Monday, November 24, 2008

Pisco Runa

Last Friday night Pan Gallery hosted the opening of Mabelle Marra's exhibition - Pisco Runa. It was a very joyous occasion. The artist was excited, her friends and (extended!) family were excited and those who had not had the opportunity to experience Mabelle's work before were taken with the life and character of each piece.

Mabelle Marra’s approach to ceramics is greatly influenced by her Argentinean background. Using pre-Columbian firing methods, she creates vessels that reinterpret wares from the Condorhuasi period, 650BC to 700AD, of North Western Argentina.

Traditional coca pipes and matrimonial drinking vessels assume animal and human forms undertaking everyday activities that connect to the artist’s life experiences - working, meditating, playing instruments, pregnancy and birth.

In this series of work Mabelle introduces us to the shaman Pisco Runa (Birdman). A loved and respected member of his community Pisco Runa came back as a bird after his death to watch over his village.

Each terracotta piece is burnished using a quartz stone, beeswax and animal fats, sometimes even oils from her own skin, “giving some self, some soul, to the pots”. Wood fired in a kiln built in Pisco Runa’s likeness and fuelled with scrap and salvaged timber, the surface of each piece is endowed with gray and black flashes from the ensuing ash and smoke.

Mabelle’s passion and enthusiasm for her cultural heritage breathes life into this ancient craft and enables a new audience to experience her history in a tangible way."

Pisco Runa is on at Pan Gallery until 20 December 2008

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