Vessels are not ordinary functional objects in Cheryl Lucas's ceramic practice. They become instead conceptual containers through which she comments on topical subjects such as the depletion of the land by pests and our throw-away consumer culture.

Lucas's upbringing on a high country station in Central Otago provided the backdrop for her provocative entry in the 2009 Portage Ceramic Awards. A row of slumped and functionless earthenware milk jugs were slung over a length of number 8 wire to resemble a fence lined with rabbit pelts. By subverting the long-held metaphorical association of the vessel as a feminine symbol of life and nourishment, the act of making a fence of 'skinned jugs' with no utilitarian purpose and no possibility to nourish became a metaphor for the destruction of the land by rabbits.


The themes of excess and depletion continue in the works that make up Lucas's installation, DIP. The works are built upon the dual premise that nothing can be done in the environment without it having some impact (good or bad), and that nothing can be viewed in isolation without connections to the already seen or known. Lucas mines the subject through the subtle adaptation of domestic kitchenware. Punctured surfaces, thick viscous glazes, and handles made from fence wire are combined with visible signs of wear and tear - a bottle shows the patchy residue of water leakage, a funnel retains the traces of the materials once poured through it. Simple alterations to the scale of certain objects create strangely ambiguous hybrids - a coal bucket, for instance, vaguely resembles a sheep carcass, a pram, and a mechanical digger.




Cheryl Lucas is a contemporary ceramist based in the South Island.

Cheryl Lucas, Jug Skins, 2009.