‘Everything is biography… What we make, why it is made… Everything is collage…’

Michael Ondaatje: Divisidero


Each piece is a story, sometimes a collection of stories. In each piece is a memory of a time, a place, a season. Something was collected, gathered, brought home: a memento. A leaf pressed between the pages of a heavy old book, reminds me of a walk in a Garden. A shell was picked up on a beach by a friend. The husk of a flower pod was found one autumn. Driftwood goes grey on a table in the sun, where once it lay at my feet on a beach. A bean pod dry and pale green reminds me of a summer lunch in a warm garden. These inspire a vessel, through a combination of their form, colour, texture and the response evoked in me. I do not wish to re –present the object or experience, but rather create an abstracted expression of the memory.

I build the pots by the coiling method, placing one coil of clay on top of another, blending, smoothing, shaping, sculpting as I go along. I refer to drawings I have made and to the gathered memento itself. The work forms through my hands, my memories are with me, as well as the present: what I am reading, or the words from a poem or a song repeating in my head. Sometimes it is a soothing process, sometimes I fight with the vessel: there is no template for the shape. It evolves in fragments, in stops and starts, like memory itself.

My kiln is named Beatrice, for both Dante’s Beatrice who leads him through an inferno, to paradise and Beatrice Wood, a ceramist who made beautiful pots until she was over a hundred years old, retaining a sense of curiosity and joy in her creative process.

After bisque firing in Beatrice, I layer washes of stains and oxides in a method akin to painting in oil or water colour. I do not know what the end result will be with any precision. Alchemy happens in the intense heat of the kiln. I enjoy the sound of the names of the oxides: chromium, copper carbonate, cobalt, titanium, manganese, iron oxide. I combine these together and with coloured stains, over or under one another, washed on and wiped away.

Another firing follows and perhaps a third where gold or bronze lustre may be added.

I am exploring burnishing as a finish, in combination with using natural bees wax to seal and add shine to pieces. It is my intention that the vessel remains organic, raw, in feel and finish, from inspiration to completion.

I am not sure of the series to follow, what I will find and from where, as pieces of my life in Cape Town. I do know I will be compelled to collect and gather, my hands will coil memories, and Beatrice will fire the textures and colours of my life into something permanent, a vessel a receptacle, a pot.

Commissions and assignments undertaken for private or Interior Design clients.