Manufactured Distractions and Intersections: Digital Ceramic Transferware. FADA Gallery, University of Johannesburg. August 2020.
Various themes and styles intersect throughout the body of work presented in this exhibition and its catalogue. A series of ceramic statements incorporate transfers as simulated fragments, in a way evocative of a world fragmented through multiple simultaneous forms of communication. There is, indeed, not one way of looking at things anymore.
Decorative compositions initiated with my ballpoint drawings were digitally printed to become ceramic transfers and subsequently fired on to ‘ready-mades’ in various shapes and forms. The transfers are applied in varying arrangements, to emulate shattered or restored ceramic vessels. The broken fragments fit together, yet the decoration on each juxtaposed shard contrasts sharply with the next one. This contradiction was achieved by slicing through an underlying, transfer-applied theme or style, making way for another and resulting in a jarring visual effect. In contemplating the vessel, the viewer thus encounters both decorative and rather distracting elements
About the artist and the work.
I am a ceramic artist, yet my passion for drawing with the humble ballpoint pen has opened up many new creative possibilities, also in clay.
In the past I have used my ball point drawings primarily as a design tool towards creating ceramic sculptures, whether they be modelled, press-moulded or hand built figurative sculptures. As ballpoint ink fades with time and exposure to direct light, I execute my drawings on acid free paper, bound in book form. Thanks to current advances in both ceramic and digital technology, I have been able to extract much more from my ballpoint drawings by making digitally printed ceramic transfers which can both be fired on to a range of ‘ready-mades’, or on to more expressive ceramic statements. This was a breakthrough for me. When the first batch of digitally printed ceramic transfers was test-fired on commercially produced ceramic plates, my ‘impermanent’ ballpoint drawings were instantly immortalized! Intricate crosshatching detail was perfectly visible in the fired transfers, even when the rendered image was radically reduced in size.
My fascination with decoration, especially pattern making, originated in the 1970s, at the Tygerberg Art Centre in Cape Town, while I was attending high school. In my Grade Eleven year I chose to take a second art subject, titled Textile Design. Looking back, it has taken nearly thirty-five years for my passion for drawing and its surface development potential to realise. That is the focus of this work, which sheds light on techniques involved in producing digitally printed ceramic transfers, focusing primarily on creative drawing opportunities within the field of ceramics.
During my university years at Fine Arts institutions, decoration was considered a crime. Yet for me, being able to explore a wide range of options in surface development, both decorative and expressive, remains enticing and liberating.
A wide range of subject matter is explored here, as outlined in the introductory paragraphs preceding each series as captured in exhibition catalogue. Reference is made, for example, to various themes related to blue and white ceramic ware surface decoration and the fine draughtsmanship embedded in zoological and botanical studies. The work, to my mind, of the ultimate artisan is also celebrated: Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528) was not only a painter, printmaker and engraver, but also a mathematician and theorist.
“Nature holds the beautiful for the artist who has the insight to extract it. Thus, beauty lies even in humble, perhaps ugly things, and the ideal, which bypasses or improves on nature, may not be truly beautiful, in the end.” Albrecht Dürer.