Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Two ceramic Exhibitions open in Gauteng Johannesburg April 2013

Karen van der Riet. Photography by the blogger, Eugene Hon

Sandy Godwin
Photography by
Eugene Hon 

At the weekend two very special ceramic exhibitions opened in Gauteng. The first was an exhibition titled fragile, ceramic work by a group of ceramists calling themselves the porcelain collective. This exhibition opened on Saturday morning at the Liz Loubser Gallery in Risidale Johannesburg. (address below).
Dale Lambert, Photography by Eugene Hon
Liz Louser Gallery: 11 Cecillia Avenue, Risidale. Gallery hours are Monday to Friday 8:30-17:00 and Saturday from 10:00 – 16:00. For more information contact Erika at 011 782 4051 or email

John Shirley, Photography by Eugene Hon.

Marchand van Tonder the renowned designer and master jeweller gave the opening address expressing his admiration for the work on display. He referred to his own personal introduction to clay many years ago as a student, and how he detested every minute of the experience, referring in particular to the clay dust. 
His dreadful first encounter with clay however instilled in him an even greater appreciation and admiration for the work of ceramists; especially those artists that have mastered the craft of working in clay as demonstrated in the fragile porcelain vessels on display at the gallery.

Dale lambert, Photography by Eugene Hon

Eunice Botes.
Their whiteness, delicacy and fragile forms and shapes were enhanced by the application of creative surface development options, including bright luminous colours and rich textures.  This exhibition is truly a feast for the eyes, especially for the discerning collector and those individuals that admire timeless elegant handcrafted products with a contemporary flair for surface development. 
Karen van der Riet, Photography by Eugene Hon.
The work is beautifully displayed in an airy gallery space that showcases the creative surfaces to maximum effect. This is a well considered group exhibition, where each ceramists’ body of work compliments the other’s creative endeavours, whilst showcasing the titillating and inspiring whiteness and fragile nature of the unifying material of choice, central to this visual and memorable experience.
John Shirley. Photography by Eugene Hon.
On display is the work of John Shirley (image above and on the left), arguably South Africa’s most renowned ceramic science specialist.  His soluble salt ceramic surface creations are reminiscent of abstract expressionism; in particular their attention to the physical immediacy of paint used to convey a strong emotional or expressive content, in many ways a continuation of the Romantic tradition of the Sublime. The translucency of these vessels is further enhanced by the watercolor effect of the soluble salts applied in overlaid brushstrokes.
Karen Van der Vliet, Photography by Eugene Hon.
Karen van der Riet’s porcelain vessels (image above and on the left) are immersed in rich barium glazes to produce colours inspired by Monet's light reflections on water. These beautifully crafted ceramic vessels with their luminous surfaces capture your attention like indigo blue ink applied to blotting paper. She produces ceramic vessels with intense surfaces, when exhibited as a group transforms a lifeless corner-space into a vibrant and expressive place.
Dale Lambert, Photography by Eugene Hon.
The work of Dale Lambert is simple yet sophisticated (image above). These are subtle ceramic statements that are well executed, resulting in a refined end product that comes to its own when viewed up close and or handled by the viewer. Its tactile quality adding a dimension to these fragile works that addresses a component so closely associated with this age-old craft tradition.

Eunice Botes, Photography by Eugene Hon.

The work of Eunice Botes is illustrative in its function (image above and on the left). Simple cylindrical vessels are decorated with delicately incised black underglaze painted trees, power lines and birds (also added as sprigs). For this critic the ceramist could possibly apply the design principals when developing her surface decorations. Further attention could also be given to the use of negative and positive spaces (shapes) as created by the branches of the trees and power lines, so evident in the work of printmakers (graphic artists and illustrators). There is also the need to consider applying the decoration in the round and not only on one side of the vessel. Applying these surface development recommendations will ensure a more sophisticated and refined end product.
Sandy Godwin Photography Eugene Hon
Sandy Godwin’s surface technique transforms simple formal vessels into complex surface orientated ceramic statements (images above, on the left and below). The surface patterns cling to the forms and shapes of the vessel like patterned pantyhose compression stockings to a voluptuous model’s shapely legs. The fire burning the imprint of the underglaze colour sprayed onto the surface in much the same way as the sun would bake (tan) the image onto ones delicate skin. Therein lies its creative virtuosity; that which has transformed the face of ceramics in the wake of designers applying their skills to this traditional craft form.
Sandy Godwin, Photography by Eugene Hon.
Pamela Schroeder’s teacups and saucers with spoons are whimsical creations that delight in every sense of the word (image on the left). Her cups and saucers with lustered details add an element of freshness to this exhibition; achieved in her use of the plasticity of the clay to enhance its delicate and fragile qualities.

Karen Murray’s work for this critic lacks the finesse associated with the title of this exhibition, Fragile (image on the left).  Maybe if the vessels were more delicate, emulating printed matter on delicate origami inspired, paper folded cylindrical constructions, considered at conceptual level and applied to the end product, the end result would be more refined. The potential is always there, however not enough time and effort is spent to master a particular creative intent.
Ultra Furn regional Awards exhibition. Photography by Eugene Hon.
The second exhibition to view is the Ultra Furn Regional Awards Exhibition: Ceramics Southern Africa Gauteng 2013 at Museum Africa in Newtown. The Selectors were Ingrid Stevens, Kay Potts and Wendy Goldblatt.

The winners are; G & W Mineral Resources Premier Award (image above): Claire Waters, the Ndebele Mining & Milling Award: Rosemarie Marriott, Glazecor cc Award: Ria Scheepbouwer, Lionheart Chemical Enterprises Award: Madoda Fani, Belmont Ceramics Award: Erna Ziegelmeier, Potters Supplies and Mail Order Award: Caroline Janse van Rensburg, Van Tuyl Kilns and Furnaces New Signatures Award: Claudia Postaremczak, Highly Commended: Cecilia Robinson and: Nic Sithole.

1 comment:

Eugene Hon said...

Hi Eugene,

Thanks for doing a crit on the Fragile Exhibition.

I would like to respond to your comments however.

I have no issue with constructive criticism and always try to receive it with an open mind.

I do feel, however, that the comments that my work doesn't fit the criteria of the title was a bit of an exaggeration. Considering that my pieces are as thin as both John's and Dale's, and that when lit properly ( certainly not as they were in the gallery) are completely translucent.

Both Karen van der Riet and Eunice, however beautiful colored and decorated they are, do certainly not embody the fragility necessary I think for the title!

I do concede that my pieces may not have had the refinement of surface treatment that may have made them look more delicate, but I do feel that I met other criteria perhaps lacking by some of the other artists and yet they are not criticized for their lack of fragility at all!!!


Karen Murray