Visual Art: Independent Collector - John Windsor's guide to buying affordable contemporary art

PURE WHITE and delicately modelled, this porcelain cast of an infant's dress by Tiziana Bendall-Brunello seems to contain the breath of life. It speaks of the fragility of childhood and the fleetness of time.

The Italian-born artist has already earned a reputation for her glass bowls in which gold, silver and copper is embedded, and for her glass architectural panels. But it is her casts of socks, shoes - and now little dresses - that she feels impelled to make between commissions, that have caught the eye of exhibition curators.

Janice Blackburn, the independent curator, has put her porcelain dress in her current "Spirit of the Age" exhibition at the Bowes Museum, Barnard Castle, County Durham, and her pair of lead-crystal stiletto-heeled shoes were in this summer's "Absolut Cobblers" exhibition at the Barbican. Next month, the Hayward Gallery will show her ceramic and glass triptych, "Fragments", in its show, "Addressing the Century: 100 Years of Art and Fashion", which explores the radical visual innovations of key figures in art and fashion.

Bendall-Brunello, 39, dipped the 20in high cotton dress repeatedly in porcelain slip until it literally acquired body. After each dip, she accentuated the detail of the frills using a wooden modelling tool. "These dresses are so close to being human; they really talk to you," she says.

So it is a pity that about four out of five crumble or distort into macabre shapes during firing at 1280C. She discards them. The survivors - only four so far - emerge with the fabric incinerated without trace and having acquired a subtle movement of their own. "It's not like carving the drapery of a stone statue," she says. "You have to stand back and let the firing process take its own course". The latest, to which she has become most attached, has braced its tiny shoulders and puffed out its chest.

One of her inspirations is the Sixties Italian arte povera artist Giuseppe Penone, especially his ceramic life-size human figure, "Breath", cast in negative so that the empty cavity seems to materialise.

Reaction to the little porcelain dress is mixed. One viewer, overheard by Bendall-Brunello, called it "The epitome of poetry". Another said: "Oh, god, it's difficult to look at, it's so ghostly". To me, it looks like one of those irresistibly nostalgic 18th century children's garments that turn up in trunks in the attics of the gentry - the last remnant of a life, perhaps snuffed out before its time, now resurrected.

Her pair of slip-cast socks are more homely. They look as if they have just been cast off - crumpled, but still containing the shape of feet.

Bendall-Brunello's degree course at Camberwell College of Arts was in fine art and ceramics. Hence her daring use of kiln technology. One of her works is a little dress sandwiched between two sheets of glass and fired. The dress has disappeared, but its impression in the glass remains, down to the last fibre. She has applied a screenprint of the dress, as it was, to one side of the glass. "I like using glass," she says. "It's like freezing, preserving something. The glass allows you in, but at the same time keeps you at a distance."

Each of the three tile-like shapes of her "Fragments" contains a porcelain cast of a section of a dress embedded in greenish glass. "I wanted to deconstruct something familiar,", she says, "and then put it back together in a different way. It was certainly more involving than previous pieces.

"My work appears to be self-generating. I feel as if I'm following leads, picking up threads."

Prices: pounds 450 - pounds 2,200. Examples of her work will be in Sotheby's annual selling exhibition of contemporary decorative art in February.

Tiziana Bendall-Brunello (01223-411374)

Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan as Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey

film Sex scene trailer sees a shirtless Jamie Dornan turn up the heat

Arts and Entertainment
Fake Banksy stencil given to artist Alex Jakob-Whitworth

art

Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

music
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

film
Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee