In her first solo show outside of South Africa, ceramic artist Lucinda Mudge presents a new collection of 20 vases inspired by everything from cartoons to pop songs and the Art Deco movement. Mudge’s work captivates the eye with its rich colours and intricate details, yet beneath the glimmering surfaces of her vases lurks a world simmering with paranoia and tension. Made using hand-mixed glazes and stains, and produced over the course of a year, each creation is as unique as the stories it tells. We chatted to the artist to find out more about her work and latest exhibition, The Wolf is Always Near.
What sparked your love of ceramics?
I’ve been fascinated with ceramics since childhood. It’s the transformation that the clay undergoes, the potential that an unfired piece holds and the chance beauty of the final product.
Why use vases as your medium?
The joy of a round canvas is that the story will link up and repeat. My vases tell stories and I use them as a reference to the human condition, the idea that we are on repeat. Also, with a vase, you can’t see the whole picture at once. The image on the back will always be hidden, but we know it is there. This is a reference to the way we live – what we choose not to see even though we know it’s there.
What is your design process?
I have no formal ceramic training and learnt to make vases by watching tutorials on YouTube, so I find building them technically challenging and very demanding – if I do one thing wrong, the vase will fail. It’s also not in my nature to make test tiles or measure the amount of stain in milligrams, and this carefree attitude results in a rawness that carries through to the final work.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
My inspiration comes from observing people’s actions. I live in a semi-remote part of Plettenberg Bay and am surrounded by natural beauty. This paradise, however, sees a fair amount of casual violence and social unrest, which is largely due to South Africa’s terrible history of racial division. We have one of the biggest gaps between the haves and the have-nots, and these are issues I can’t ignore and which I spend a lot of time digesting.
Tell us about the title of your latest collection.
The title, The Wolf is Always Near, is taken from a Russian lullaby and refers to my conceived pressures in my career to succeed, as well as drawing on fables and the idea of animal predation. My work continues to reference paranoia and fear, two themes that I feel most South Africans can relate to on many levels.
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