Introducing Tracy Keith...
"Ko te oko mātauranga, tō tātou oko taiao /The vessel of knowledge is the vessel of our natural environment"
New Zealand artist Tracy Keith, has a profound connection to place and form. His forms pursue both the sculptural and the tradition of the vessel, but extend into more reflective and complex territory.
Keith’s art practice considers the multifaceted journey of human civilisation – physical, intellectual and spiritual, culminating in modernity.
‘When I build ceramic works, I intentionally avoid the instantly recognisable and instead create abstracted forms that evoke something ancient and timeless’
Echoing the symbolism of talismans, the container takes on an ancient value of memory holder and conveys a strong architectural presence like the best of mid twentieth century Brutalism. Similarly, an industrial quality is apparent, with jutting cogs and rough edges, the work appears like a part of a machine. With a clear presence of their own, Keith's work sits within the context of New Zealand pottery with its Anglo-Oriental influences but with a more assertive and primal form. Part traditional vessel part sculptural object. Keith explains "They are vessels of our natural environment stripped-back, roughly cast, and embossed forms, which help to transition between the past and the now."
The vessels are Raku fired ceramics, a process derived from the Japanese Raku ceramic firing technique of removing the form from the kiln when it has reached a glowing red heat, then immersing the vessel in combustable materials. The drastic change in atmospheric conditions between the kiln and the outside air and materials results in often dramatic clay and glaze colouration and thermal shock cracks.
"The Raku process has become the conduit between the past and the present, the representation of old industry interlaced with new industry, ancient rituals transcending to indorse the new rituals, Raku vessels that reflect tea bowls of Asia where they hold huge significance in ceremonial practices, vessels that hold life to enhance life, the whenua (land) is but a vessel that grows life and gives life. Through the vernacular of clay construction and transformation of the Raku process, the sculptural vessels truly reveal their visual energy and diverse memories and the connection to the whenua." TK