Amanda Shelsher's: Friendly Forms

Article excerpt

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THEY ARE QUIZZICAL AND DREAMY. THEY ARE SILENT, yet seem to have a tale to tell. They have small bald heads, long fingers and broad self-sup porting feet. They are an odd crowd of androgynous nudes that appear alien yet somehow familiar, like the half-forgotten people who loiter around the edges of memory. They are emblematic and engage us with their individuality and idiosyncrasy. They are the handbuilt porcelain and stoneware folk who populate the world of ceramic artist Amanda Shelsher.

The artist says of her figures that they "celebrate the intricacies of human nature and the relationships we have with each other; they look for an understanding of the self and the world around us". That is a tall order for any creative endeavour and few succeed; Shelsher is one of the successful few. Perhaps it is because she chooses to overlook the 'big picture' in favour of recognising and celebrating life's small miracles like birth, growth and regeneration.

Born in Western Australia, Shelsher is a full time artist, wife and mother. Her formative years were spent in the bush and forest of the hills east of Perth. At the age of 10 she was introduced to the joy of ceramics by her artist parents. Her creativity was nurtured and soon she was making and selling her own works at local craft fairs. Shelsher continued to practice and learn more about her art. She attended Curtin University of Technology where she completed a Bachelor of Arts (Visual Arts--Ceramics) then went on to earn a Graduate Diploma in Education (Art--Secondary). She taught art in Australia, the UK and France, and travelled extensively before returning to Perth in 1998 where she commenced her journey as a full-time artist.

Since then she has exhibited in Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, Queensland, Alice Springs, as well as numerous galleries throughout Western Australia, and has won a plethora of awards. But Shelsher admits her greatest honour was being invited to participate in such prestigious exhibitions as Collect: International Art Fair, London (UK in 2006), SOFA Chicago (USA in 2004, 05, 06, 07) and Art Taipei, Taiwan, in 2006, represented by Raglan Gallery in Sydney. She is also proud to have her work shown at international art festivals and fairs in Seoul, Korea, and Florence, Italy, represented by FORM in Perth in Western Australia.

Her early works reflected the experiences of an itinerant artist/teacher. Then, Shelsher's unique figures were seen in concert with boats, birds and buildings to reflect the traveller's sense of freedom, exploration and connecting with different people in foreign places. Now, married with a husband, two young children and a house in the suburbs, Shelsher's life has taken a new turn and her current artistic expression adeptly reflects that change.

Her most recent population (and I use that word purposely as each figure is an individual, in body and spirit) reflects her current daily experiences. Her figures appear to be contemplating and quietly celebrating life in all its forms. Their open eyes and the slightly upturned corners of their mouths suggest either wonder or contentment. Their broad arms cradle small houses or nests, strong hands gently hold eggs or seedpods; all inspire thoughts and feelings on nurturing and protecting new growth. These folk are resolute in their reference to the interrelationship between humanity and nature.

Domesticity and being a full time wife and mother has taken the artist further along her creative path. …