8 September - 26 September 2005
about the exhibition
Avital Sheffer’s timeless ceramic vessels celebrate Middle Eastern cultures, history and design. The territory she refers to in her work is historically loaded: few places have produced as much influence on the spread of art, language, spirituality and fewer still have produced as much conflict and dispute. Living in Australia, far from her homeland, opens for Avital a perspective from which she investigates and re-evaluates this complex heritage. Her ceramic vessels are inspired by Jewish ritual objects, Islamic architecture, ancient calligraphic texts, and Middle Eastern glass, metal and textile works. Tradition is a departure point in her work with the graceful, vertical bottle forms, often capped with domes, reminiscent of ancient crumbling buildings, scroll containers and ceremonial objects. Some hold the essential proportion of the human figure, and convey interplay between the sacred and the profane. Form, surface and intricate graphic references resonate with great ancient cultures as well as the personal experiences of migration, travel and disappearing traditions. The forms are constructed with coil, slab and mold, multiple fired with added applications of slips, glazes, terra sigilattas and prints. Every layer is a step back in time, connecting the personal and the contemporary with the mystery and wealth of the past.
Avital grew up in Israel, where she practiced fashion and textile design, building design and town planning. After migrating to Australia in 1990 and settling on the North Coast of NSW, she turned to the making of ceramics. She received a Diploma in ceramics from Lismore TAFE College in 2003 and, since 1999, has shown her work in ten group and joint exhibitions in Sydney, Brisbane and regional NSW as well as being selected for four international competitions.