TRACY KEITH


I work with clay for its visual energy and organic response to fabricate forms and shapes or the way it stretches and contracts to help give serendipity in the making, material dictate or guiding my design and construction process if necessary. For me, this medium has a memory of chameleon characteristics and a rich diverse history, which gives me a holistic attitude towards developing my art practice.

My vessels are a sculptural continuum of the non-place we tread, stripped back to a rawness through growth and divisions of human settlements inhabited in crevices and folds of the earth that intrusive human construct. The attachments are like shards of earth splintering the flesh of the land protruding and piercing the surfaces creating divisions that disrupted the natural order of the container, they are non-utilitarian in a sense they have become unusable and contain the memory of a vessel. They are growths within the land to compensate misuse of the whenua, which is becoming unusable and unrecognisable, objects that intentionally avoid the instantly recognisable and instead create abstracted forms that evoke memoires of the whenua (land) and that reflect something ancient and timeless. They are vessels of our natural environment stripped-back, roughly cast, and embossed forms, which help to transition between the past and the now. The whenua is not a place that we traditionally occupy or even occupy for very long, it has become spaces of briefness and impermanence a non-place and regarded as insignificance to our instinctive and spiritual conscious of the land, where human beings remain anonymous from the close and perpetual embrace of Papatūānuku (mother-earth). The essence of a non-place now manifesting an idealised memory of a place, that remembering of what was before a diaspora life set into cultural life.

The Raku process has become the conduit between the past and the present, the representation of old industry interlaced with new industry, ancient rituals transcending to indorse the new rituals, Raku vessels that reflect tea bowls of Asia where they hold huge significance in ceremonial practices, vessels that hold life to enhance life, the whenua is but a vessel that grows life and gives life. Through the vernacular of clay construction and transformation of the Raku process, the sculptural vessels truly reveal their visual energy and diverse memories and the connection to the whenua.

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