Coco Elder

Big Waterhole- Ku-ring-gai, 2023

27 × 11 × 45 cm
Working with clay enables Coco to connect with the earth. Her slab vessels mirror similar shapes of the land and geology around the various areas where she has lived in both the Northern Beaches and the Bellingen Shire. They are inspired by, and often reflect her landscape paintings. The smooth earthenware clay is painted in a simple black underglaze with sgraffito (Italian for carving back into the surface), a similar method of her oil paintings which are also incised, and in this instance, reveal the white of the clay. This black and white colour scheme references the effects of positive and negative space; shadow and light; and the historical nature of what has passed. In other instances, it also mirrors the charred effects from the bushfires. These pots have a unique presence as whilst the vessels appear 2-dimensional front on, the landscape imagery coils and intertwines around the vessel, creating an ongoing narrative of the land, that takes the viewer on a cultural heritage journey, that can be viewed at any angle. The audience can decide which way is front and back, or reverse. Whilst they have a sculptural quality, they have been clear glaze fired on the inside. This vitrification process also makes them fully functional as a vase.

Coco Elder is an Australian artist specialising in painting and ceramics. Her early childhood experiences of weekends spent with her family in the Blue Mountains, making miniature gardens & collecting clay from the side of the road to make pots fired in the open fire, put her in touch with mother earth and helped her to resonate and connect with nature. Elder’s experience of studying Landscape Architecture sparked her interest in botany & geology and opened her perception to the delicacy of various microclimates and how this affects the lie of the land.
Following her degree in Fine Arts, majoring in Painting and Ceramics, a visit to Cezanne’s studio and Mont Sainte-Victoire in Provence, influenced the way she was able to make sense of the Australian bush via geometrical patterns and the interlude between shadow and light.
Alongside her Visual Arts high school teaching qualifications, Coco has also been a Lecturer at the College of Fine Arts (COFA) at UNSW. She now resides in Raleigh, in the Bellingen Shire where she works from her studio at home and takes her inspiration from the creeks and landscapes from Gumbaynggirr Country’s Bellinger Valley and surrounds.
Coco has been a finalist in numerous awards including the Mosman Art Prize, The Environmental Art and Design Prize, the Warringah Art Prize and Paddington Art Prize.

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