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Zen Parry
Australian ceramist

Madonna Wore  PigtailsWith an art practice based on pilgrimages, Australian ceramist Zen Parry’s haunting archetypes seem to carry a message that transcends an individuals’ cultural reference or heritage. Zen’s signature triangular form is a metaphor for the dark corners of the human psyche, i.e. those thoughts that you would rather not confront. These pilgrimages can take up to 4 months to complete, and are often grueling exercises in discipline and physicality involving endurance and mental focus. It is when the walking cycle has been completed that she retreats to her studio so that the real journey may begin. Her latest works include the cult of the Black Madonna in Poland, inspiration from walking along the River Ganges in India and completing the 88 temple circular pilgrimage on Shikoku island, Japan.

Zen’s educational background is non-art focused, however, her working method is entirely craft based. Her application of ceramic principles is minimal, preferring instead to work with pit-fired clay, and components that are hand made and assembled, borne of process and ritual, not wheel and kiln. She was received numerous grants and awards for her sculptural work, and prefers a lifestyle based on experiencing different cultures directly when ever possible. Currently she is balancing her art career between the USA, Eastern Europe and Korea.

Artist Statement:
Archetypal forms, and their undercurrents, have always inspired me, and have now become the primary form of expression in the artwork that I create. As a global Artist these forms create a universal language that is understood or sensed well beyond geographic or political borders.

As a Sculptor, I am focused on ‘making by hand’, preferring to incorporate the marks of each process boldly and actively, and to present commonplace craft traditions in surprising and contemporary ways. These traditions are often learnt and studied in cultures outside of my own.

Installation view from Ceske Krumlov, Czech Republic, 2004Red Saree

Preferred materials are pit-fired or raku ceramics and natural fibers, both of which respond to intimate touch that creates a bond with the maker that can then be transmitted to the viewer. As a counterpoint to that aesthetic, the same forms are also constructed using glass, electronic sensors and fiber optics. The glass components are constructed using torchwork techniques, and the fiber optics and sensors are incorporated inside each pod. These independent works are often combined in large installations. The audience is invited into the environment so that they may experience the tactile qualities and ponder the sculptural and conceptual qualities of the work in that space.

These sculptures are like personal signposts and mementos from each journey and adventure that is undertaken. They can imply different emotions or experiences, and never fail to engage the viewer on some level. Where the ceramic works might draw the viewer to them, the glass works arrest the audience in their passage, creating a very different visual relationship. I always hope that both forms will entice the audience to return, again and again.

Zen’s website – www.ovoo.com
Photography Credit – Paul Foster Photography

Zen’s next installations will be at The Castle, Ceske Krumlov in the Czech Republic from 1 May – 30 Oct 2006 (www.virtual-gallery.cz), and at the Contemporary Crafts Museum and Gallery, Portland, Oregon, USA from Sep 30 – Nov 14 2006 (www.contemporarycrafts.org)

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