The visiting Mozambican ceramicist Mapfara emerged last night for the opening of his first exhibition in Melbourne. Mapfara had been here on a Commonwealth Fellowship and had managed to settle himself in a foreign city, with a foreign language and make work in a little over three months – largely thanks to an indefatigable openness to whatever this strange place might offer. He was also helped by a very welcoming ceramics community. He’s pictured at the opening here with Anne Ferguson from Easy Street Studios who shared a bench with Mapfara and helped him with materials.
Mapfara’s work is a largely personal celebration of life force. In rough English, he describes it as ‘bestial’. It’s hard to know whether his creatures are made of one or two beings. They are definitely sexual, perhaps hermaphroditic. Apparently his forms have loosened a little since being in Melbourne. Hard to think that’s an influence of Melbourne, but perhaps Mapfara became a little more Mozambican while he was here.
Made in Mozambique – Ho Gan Gallery 210 Smith Street, Collingwood; 15-29 January 2009.
A young ceramicist from Maputo Mozambique has arrived in Melbourne for six months thanks to a Commonwealth Fellowship. This is a once in a life time opportunity to experience another world of ceramics, art and craft. Here he is with Vipoo Srivilasa and Chris Headley, who warmly welcomed him into their studio. Above is an example of some of the strange fantastic creatures that he has made out of clay back home. There’s rumour of an exhibition of his work with another Mozambican artist in February next year.
Before the studio visit, Mapfara and I had a look at Look!, the new show of contemporary art at the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia. I was curious to see this show as the website said that ‘several artists in Look! embrace craft handwork and a folk art sensibility in the creative process’. Indeed there are some intriguingly made works in the show, such as ceramics by Janet Korakas and glass sculpture by Nick Mangan. Interestingly, the show overall had a baroque feel, with highly ornamented objects particularly skulls and motorbikes. This can be a challenging style, but risks lapsing into the mere ornamental. This isn’t helped by the strangely flat title of the exhibition, ‘Look’, even with the exclamation mark. I fear the deadening hand of the media department on that one. Nonetheless, great to see the NGV:A venturing into the third dimension.