Collection Twenty Three | Adorn | Izette Felthun & Veronica Cay
Appearing in this Exhibition
Izette Felthun is a ceramic artist who grew up and was educated in South Africa. The female form has always been a focus of her work. Her early work was influenced by the highly burnished and decorated blackened beer pots of the indigenous South African Venda tribe. Subsequently, over time, the work has evolved to a point where she explores her identity as an artist and a woman by celebrating the female form.
She creates abstract sculptures, which have a sense of movement and uses the vessel to challenge the perception and representation of the female form in society. Her goal is to break with the ideal beauty of classical sculptures and find a new relationship between art and current perceptions of the female body.
The work seeks to combine figurative imagery with the format of the traditional clay vessel. The vessel is a powerful metaphor for the body, with each part of the pot being named for a corresponding area of the body. A full lip, a gentle curve of the neck, a round belly or a broad shoulder – these elements combine to animate the vessel.
Collections featuring Izette Felthun
Viewers who are familiar with my work might be aware that everything I do is generated in weekly lifedrawing sessions and whilst observational drawing may be the beginning of an intent it is usually fairly quickly lost in my translations. Time spent in the life drawing studio is slowed – it allows a space for gentle observations and connections to be made; journeying through a human landscape – a stilled life – a distilled experience that is offered/proffered by the model.
Lifedrawing is a very physical process for me – it is where I seek connections, test my resilience and acknowledge my own frailties. My work is about opening conversations and distilling experiences through marks that can be revealed across the surface, utterances that can be swift and staccato in sound and rhythm or fluid and generous in their tone, substance, texture and form. I use a range of tools – large sticks and both hands – to help evoke a response or excite the imagination. In the last six months I have switched materials almost exclusively to using a brush attached to a stick approx. 1 metre long dipped into acrylic paint. The distance provided by this method of drawing removes any traces of certainty or perfection in the marks; they are by the very nature of the process more expressive and uncontrolled. I use a thick 300 gsm cartridge paper by Snowden in all my drawing sessions.
When I think about what I am trying to achieve in a lifedrawing session it is about an energy transfer and capture between the model and myself and the other participants in the room.
Because I usually draw multiple poses on a sheet of paper, layered one upon the other, the image becomes fractured and can result in a sequence of illusory movement across the paper. ‘lifedrawing #1 and ‘the warmth of your touch’ are both drawings at their ‘first pass’ stage; successful works exploring the raw, energy of gestural drawing.
The continuous layering and reworking of the surface obscures initial outcomes but provides a rich history of transition and suggestion. The resultant marks may bear no resemblance to their origins but they have been endowed with a mutable powerful presence – often far from their passive beginnings. ‘The confrontation’, ‘the understudy’ and ‘ Sunday morning sleeps - your turn to make tea’ were all direct studies from life drawing sessions that have been layered and reworked in this fashion to suggest a transition of time. The largest drawing in this collection of works ‘an unceremonious union’ is two sheets of paper from separate life drawing sessions; the sheets have been joined and the marks extended to reveal new conversations and compositions, demanding new responses.