At the opening of the FynArts Creative Collection ceramics exhibition on Saturday, curator Liz Coates said we in Hermanus were fortunate to be able to feed our souls and keep art alive. She thanked the 35 participating ceramic artists for jumping on board at such short notice, and Barbara Lindop for stepping in to open the exhibition at the last minute after Mardre Meyer, creative director of Source IBA, had to cancel due to a family emergency.

Cllr Kari Brice, FynArts Festival Director Mary Faure, curator Liz Coates and art consultant, author, curator and former gallery owner Barbara Lindop at the opening of the FynArts Creative Collection ceramics exhibition. PHOTO: Taylum Meyer

In her opening address, Barbara paid tribute to FynArts Festival Director, Mary Faure and her tireless team for persisting and ensuring that the FynArts Select programme continued, albeit mostly in a virtual format, throughout the lengthy lockdown. Describing the Creative Collection exhibition as “a cacophony of colour, ideas, ingenuity, purpose, skill and passion”, she said pottery has been an essential ingredient of hominids’ cultural life for centuries.

The earliest known pottery dates back to Mesopotamia in the 8th century BC, when it was made for functional purposes such as carrying, storing and cooling. Decorating these objects became an intrinsic part of the whole, suggesting that aesthetic appreciation is inherent in humanity. Until recently, however, ceramicists were considered as potters or crafters, and not artists.

“I am glad to have lived long enough to experience the reverence that now exists for these beautiful, handmade objects, lovingly created from a clear understanding of the fine balance of science, craftsmanship, hard physical work, dedication, intuitive common sense, imagination, talent and luck,” said Barbara, adding that “I’m glad, too, that the terminology has changed.” Ceramics – no longer ‘pottery’ – is now defined as comprising three major types: earthenware, stoneware and porcelain.

“The demanding and complex process of glazing is the greatest challenge for any artist to perfect, and here in these rooms, we can enjoy the successful outcome of the laborious process that is ceramic making,” said Barbara. The participating artists come from all over South Africa, including the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Cape Town and Johannesburg – and one from Hermanus. Local ceramicist Catherine Brennon is a well-known for her enchanting ‘dream boxes’ and was recently named the winner of the Western Cape regional ceramics competition.

The pieces on display – ranging in subject matter from nature, animals, and portraiture, to abstract symbolism – comprise a variety of expressive interpretations in each artist’s individual language. While some are witty and cheeky, others are charming and elegant, and others yet are haunting and contemplative. Together, this group exhibition is an explosion of ideas for all to enjoy.

The FynArts Creative Collection exhibition will run until 19 September. The Courtyard, 2 Harbour Road (right next to the FynArts Gallery, where Kunskantoor was before).

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