Tania Rolland's Journeys

By Finch, Karen | Ceramics Art & Perception, December 2007 | Go to article overview

Tania Rolland's Journeys


Finch, Karen, Ceramics Art & Perception


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ART IS A JOURNEY--WHETHER ONE IS THE MAKER OR the viewer. Where the conventions are observed and the pathways are clear and predictable, both artist and viewer have a well-prescribed route to follow, a safe place within which to explore. History informs us that those artists who have been given the accolade of greatness are those who have followed their own path, breaking rules, moving outside the conventions to forge new ways, eventually attaining recognition. It is a sometimes lonely way to travel.

The dichotomy of focused fascination with process and the isolation of being a groundbreaker is one which makes for a peculiarly individual struggle to both resolve the problems and questions of the journey while continuing to maintain contact with the broader community of peers, viewers and critics.

Tania Rollond is on such a journey. As the body of her work grows, it becomes possible to see a pattern in the creative process. Yet, each collection within the sequence of work shows marked differences as she continues to search for ways to fully realise her quest for the elusive language she has been working on since she made the transition from graphic arts to ceramics. Her graphic arts training has imbued both her process and the resulting work with a discipline that is both impressive and daunting--and also, at times, something of a constraint within the manifestly different medium of clay.

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Central to Rollond's work is drawing. Informing the drawing is her fascination with the patterns and structures to be found in both the natural and manmade world around her. She attributes the intensity of her habit of looking and searching in part to her country upbringing. Rollond grew up in Western Australia, between Esperance and Kalgoorlie. She has a theory that, surrounded by the vastness of the stark landscape of that country, she began to look to the small things, the micro-elements which made up the greater environment; seeking patterns and structures which would make sense of the vast scale around her. In numerous artist statements, she reiterates her enjoyment of looking at things, stressing that the looking and seeing are both the beginning and the continuation of the larger process. She is now living on 100 acres of rugged bush land in the New South Wales Southern Highlands, with massive cliffs, a creek and waterholes supporting a wealth of birds and other wildlife. It is a different landscape to the stark Western Australian country of her childhood, but is still the touchstone for her drawing.

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She seeks out the tiny details within the physical world--the structure of a leaf, the sequence of a seedpod developing and releasing its seeds, focusing on the infinitesimal component parts of the environment --finding the connections between the micro and macro relationships of naturally occurring patterns and structures as well as the changes brought about through erosion and weathering. The following drawings are an effort to dig into the meaning of the seen elements, creating an ownership and a sense of her place within the larger context of the landscape. At this point, Rollond's journey begins to diverge from the commonly trod path of the potter.

Landscape is a well-known and understood foundation and point of departure for many potters. What sets Rollond's approach apart from the majority is the focus on drawing which stays with her beyond the initial observational works.

The clays she uses are chosen primarily for the properties that will enable her to continue to explore the possibilities of drawing on the forms with the inherent challenges which come from dealing with a three instead of two-dimensional support. Early studies at the National Art School in Sydney with porcelain caught her interest, primarily for the malleability of porcelain clay and the ease with which she could impress her own presence with finger marks and indentations upon the finished piece.

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