Melbourne ceramicist Stephen Benwell has worked with clay for a very long time. He is currently exhibiting new ceramics at Niagara Galleries in Richmand. It was over a week ago that I visited the exhibition but during the course of every busy day since my thoughts have wandered back to the faces featured in Stephen's work.
The show consisited of sculptural vessels and figures exploring the world of antiquities. I suprised myself by responding more readily to his figurative work.
athlete, arm raised; athlete, arm down; athlete, hand raised 2009
His series of three athletes are stocky, solid and firmly rooted to the ground but the artist marks left on the clay surface and the faded circus-like colours on the alabaster clay give them a sense of fragility. In scale they manage to appear both monumental and intimate at the same time.
Faces appear in different guises throughout the exhibition; on figures and busts or painted onto the surface of clay marbles and rustic vessels.
rustic service 2009
Some look slightly foolish, almost embarrassed, others pensive or morose.
three fauns 2008
There is a beautiful comic sadness to Benwell's works that gives the sense that the artist has observed, perhaps with fondness, the foibles of human nature and questions what it is we venerate and celebrate and what we leave behind.
bucolic poet 2009
7 April - 1 May 2010
245 Punt Rd Richmond
Photos courtesy the artist and Niagara Galleries, Melbourne.