As a follow-on from the previous posts of artists using the earth in some way as inspiration source for their work, I’d like to show the work of my friend , ceramic artist Helen Foster now of Margaret River, Western Australia.
For all the 30 plus years we have known each other I have admired and watched her increasing focus on the objects, textures and colours of the landscapes in which she has found herself. To me it is trite to say her ceramic forms ‘are decorated’ with the colours and textures of the surrounding landscapes: because all of the shapes are inherently organic, and the applied lines, textures and glazes are integral to the whole, not just ‘applied’ .
Helen was working as a draftsman when we met, and certainly that background is evident in the isobars on the surface of the mustard gold pot in the rear. The plate in the foreground is like a chunk of sunbaked and cracked mud around a dried up waterhole, plenty of which are found most years out in the Eastern Goldfields of WA and throughout much Australian Outback. Rain comes, wets, soaks, floods, eventually evaporates, the land dries rock hard and finally cracks under the hot sun. It is a texture Helen has often applied to her earthy pots, occasionally adding specks of metallic glaze down in the cracked area to suggest hidden wealth being revealed, as it often was/still is after a heavy rain out there in the Goldfields.
To find oneself, as I have on more than one occasion, down on hands and knees searching for small nuggets in still-damp red-brown earth after the rain is to understand what the term “Gold Fever” means. It is real, and over time probably an addiction.
Helen’s eye for fine detail can be seen in the following two pots. I photographed them in her Margaret River studio about 6 months ago, and look forward to going back again sometime soon to see what she has been producing since then.