Tansey Contemporary is pleased to present a solo exhibition of Israeli-Australian ceramic artist Avital Sheffer with fifteen works in her signature style. Sheffer’s voluminous earthenware clay vessels reflect her lifelong engagement with Middle Eastern cultures, history, and designs as well as her Jewish heritage. Her works, with their unique aesthetic at once contemporary and historical, explore materiality, spirituality, origins, language, and memory. The titles of her work reference ancient Greek words, locations in the West Bank, and constellations to name a few.
Sheffer says, “On one visit home, standing in front of clay vessels that held the Dead Sea Scrolls in The Israel Museum, the course of my life had changed. I needed to make clay containers, ones that hold stories and secrets.” She continues adding, ““An engagement with the landscape, architecture, languages and wisdom of that part of the world animate my work. I am interested in the frayed edges of language and mythologies, where cross-fertilization with other cultures takes place. Personal experiences of conflict, migration, dislocation and renewal intersect with the dilemmas between traditions and modernity.”
Sheffer creates her vessels by hand, coil building up from a clay base inside a plaster mold. She adds surface details as well as oxide-colored slips and engobes used as decoration. Each vessel is fired in several processes. Sheffer takes the silk screened designs printed on the surfaces from myriad sources including architecture, textiles, calligraphy, and decorative tiles. Her works simultaneously speak of ancient civilizations yet remain grounded in the contemporary.
Sheffer grew up in Tel Aviv, Israel before moving to Australia in 1990. She studied ceramics at TAFE North Coast Lismore and also has a degree in homeopathy. She now lives on the North Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Exhibited extensively throughout Australia, the United States, and United Kingdom, Sheffer’s work has been presented at major fairs including Collect in London, Art London and SOFA. She has won the Josephine Ulrick Prize, The Gold Coast International Ceramic Award, and The Border Art Prize in addition to grants from the Australia Council for the Arts. Her work is held in public collections at the National Gallery of Australia, Powerhouse Museum, Atelier d’Art de France, The Jewish Museum of Australia, and numerous private, corporate, and foundation collections in Australia and the United States.