Artists often create works that evoke contemplation on substantial aspects of life such as the environment, social or cultural constructs, and emotional or spiritual concepts. They produce the 'big picture' in grand style; broad vistas, sculpted portraits of dignitaries, symbolic motifs or abstract imagery that invite viewers to contemplate humanity's interaction with the physical and metaphysical paradigms of life.
Amanda Shelsher too references significant things in life however she prefers to concentrate on the microcosm as it reflects the macrocosm. The artist employs the idiom of a suburban family home to express the values of nature, nurture and living harmoniously with the self, and others. Her population of hand built porcelain and/or stoneware figures of unspecified gender, stand together in celebration of the important minutiae of life.
I particularly like the collection of four black and white flattened busts set on a shelf, each bearing images of a small house. Number Seven and Picket Fences depict an inviting front yard while Songlines and The Calling reveal Magpies carolling away as they perch on the roof, TV antenna and power lines. Much appreciated too is the collection of busts hosting finely drawn images of floral and food plants that remind us how the beauty of nature can be found everywhere you look, in suburban gardens as well as the bush. Each 'person' is an individual yet they all own a similar sense of the serene. It is as if they have learned the secret of the universe during the firing.
There are other, more well rounded upper torsos, some accompanied by small objects that celebrate the simple yet important aspects of home and community. This is beautifully illustrated in Cradle where a picket fence runs along the half figure's arms as they protectively encircle a small house. There are full figure works too, some covered with fine line sgraffito images of insects, leaves or branches, those small pieces of nature that reflect the grand design. These standing figures reveal a logical evolution in the artist's practice. The surfaces are rougher yet more decorative then earlier works while facial features seem more contemplative. Still they remain quite unique as each has it's own personality.
What I appreciate most about Shelsher's work is how it allows the viewer to experience a gentle sense of 'coming home'. Her style is personal while her comment is universal. Consider the exhibit Mother and Children - Cherish where the figure is bent forward and stands on 'all fours' with two sleeping children nestled in the deep arc of the back. If this person is a beast of burden, judging by the look on the face, we have to believe it is a welcome chore. This well executed exhibit serves as the one that ties all the others together, in form and content.
Shelsher successfully shows us how the simple art of living is a worthy subject to employ when commenting on the complexity of life, the universe and everything. Do see this excellent exhibition of wonderful folk, they'll encourage thoughts about important things, and make you feel right at home.
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