Artwork by Ian Garrets
I create hand-built burnished vessels that are inspired by ancient ceramic techniques. These works combine archetypal vessel forms from pre-historic Europe and India, which reflect my ancestral background, with elements and ideas influenced by the contemporary African traditions that I have studied and collected.
Each of my vessels is built with the coil and pinch technique. After careful scraping and smoothing, lines are impressed with the edge of a white mussel shell and the surface finely burnished with agate pebbles. The finished pieces are smoke-fired with wood-bark, cow dung or dried aloe leaves to impart a lustrous black shine or softly varied terracotta colours.
I always choose to make vessel shapes that are inherently useful or functional, that could contain water, foodstuffs or precious objects, even if never put to actual use. The past lifestyles that these forms evoke is a reminder of our dependence on the natural world, the fertility of the land and the value of natural resources, the rhythms and cycles of nature and life.
I impress patterns and motifs on the surface of my vessels which incorporate the formal elements of textural contrast, positive and negative interplay and various complex constructions of symmetry. I am fascinated with the process of pattern making, and view it as an artistic challenge equal to that of figurative representation.
Repeated motifs are used to harmonise with the vessel forms and articulate areas of dynamic rhythm that lead the eye around the surface. Using cryptic references to various ancient or contemporary cultures and the natural environment, I strive to create a vocabulary of motifs in a style that can be identified as uniquely my own.
1997 M.A.F.A. cum laude in Ceramics, University of Natal. 1994 Post Graduate Diploma in Ceramics, University of Natal. 1992 B.F.A. (sculpture) Rhodes University.
2001 First National Bank South African Vita Craft Award (1st Prize). 1998 South African Potter´s Association Annual National Award. 1995 First National Bank Vita Craft Award (2nd Prize). 1995 South African Potter´s Association Annual Regional Award (Natal). 1994 Eastern Province Institute of Architect´s Modus Award.