglazed finish effortlessly preserve the old-world dignity of Avon and recontextualise it in the sensuous present of our artworld. The result is a celebration of classic design that is comfortably mystifying, since until you know that these are slightly smaller castings of Avon perfume bottles, all you see is a pristine petrified menagerie and that parade of animals unfolds like a curious dream. The secret to Joanna's work, however, is greater than the objects themselves: even when you have seen the works before, you are constantly delighted by their arrangement, since the objects come together to create site-specific installations.
Mires completed study on the BA Ceramics course at Camberwell College of Arts in 2011, and was recently chosen to exhibit at the Zabludowicz Collection as part of Future Map 11, had work on sale at Selfridges and has exhibited at the V&A as part of the London Design Festival.