girl with flees
all images copyright of Kali van der Merwe
For one year, Kali van der Merwe used the surfaces of plates as other people use the pages of a diary, on a daily basis, she recorded her feelings and responses to the world and the people around her. The plates this became a record of her personal life as well as a revealing testament to an unusual and idiosyncratic vision of the world.
Van der Merwe approaches her work with scant regard for the conventions of ceramic taste. Her plates are crudely made, they are drape-moulded and a foot is hastily applied. However on their upper surfaces the urgency of the images springs forth from the quick brushstrokes, the layering of the colour and glazes and the rapid gestures.
Van der Merwe’s images are ugly and raw. They have a gruesome quality, as if the artist had inhabited some nether realm of demons and goblins for much of her young life. This is a compelling world. A vision of it revealed to the viewer as if the artist had meditated between the known world and the unknown realm of darkness. This causes a disquietening shift in perception which marks van der Merwe’s plates as works that transcend the objectness of plate.
In spite of the crude ceramic technique, her works function in the manner of the best art. Art that causes the viewer to leave with a new and altered vision of the world is immeasurably enriching.
By Wilma Cruise - Contemporary Ceramics in South Africa