IT is a rare thing to feel that an artist has taken their experiences and distilled them into a material substance.
Many artists use materials to make representations of things, but it is something else altogether to see work which seems imbued with the artist’s experience and somehow captures the essence of a place or an event.
One way of telling if an artwork has this exceptional quality is if you feel surprised somehow when you see it, even though you may have seen it before. It’s not unlike revisiting a landscape which you think you know, only to find something there that you hadn’t noticed before.
I have this experience each time I see Ros Auld’s ‘Tilpa’ from the Orange Regional Gallery collection. For many years now, Ros Auld – a master ceramist based in Borenore – has been evolving her material response to the Australian landscape.
You can see in all of her work how closely she observes the geological forces that shape the land and then translates them into a language that is entirely her own.
One aspect that sets her work apart is the integration of her surfaces with the underlying form. It can often happen with ceramics that the glazes and slips appear as an afterthought to the clay body underneath, a decorative outer layer.
With Auld's work the surface is often broken up and layered so that we don’t look at her work but through and into it. It takes on the quality of weathered earth, bringing with it associations of geological time and erosion.
Tilpa is one of a series of works which she made in response to a trip out west in 1998 in preparation for an exhibition ‘Desert Journeys’ at the gallery. Tilpa is a small town in far western NSW.
Auld was struck by the flatness of the land, so in a brilliant inversion she upended that aspect into this shard of earth.
This is a surprising form that rises up in contrast to its boulder-like base.
From just this one example we can see that it is difficult to put Ros Auld neatly into a category. She is as much a painter as a ceramist, as well as being a refined conceptual artist.
I guess you could say she makes artworks which simply feel right in themselves.
Look out for Ros Auld's work in her upcoming exhibition with painter Claire Primrose, at Orange Regional Gallery in May, 2017, curated by Peter Haynes.