This series of paintings was done in response to an invitation from the Ceramics Association of Kwa Zulu Natal to exhibit with their members at artSPACE Durban. I was joined by other painters for the exhibition “Drawn from Clay” to create a conversation between three dimensional ceramics and our two dimensional paintings.
The paintings were done with minimal preliminary drawing, only a soft pencil line to indicate the outline of the vase. I wanted to replicate the direct process of the brushstrokes, using watercolour in the same way the porcelain painters would decorate the original vases.
Cups & Bottles series
About 3 years ago I visited the Queensland Art Museum. I was struck by ceramics displayed on a long shelf along one wall of the Gallery. The pieces - all glazed in similar colours - were displayed in groups. The stillness and simplicity of the vessels echoed the paintings of Morandi.
I took a few photographs and intended at some time to do a series of paintings inspired by these ceramics.
When I was researching some ideas for Drawn from Clay, I found an article about an Australian ceramic artist,
Gwyn Hanssen Pigott. She was artist-in-Residence for a time at the School of Mines & Industries, Ballarat Ltd.
I was fascinated to discover she was the same artist I had admired in Brisbane. The images shown in the article were of groupings of cups and bottles before bisque firing, so the pieces were matt – no shiny glazes – just such beautiful shapes – they had a quiet, serene presence.
I found her working methods so interesting to a “non-potter”. She would throw a series of bottles and cups and when lifting them from the wheel gently squeeze the forms, adding subtle changes and complexity. Some were dipped after being thrown and squeezed into different shapes. The pieces in themselves were so simple – but placed in groups the interaction between the pieces made powerful compositions.
|Cups I Oil on canvas 610mm x 760mm
I began the paintings with a deep burnt sienna ground – it seemed logical to tie the paintings to the colour of clay, and then worked up the shapes leaving hints of sienna here and there.
As I painted, the forms seemed to come to life and begin to move. I had the sense that the cups were about to jive off the canvas.
After Gwyn had seen some photographs of the paintings, she said that she had been originally inspired by the still life paintings of Morandi. It was interesting that her ceramics were now in turn, inspiring new paintings.
A complete portfolio of all the paintings on this exhibition can be seen on my Facebook page Carol Lee Beckx Artist.