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An Interview with Lynda Draper, Leading Australian Ceramics Artist

ByLiyana Safari
An Interview with Lynda Draper, Leading Australian Ceramics Artist

Image courtesy of Sullivan + Strumpf

Lynda Draper is a leading Australian artist known for her works in ceramics. Her practice explores the intersection of dreams and reality, drawing fragmented impressions from her environment, memories, and ancient symbols.

With her most recent artwork, Mound III, showcased at Capella in Sydney, we speak to Lynda about her artistic journey and how her experiences have molded her into the artist she is today.

Tell us more about your artistic background and how it led to working with ceramics?

Some of my fondest childhood memories evolved around the pleasure and solace that came from making things. Directly from high school, I was accepted to study at what is currently UNSW Art & Design in Sydney. After graduating I was encouraged by Peter Travis to extend my technical skills in the field of Ceramics and study at The National Art School, Sydney. It is at The National Art School that I learnt the importance of the transference of skills and knowledge, and the significance of mentorship all of which have.

Mound, III. 2023. Glazed Ceramic. 101 x 48 x 44 cm. Side View. Image courtesy of Aaron Anderson.

It is known that your practice explores the “intersection between dreams and reality”. Can you elaborate more on this and what inspired you to focus your work based on this theme?

Many of my works evolve from a state of reverie. I’m a huge advocate of daydreaming and the creativity that can unfold from this state of being. I am interested in the relationship between the mind and material world. Creating art is a way of attempting to bridge the gap between these worlds.

With your works based on “fragmented images from your surrounding environment, recollected memories, and interest in talismans from ancient cultures”, can you discuss how you materialize these ideas into a physical work?

I acknowledge, like many artists, that my work is influenced by my surrounding environment and life experiences. I am also intrigued by the way humankind has utilised material culture throughout history to assist in the mediation of loss and change, hence my interest in talismans from ancient cultures. Reconciling these concepts via making art is a personal journey.

What are you hoping for viewers to take away from engaging and experiencing your artworks?

The artworks aim to stimulate the imagination, to invite the contemplation of other possible realms. My use of the ceramic medium aims to evoke a dreamlike, ethereal quality, with the visual fragility of paper or wax, and yet are instilled with the resilience and permanence of fired clay.

Image courtesy of National Art School.

Your works are said to employ a specific hand building technique of pinching and coiling. Can you discuss more on the technical process behind your works from start to end?

The coiled constructed sculptures are built without armatures. I often work from preliminary sketches if I haven’t access to clay. I feel the most successful skeletal structures evolve intuitively, each part gradually cultivating the connective tissue of the work.

I like to work in a way where there can be options after the firing process and allow any mishaps to inform the outcome. In the process of making, I utilize many different clays and glazes depending on my vision for a work. Multiple firings almost always occur, often I build works as separate components and attaching them after firing, I find this gives an additional freedom to the creative process. Sometimes I will put pieces away for a couple of months and revisit and experiment with various scenarios with fresh eyes.

Are there any specific artists that have influenced your practice? And how do you balance between the traditional and contemporary ways of working with ceramics?

From my earliest days working with ceramics, I admired the work of Stephen Benwell and Toni Warburton. Also, I am inspired by many artists who work in a broad range of art mediums. I am bewitched by a lot of outsider art and motivated by its authentic nature. Two works I return to are Ferdinand Cheval’s most extraordinary structure Palais Idéal in Hauterives, France, and Leonard Knight's Salvation Mountain which is located in the lower desert of Southern California.

I don’t really consider the balance between the traditional and contemporary ways of working with ceramics. Though while embracing the traditions of ceramic practice, I am motivated to foster a diverse contemporary dialogue between all aspects of arts practice.

What are some challenges when using this medium or difficulties during the entire technical process? How do you overcome them?

Out of the disasters and challenges along the way surprising things can happen or a lesson could be learnt. I like to work in a way where there can be options after the firing process, the mishaps informing to final work. Sometimes I will put pieces away for a couple of months and revisit and play with various scenarios with fresh eyes.

Image courtesy of T Australia.

Do you have any advice to aspiring ceramic artists who are hoping to start their artistic journey with this medium?

Follow your heart and trust your instincts, open your mind to endless possibilities. Learn from your mistakes and disappointments. Don’t always expect success and acceptance of your work. Mentor and be generous to others. Regardless keep making and when things are going wrong or you feel frustrated play, take a risk, let go and the outcome may surprise you.

What are you looking forward to in your future as an artist? Are there new aspects of your practice you are looking to explore or new themes you would like to dig into?

This year I have been invited to participate in a residency at Canberra Glassworks. Looking forward to experimenting and exploring the possibilities of incorporating glass elements into my ceramic sculptures. The plan is to exhibit the outcomes of the project at Sullivan+Strumpf, Sydney next year.

About the Artwork

Mound, III. 2023. Glazed Ceramic. 101 x 48 x 44 cm. Front View. Image courtesy of Aaron Anderson.

Mound, III, 2023. Glazed Ceramic. 101 x 48 x 44 cm.

The artwork, Mound III, currently featured at Capella Sydney, by Lynda Draper is currently for sale. Interested in purchasing? Contact The Artling here today to enquire about the piece.

About Capella, Sydney

Capella Sydney is housed within the Department of Education building, originally designed in the 1900s by NSW government architect George McRae. Forming part of the city's prestigious Sandstone Precinct, the building has been meticulously restored and reimagined by Pontiac Land. Representing the epitome of luxury, the guestrooms and suites are replete with a bespoke collection of vegan, sustainable in-room amenities designed in partnership with Haeckels.

Any views or opinions in the post are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the company or contributors.

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