Let’s face it ce­ram­i­cally

The Tribune (NZ) - - ENJOY! -

If the eyes are the win­dows to the soul, that makes the face the front of the house, and we know what’s hap­pen­ing to the hous­ing mar­ket these day. Faces are very valu­able.

John Lawrence knew this as he spent three years cre­at­ing dozens of ce­ramic por­traits for his ex­hi­bi­tion The Hu­man Ex­pres­sion, on now at Te Manawa.

‘‘I wanted to have dif­fer­ent lay­ers of in­ter­est,’’ John ex­plains. ‘‘I wanted mostly his­tory – some­thing that I’m pas­sion­ate about, es­pe­cially art his­tory – but also some­thing that was a gen­eral ap­peal to peo­ple.’’

The Dan­nevirke artist has drawn in­spi­ra­tion from fa­mous artists like Pi­casso, from his fam­ily, from tele­vi­sion, from peo­ple in his com­mu­nity, and other sources. The works are as di­verse as snowflakes – of­ten sim­i­lar shapes, but de­fined by the de­tails un­fold­ing within.

John in­di­cates one par­tic­u­lar por­trait.

‘‘This is a tribal mask, which is re­ally sur­pris­ing be­cause it looks so mod­ern, so con­tem­po­rary. The orig­i­nal mask is ac­tu­ally 150 years old or more.’’

Sometimes he’ll watch TV with a cam­era in hand to cap­ture the peo­ple he sees. One in­di­vid­ual in par­tic­u­lar is rep­re­sented in mul­ti­ple por­traits.

‘‘[She’s] a TV per­son that I’ve en­joyed watch­ing over the years. They show how she’s changed – her hair­style mostly, and how it changed her whole per­son­al­ity.’’

Ce­ramic has al­ways been John’s favoured medium.

‘‘I’ve used clay for 65 years for dif­fer­ent rea­sons and I find it a lot eas­ier,’’ John com­ments.

He de­vel­oped a tech­nique of ve­neer­ing and lam­i­nat­ing clay us­ing ex­tremely thin lay­ers, fired at 1200 de­grees. ‘‘It’s taken me a long time to per­fect it so it doesn’t fall off again,’’ he says with a chuckle.

The Hu­man Ex­pres­sion is open at Te Manawa un­til Oc­to­ber 30.

Rodger Fox

Gallery vis­i­tors with the por­traits of The Hu­man Ex­pres­sion.

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