A waste environment; The new normal.
The skeletal insect, colonises the post-apocalyptic landscape, creating its new world order.
The insect embodies the living dead, a ghostly shell of its former self. It is constructed by the meaning of and process behind the ‘burn out’–the remnant form after plant matter is asphyxiated in clay and incinerated. Hollow but uncomfortably resilient, they simultaneously evoke traces of life and loss.
The sculpture offers only the slightest sense of humanity as the cause of the environmental destruction, offering none of the surfaces expected of the ceramic arts. And certainly, no forms fashioned smooth by worn fingers. In erasing the efforts of the creator, the forms are escalated to their own existence.
The dripping glaze shows the aftermath of human-made devastation. Illustrating the disfigurement of the natural world. The decimated landscape form juxtaposed with the constructed Insecta thrusts the viewer into a dystopian world. Consequently, the sculpture challenges the anthropocentric view, depicting ‘the rest’ as the sole survivor of our inevitable environmental demise.
Mahala Hill is a contemporary ceramic artist based in regional NSW, striving to push both the limits and the pre-conceived notions of her medium. Hill’s practice is discursive in nature, material exploration leads to ideas and extends her conceptual intent and brings to the foreground further questions or conundrums for exploration. Recently Mahala has been exploring curiosity, wonder, beauty, death, the apocalypse and how by using these motifs she can raise awareness of pressing environmental issues.
Hill’s practice has been centred around the process of the ‘burn out’. A ‘burn out’ is the remnant shell-like form that emerges from inside a layer of liquid clay after the combustible organic plant material has incinerated. The residual matter is a ghostly, shell-like phantom form or ‘burnt out’ spectre, simultaneously evoking traces of a life and a loss. This process of directly creating a brittle clay form from transformed organic matter is a crucial element underpinning Hill’s exploration of what has happened and what is currently happening to the environment.
Mahala has exhibited widely within Australia in both group and solo settings. Her work is held in several public collections including City of Townsville Art Collection, Macquarie Group Collection, The ACT Legislative Assembly Art Collection and private collections within Australia and Singapore. In 2020 Mahala was awarded City of Townsville Art Collection Award and the Macquarie Group Emerging Artist Prize.