Friday, 8 May 2009

Introducing... Liz Low

This week, CLOG is proud to feature current Gallery 3 exhibitor Liz Low. Inspired by the movement of water, Liz's ceramic work demonstrate the same easy ebb and flow as waves do, with gentle undulations that repeat over Liz's sculptural and functional pieces.

"Here, I’m thinking about capturing a moment of movement in an ocean wave as it swells and curls before breaking. The sea is important to me. I grew up in a small dry inland town and longed for the excitement, strength and purity of the ocean for the whole year between our annual beach holidays. I want my work to express something of those qualities."
Perhaps it comes as no surprise that Liz sources inspiration from natural phenomena like erosion, having a background in teaching geography for decades prior to delving into ceramics. In addition to the ocean, Liz explores erosion in her sculptural work and now, in Gallery 3 for her exhibition cycle.

As mentioned before, Liz will be sitting at her wheel from 11am to 2pm Tuesdays to Fridays, and 12pm to 2pm on Saturdays. At the end of her 4 week residency, Liz will be hosting a 'Water Pouring Ceremony' on Thursday 2 June at 6pm. For the ceremony, Liz will submerge the works she will make during her residency in water. The water will erode the unglazed pieces and this process will form the final part of cycle.

But for now, do have a read of this interview about a very lovely lady and her lovely work!

Looking at your artist biography, it appears that you began your craft not very long ago at all! What prompted the decision to return to university and take up ceramics?
A number of things happened before I ended up in first year at RMIT Fine Arts/Ceramics in 1998. I’d been teaching English and Geography in high schools for years and years and had started getting very tired and sick all the time. I was able to retire at the end of 1996 and have the absolute luxury of thinking about what to do next. I wanted to do something creative – I always had wanted – but never knew what it would be. While I was fending off questions like, “Liz, what’s the plan?”, I started a hobby pottery class at Warrandyte Potters’ School and before I knew it, the plan emerged. This is what I wanted to do. I wanted to make pots. I wanted to continue to learn how to throw and I wanted to learn to think like an artist.

You've achieved so much in such a short amount of time... to what do you attribute your success to?
I think that having this opportunity to study and develop my practice as an adult has given me a lot of focus. I don’t want to waste time. It was interesting to realize that the many skills and insights developed during a working life are very transferable – organisation, persistence, a realisation that it’s not the end of the world if things don’t work out at first. I was fortunate to have a studio at home and a supportive family.

Liz at her wheel during a session at Gallery 3

What has your proudest achievement to date been?
Being here in Gallery 3 has been my proudest achievement so far, although winning the RMIT Siemens Fine Arts Travelling Scholarship in 2001 is a pretty close runner-up.

How do you overcome creative obstacles?
I usually write and talk my way around obstacles or dead ends. I sit down with my journal and start writing myself questions which I then try to answer. Often asking even a trite question seems to generate discussion with myself and that’s enough to get things moving. I’ve got a husband who listens and asks questions.

Do you have a particular creation of yours that holds a special place in your heart?
I have a sentimental favourite, a little wobbly cup, which was the starting point for my tableware. I deliberately disturbed its symmetry by making some swirls and dints on it and gave it a wonky handle. I loved its lack of correctness.

Could you please describe a day in the life of Liz Low...
Gosh! A day in the life of… Well, it seems to have three immovable events. Dog walks in the morning, late afternoon and last thing at night (we live in a flat now). Making ceramics is a physical activity and I have to keep up a level of fitness for that activity, so I try to do yoga classes twice a week. If I’m having a full studio day, I’d head off to my studio at Gasworks after the dog walk and settle down to whatever I need to do: throwing, constructing, glazing, kiln loading, firing and so on. It’s nice to sit outside and have lunch looking at the trees and birds – there’s a surprising amount of birdlife at Gasworks. Walk or ride my bike home, dog feed and walk – yet again, and then it’s time to start thinking of dinner. Work admin. I do in the evening or before going to the studio.

And finally, what is the best piece of advice anyone has ever told you?
A simple but far-reaching question, ‘Have you thought of making this in porcelain?’ had a big impact. I had been working in terracotta to throw and construct my first simple pinnacles and this question from Kevin White generated a whole new line of thought. The porcelain got me thinking about the nature of water and this gave me the focus for both my functional and sculptural pieces.

Images by Alexia Skok

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