You probably don’t think of magic when you hear the word” ceramics.” However, using this erratic medium requires a combination of sorcery, creativity, and ultimately acts of faith. A ceramicist can never be certain that the finished product will match the ingredients.
While every medium offers unique possibilities, ceramics, with their ethereal workings in the firing process, bewitch, says Christian Buchner, who will be featured in An Act of Faith, a new exhibition at Spier Wine Farm that runs from June to October.
However, there are other difficulties that ceramic artists must overcome as well. After seeing an unusually small exhibition of the annual Ceramics South Africa exhibition in Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape, Chief Curator at Spier Art Trust Tamlin Blake made the decision to organize the exhibition.
According to Blake,” There were very few pieces on display, which was shocking.” Of course, Covid played a role, but frequent loadshedding was also problematic.
It can take up to 12 hours to” Fire” or heat an electric kiln, which is the most popular type, to the proper temperature before glazing. To produce the desired artistic results, the power supply must remain constant throughout the firing process. Rolling blackouts have therefore added complexity to their work.
According to Blake,” These artists are struggling just to practice their craft.” ” Spier Arts wanted to assist them and give them a chance by giving them access to South Africa’s larger market and an exciting exhibition space.”
More than 40 ceramic works by artists from all over the nation are included in An Act of Faith. Despite the fact that each piece of art is distinctive, some common themes have emerged.
The idea of transformation, according to Blake, is” endemic to the ceramics-making process.” Clay is created and transformed into art by the interactions of mud, water, earth, and fire. However, there is no assurance of the outcome. Therefore, there is unquestionably a magical quality.
The exploration of memory and physical and emotional healing by artists is closely related to the manifestation of transformation.
Artists’ own interpretations of the afterlife, as well as depictions of religious symbols and artifacts, all contribute significantly to spirituality. For instance, Xirilo Wyne Ngobeni’s creation based on funeral urns is a tribute to their deceased mother.
Every ceramic creation has a narrative. The viewer gains a strong, intimate, and personal connection to the artists and their work through the use of art.
Some of the featured artists have prioritized working with recycled clay that has been reused from previously beloved creations, which is an intriguing aspect that fits with Spier’s regenerative business and sustainability principles. Others have used this” wild clay,” as featured artist Mark Dodd refers to it, to dig, process, and experiment with in order to find their own.
Ceramics are primarily about functionality, whether they are wild or recycled, telling a tale or expressing spiritual truth. So, amid the splendor of the sublime, be prepared for a hint of practicality.
Spier is such a fervent supporter of African artists and their works because, like food and wine, art is best shared. Spier, who maintains one of the nation’s largest collections of modern art, believes that the visual arts have the ability to instruct and inspire, and he exhorts us all to interact with one another and the outside world in an open manner. Spier is optimistic about the future of South African art given the region’s vibrant artistic scene and extensive cultural heritage.
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