Friday, 1 April 2016

2016 - 3 GEORGIA HARVEY 2 - 30 April 2016

Georgia Harvey

Quiet Chime, 2016

79 Main St BEEAC

April 2 – 30, 2016

'I enjoy exploring material behaviour and pushing materials to places
 they wouldn't typically inhabit ...' Georgia Harvey

Local Beeac Lakes, Corangamite and Weering, were a joyous discovery for ceramicist Georgia Harvey. The lakes in early 2016 are drying, some might say dying, but each stage and moment of their lives reveals other layers of life and substance. Each is a saline lake so when the waters recede they leave patterns and salt, that together, trace many extraordinary interactions. The many plants which live alongside them, and their cycles, refuse to give up and just go on offering their own extraordinary subtle colours too, their bands of growth mirroring, in their own organic way, the patterns in the drying beds. Even ‘unwell’ the lakes are a glorious and subtle vision, an inspirational natural resource in this lakes and craters precinct, in the Kanawinka Geopark that stretches to South Australia.

       Georgia Harvey, Quiet Chime (detail), 2016

Harvey began her visual career studying painting. From painting she followed a more sci-analytical trail and transitioned to work as a conservator, and it was while working in that field that she became, seduced is perhaps not too strong a word, by the aesthetics of ceramic figures from Precolumbian Mexico:
the colours straight from the earth but so vibrant; the speckles from various contaminants and streaks from the fire providing marks beyond the realms of the makers' hands; the subjects sometimes gory but often prosaic and recognisable. Most of all, the slipped surfaces buffed and honed to the finest satin finish like the perfect icing on a spicy lebkuchen (from the artist’s website notes)

Ceramics are dynamic, and the sense of adventure, experiment and surprise they unite has fired Harvey’s particular fusion of science and the visual elements.

                                         Georgia Harvey, 2016

Speaking/writing of Danish ceramicist Trine Birgitte Bond, Harvey could have been describing her own approach: ‘…if something doesn't come out right she'll slap another layer on and pop it back into the kiln. I love her inquisitive approach and willingness to accommodate possible failure (indeed welcome it) in order to achieve these accreted surfaces …’

The scientist in Harvey is also stirred by the infinite curiosities that unfold from observation of thin section petrographs. The chemistry of surface is clearly crucial to Harvey’s feel for ceramics.

                                     'a thin section (petrograph) of gedrite ... not produced by 
                                                human hand - but probably present in any lump of clay
                                                you's care to pick up' GH
Alan Wallwork, a UK ceramicist, whose career and work Harvey has followed, may explain why she does so in the following.  Although they are not of the same generation, Wallwork beautifully describes the early stimulation of his senses:
‘… when I was little, out shopping with my mother. I could learn how things felt, as well as watch skillful things being done.  There was much to smell as well.  My mother bought sugar loose at Arthur East’s - a corn, seed and fuel merchants. This was a long bare wood floored cavern with a high wooden counter to one side. There, one of the brown coated men dug into one of the bins behind him with a grey metal scoop, tipped the contents into a gleaming brass scoop on his scales with their handsome brass weights, then poured out the sugar onto a big sheet of thick blue paper.  Then he did some origami and a plump parcel appeared without use of string, tape or anything else. Just clever folding.  I, meanwhile, was free to dive my hands into any of the long rows of bulging open sacks in lines down the shop floor, their tops neatly rolled down.  They held wheat, barley, oats, dried peas, beans, and on and on …’

                                Alan Wallwork, (‘wheat, barley, oats, dried peas, beans, and on …’) 2016

Wallwork writes also:  ‘it was the workshop itself I yearned for’ – another swoon of identification for Harvey who has not long moved into her own ‘workshop’ aka laboratory.  It is there in inner Melbourne she experiments with Weering and Corangamite salts in her kiln – ‘each piece has quite an extensive journey’ – dirt and fire, smoke and minerals – stirred, tamped and burnished with Harvey’s favourite humble tools:  wooden spoon, bamboo skewer, teaspoon. Nurtured accidents emerge from intuitively combined materials and surface tensions.

The work of Aneta Regel Deleu is admired by Harvey – her work is ‘loose’, organic and playful, yet its seemingly spontaneous substance hints at a darker deeper side. Below is an ARD ring:

                                                                       Aneta Regel Deleu, ring

Video collaborators, Panamanian artists Donna Conlon and Jonathon Harker – working with found-objects and rubble – are also a Harvey inspiration, a reminder of the beauty of the ephemeral and the hidden logic in apparent play. See their work here: especially juegos, (No 2 is this writer’s favourite)  –

Ceramics, it seems, is the art of an unashamed collision of disparate inspirations brought together by artists devoted to materials and their alchemies. The work in WINDOWSPACE by Harvey, Quiet Chime,  (2016) – is beautifully described by her in the following way (it is): ‘the quiet response to an isolated/unusual landscape. For me the experience of visiting the lakes (under these particular circumstances - perhaps it would have been different if I'd just found myself there of my own accord) was like the chime of the bell that says 'wake up, pay attention to where you are'. I don't want to get too absorbed in the specific notion of meditation but it's definitely part of the artwork - certainly part of the process of making it, repetitive as it is. Just as important though is the material expression and how the surfaces reflect processes occurring naturally. eg The thin crackled tokens are similar physically to the crust of salt layer cracking underfoot.’

WINDOWSPACE-BEEAC is proud to welcome Georgia Harvey and her work, Quiet Chime, (2016), uniting as it does local materials and a seemingly infinite constellation of inspirations.  AS

                                          Preparation of Quiet Chime, 2016

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