Sunday, July 18, 2010

Patterns of Light: porcelain monoprints by Maiju Altpere-Woodhead

Echo #3, 2010, porcelain, monoprint, erosion, 1300ºC, h.100cm, w.100cm

Echo #3 (detail)

Soul’s Garden #6, 2010, porcelain, monoprint, erosion, 1300ºC, h.100cm, w.100cm

Soul’s Garden #6 (detail)

Speech by Vicki Grima at the opening of Patterns of Light

The intriguing work of Maiju Altpere Woodhead.
It’s rich and it’s beautiful.
It’s complex and it’s simple.
It’s serious yet also playful.
It’s ceramic and it’s printmaking.
Maiju makes use of printmaking techniques, but uses porcelain instead of paper. The way in which she combines the two, gives us the viewer, a richness and complexity which draws us in, then pushes us back again to view from a distance.
My eyes weave from one side to the other, across, in and under the textured surfaces, following the graphic markings she has made at various stages through the process of making. She paints coloured porcelain slips on in layers, scratches into it with scalpels, fine ballpoint pens and saw blades. Later when the slabs are dry she uses resists such as latex, shellac and wax, to cover areas she wants to keep, then rubs away at the surface, eroding the it away.
She works intuitively rather than planning every step and there, I feel, lies the beauty. It is subtle, quiet and dignified.
As you come in closer to the work, you can see the layers of porcelain – different colours, tones and textures. This is what draws me in. I want to see what is deep in there…  and discover those fine details for myself.
Maiju uses this physical layering of porcelain slip as a metaphor for personal memories and how they are created. Memory and meaning are created and re-created, arranged and re-arranged as time passes. Our memories sometimes become dormant before re-emerging somewhere else. Maiju’s work is about time, or maybe timelessness… that fleeting moment, that which we try to catch in a photo.
It’s also worth commenting also on Maiju’s use of ceramics as the material of choice. She is attracted to it’s durability and its tactility. She is searching for permanence.
In my job as Editor of The Journal of Australian Ceramics, I have been waiting for an opportunity to feature Maiju’s work in more detail, and so in issue 49/2 there is a feature article written by Ann McMahon.
I hope you will enjoy reading the article as it explains in more detail about Maiju’s heritage and influences on her work, along with as covering her process of making step by step. I hope I have done credit to Maiju’s accomplished work.
Congratulations to Kerrie and Elisabeth from Kerrie Lowe Gallery for continuing on in their support of studio ceramics in Australia.