Ceramics New Zealand: New York to Hastings
Contemporary gallery Parlour Projects in Hastings, Hawke’s Bay, has just held Maria Moyer’s first New Zealand exhibition. The contemporary ceramicist usually finds herself exhibiting in Manhattan, New York, not Hastings, New Zealand. Her sculptural work explores the tension of opposites — forms found in industry and nature, themes of refinement and coarseness, and simultaneous fragility and strength. This attraction to opposites is perhaps what guided her to show in a small city on the other side of the world.
Moyer’s exhibition at Parlour Projects featured a selection of sculptures and paintings. Titled Thisness, the works comprised a variety of materials and treatments including sculptures in unglazed, coloured or oxide-treated porcelain, stoneware with terra sigilatta surfaces and gouache on polypropylene paintings.
Using clay as a sculptural material enables the artist to manipulate it as a personal act of expression and as an exploration of process, colour, texture and form, as the clay manifests inherent mineral properties. At the same time, clay has memory and responds to and records human touch, providing unique material opportunities. Moyer states, “One reason I am not using glaze in this work is that I want the imperfections of my touch and random material events that occur in the kiln to be evident.” The uncertain and always varied results of single-fired clay carry the artist’s interest.
While Moyer is deeply fascinated by the exquisite obscurities of nature, her work does not attempt to describe nature, rather it involves discovery in the explorative act of making: “The science-obsessed me focuses on the truth of things – the nature of nature. What makes a thing or an experience this and not that? As an artist I am not representing nature, I’m developing my own nature-inspired rules and allowing process and discovery to lead me. I make work that is less about describing life; rather, I want the work to have a life of its own.”