Ceramics artist Jan Howlin explores nostalgia and domesticity in her exhibition Show of Care.
June 9th, 2011
Jan Howlin first explored how everyday life is maintained within the home for her installation as part of a Masters Degree at Sydney College of the Arts in 2010.
The installation has now been reconfigured and brought to Glebe, Sydney’s Salerno Gallery.
Over 40 individual ceramic pieces, Howlin draws on her own childhood and family experiences to create thoughtful works that encourage reflection and emotional connection with its viewers.
Howlin recently shared her inspiration and insights with Indesignlive.
What inspires you about working with ceramics?
The wonderful thing about ceramics for me is its unlimited potential to create three dimensional form. I trained in graphic design originally and the design and communication work I had done before I picked up a lump of clay was basically two-dimensional, whether electronic or in print.
Clay is just an amorphous mass until you form it into a shape, and really, it’s up to you what to do with it. It also responds well to curvature, asymmetry and organic shapes which resonate naturally with me.
The collection is very personal. How do you want visitors to feel when they encounter it? What do you hope they’ll take away from it?
I was really wanting the forms that I made to have a deep meaning, for me firstly, but I was always hoping other people would read their own experiences into the objects I was making.
I had never created an installation in this way before, so I had no idea what people would think, but I was absolutely delighted that they responded so well to these things. It seemed they could really see what I was getting at, and in lots of ways too, that even though our experiences of care and childhood can be heartfelt they can also be whimsical or funny.
Do you hope to explore similar themes in later works? Are you working on new pieces or a new collection?
I am working on a new collection. It’s early days yet but the works seem to be more about how we interact with our partners, how we live our domestic lives, dealing with the joys and pleasures and the difficulties we experience. It’s an equally emotionally charged area for me, and I don’t think I’m alone in this – we’ll see what happens.
Show of Care is on display at Salerno Gallery from 24 May to 11 June. Jan Howlin moonlights as writer of Indesign magazine’s Luminary section.
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