Wales, United kingdom born 1940
London, Greater London, England
Materials & Technique: ceramics, stoneware, stoneware, oxides
Elizabeth Fritsch is among the most highly regarded of contemporary British ceramicists, with achievements over a 40-year career that have brought her to international prominence. Her characteristic form and design language is revealed in this hand-built work, its flattened and foreshortened form presenting the viewer with an illusion of drawn perspective. Viewed from the front, its narrow oval opening appears as if one is looking into a crater while its painted surface suggests a cloud-scattered sky. In this work, Fritsch has deconstructed the characteristic geometric surface patterning of her earlier work, allowing each cube-like element to scatter freely against her ‘skyscape’ and further her playful visual contradictions. While this work is a tour-de-force of illusion and visual complexity, it is also an object of refined and tactile sensuality, inviting the hand to explore and verify what the eye is seeing.
Fritsch’s work shows the evolution of British modernist ceramics from the tradition of her early contemporaries, Lucie Rie and Hans Coper, both of whom are represented in the NGA collection with works from the 1960s and 1970s. Fritsch’s work joins those ceramics in the National Gallery of Australia collection by her English contemporaries Martin Smith and Gordon Baldwin, the Danish ceramicist Bodil Manz and the Japanese ceramicist Takahiro Kondo, all of whom worked toward creating a new pathway for ceramics between functionalism, design and sculpture.
Elizabeth Fritsch was born in Wales in 1940 and trained as a classical musician at the Royal Academy of Music in London before gaining an MA in Ceramics from the Royal College of Art, London in 1971. She has held solo exhibitions in Britain and Europe since 1986 and participated in group exhibitions internationally since 1985. She has received numerous awards for her work, including a CBE in 1995.
Dr Robert Bell AM
Senior Curator Decorative Arts and Design
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra