Artist Statement

by Gaëtanne Sylvester

My practice as an artist involves research into my chosen media; clay, printmaking, digital imaging and installation. It is supported by historical and visual research within specific themes; the history of lace production, the financial independence of the women who produced it, its role in fashion history, and its social significance today as a symbol of sensuality. More recently, my practice has incorporated an exploration of the genetic code and its influence on our body, mind and spirit. I have used the shape and the contour of a cell repeatedly in my work. The cell contains the details of my identity, my DNA. I observed in formal medical illustrations of the cell how the helix and its inner contents resemble lace visually. The intricate and complex patterns at the center of a cell are like the delicate threads in a fine piece of lace.

My study of cellular life provoked the investigation of clay as an organic substance. Clay is earth, it is organic, it has limits which must be respected. I have incorporated the cell-like structure of lace into my ceramic practice: pressing it into the surface as embellishment as well as inserting it into three dimensional shapes. Clay is tactile and sensual in its raw form. It has a particular significance for me. The malleability of clay allows me to journey inward, to meditate and to connect with the reality of my limits. It is the simplicity of clay in juxtaposition with the complexity of lace that appeals to me. Its importance transcends politics, beliefs, differences, injustices, wars. It is earth. I belong to it, it does not belong to me. Every molecule depends upon another molecule, like the patterns in lace where every stitch depends upon another stitch. By decorating with lace, my intention is to create an impression of strength and of fragility. I am celebrating the femininity in its delicate balance and the harmony of its patterns.