Mungo Light 15
30 x 25 x 22cm & 35 x 31 x 18.5 cm
The Willandra dry lakes region in southern NSW is a World Heritage site of enormous significance for its record of geological evolution and human cultural record of earliest Australians. At Lake Mungo the land has been sculpted by climatic changes spanning 140,000 years and the vast basin, silent spaces and ephemeral effects of light, weather and time inspire my current work. In response to this extraordinary place of great spiritual significance I have gently altered wheel-thrown pieces to induce a poetic sense of the topography and used subtle shifts in the coloured glaze surface to evoke a sense of mood, space and light. The lunette on the eastern shoreline of the Lake Mungo basin has been formed from three distinct layers of siliceous clays and sands and is 20 m high and 33 km long. When the lake dries up the strong westerly winds blow the clay off the lake floor onto the sand dunes that formed when the lake was full. It looks like a kind of moonscape owing to the erosion caused by wind and water and the luminous and shifting light on the dunes where the clay covers the sand, absorbs light and produces a wonderful, soft glow on the fine surface. The flat basin is vast and extends to the low horizon where it meets the enormous dome of sky. The sheer scale of the space, the silence and gaping sense of history have an effect that induces reflection and reverence. My thrown forms reveal traces of finger marks on the wet clay and further pushing and pulling of the pliable form to alter the shape creates subtle indentations and tones on the surface that are reminiscent of the effects of weathering by wind and water. The natural plasticity of clay is used to create forms that have an ease and fluidity , their contours reflective of the lunette dunes. Soft textures, pastel colours, vast space, wind and soaring temperatures are defining aspects of the landscape. My glazes are created from granite, limestone and clay and are used in combination with silica, mineral oxides and ceramic stains, which are built up in multiple thin layers to develop the depth and luminosity. Colour is an important element for its emotive power and ability to trigger memory and associations. The interior of each vessel changes in response to the ambient light conditions and becomes a luminous pool of coloured light that is juxtaposed with the illusory depth of space evoked on the surface of the form. The colour, light and shade suggest associations with land and sky and the atmospheric effect created by the contained space can transcend the material weight of the forms to evoke the impression of lightness and infinite depth. Lake Mungo is a place to dwell on the human condition and the mysteries of existence.