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Thursday, 8 December 2016

the angles that animate....

Wendy Stefansson. Lioness and Cub. Stoneware. 1996

Decades ago, I carved one of my first three-dimensional artworks out of a block of clay. The piece depicted a lioness nuzzling her cub; and was based on a photo I had taken during a then-recent trip to Africa. I decided the work was finished while it was still in a fairly rough state. A sketch. The basic lines and angles mapped out, but few details. Evocative; not literal.

I glazed it with a “mystery glaze” my friends and I had inherited along with a large number of glaze-making chemicals from another ceramic studio which had closed. The glaze “broke” over the angles, and pooled in the low places; spread and bubbled like lava over the larger planes. It took on the look of stone. Molten. Solidified.

I loved the way the “lines” I had left in the carving — the edges of my cut marks — were preserved and highlighted by the glaze. I couldn’t have said why, but I loved the hard edges.

Wendy Stefansson. Lioness and Cub. Stoneware. 1996

Wendy Stefansson. Lioness and Cub. Stoneware. 1996


Other artists have rendered cats in this faceted way as well. Particularly the big cats.

Rosetta. On the Alert. Bronze.

Rosetta. The Leap. Bronze.

Julie Taylor and Michael Curry. Simba mask for The Lion King.
Mixed media.

Feline forms seem to fracture along fault lines. Excess shears away like slabs of sandstone, leaving only the essential.

There is a sense of violence barely contained. Lines and edges become the meeting places of opposing energies, held temporarily in equilibrium. Tension, held in suspension.

And in that moment, it’s the angles that animate.

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