Clay and I




15 Anderson

Each world view is a cultural product developed by a community and shared with its members.    It is from this base that I explore craft, identity and culture; how these variables impact my world view and how I can explore and express my relationship with them all. My work draws from the longing for connection to cultural resources that were lost to the colonial machine. Hundreds of years removed from the involuntary migration of my Jamaican and Aboriginal peoples, I still feel a strong kinship to their traditional crafts of basketry and ceramics. We have very few stories or skills passed down, because they were forbidden. I was trained not by a grandmother or an elder but an art school. It is an uneasy thing, to learn about one’s own cultural heritage from elective classes, taught by Scholars and Anthropologists not members of that group. I also struggle with the realization that without these scholars and anthropologists I would know very little about the cultures from which I was born; the stories about my past kin-people would be largely forgotten.

My work is informed by that uneasy relationship between my indirect knowledge of my ancestors; from the coil and burnish technique used to build the ceramic vessels, (a fabrication method used by both African and American Aboriginals) to the coil woven additions (again, both used in African and Aboriginal Craft production) to how I strive for a connection through using these techniques.  There is no implication that my work is African or Aboriginal; I feel each piece is more of a love letter to my Ancestors.  I write to them in clay, acknowledging the past and how it has brought me here, to this place, and how they have shaped what we all have become.

In a rescent series of work I explored the fundamental use of pottery and baskets; vessels in which to carry and hold. Some of the pieces are variants of a theme; how different can the same form be?  Baskets are meant to welcome the presence of objects and support their weight and the space they occupy.  I explore how inviting this concept is through my burnished surfaces offset by the tightly woven fibres which finish the top half of my work.  The surface invites you to touch, invoking a tactile and visual duality which is both appealing and reassuring.  The various papers and sea grasses, the different slips I apply to the surface as well as the unruly unpredictability of the smokefire wildly changes the perception of the same basic form allowing for exploration and discovery.  These points and counterpoints bring us back to the unifying concept in most of my work… disparate elements woven together, Intertwined; like kin, to make something new to be shared.

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