Whilst I trained as a printmaker, my chosen medium is clay and drawing. It was the three dimensional artefacts I saw when I first travelled overseas that redirected my practice towards making ceramic objects. These artefacts imprisoned behind glass, in zoos masquerading as museums, are actually objects made for holding, for passing from hand to hand, to be pressed to ones lips – but are so often catalogued and removed from their purpose. My practice attempts to bring back into the domestic sphere that which is usually reserved for reverence in a glass case. They are a kind of offering as an antidote to the frequently spiritually bereft and clinical practices of living in the modern world.
Domestic in scale, my work often utilises familiar shapes such as vases, jugs, and candle holders that are bounded by detail and use chance, mistake, and imperfection to make tangible ideas and histories. Jason Greig described my work as “a dinner set commissioned by visiting extra-terrestrials”. I use clay as a kind of conduit to retrieve submerged memories from past lives, and insights into my own instinct and intuition. The work occupies the space between the boundaries of past and present, mythic and domestic, and acts as a kind of archaeological dig into the literature, myths, geology, and sorcery. We are close to clay, and understand it, like flesh to water; mud to water, held together by heat and the sheer force of will.
Nichola Shanley received a Bachelor of Visual Art from the Auckland Society of Art in 1995. She lives and works from Lyttelton, Banks Peninsular.