I hear my mother’s voice as I ‘stitch’ the thread into the vessel – “The back should be as neat as the front”. I see her hands create intricate stitches that transform cloth into a picture. The silk threads I use are drawn from her embroidered cushion cover. The gold seam captures a moment in time and anchors my memories to the vessel wall.
Gathered Threads is an assemblage of hand-built sculptural vessels that explore notions of memory, family history and cultural connection. Working with two materials, porcelain and repurposed silk thread allows me to explore these ideas not only through the form and colour of the porcelain vessel, but also with the thread that is knotted and stitched into its walls.
Working with the image of layered thoughts, I build a ‘memory-scape’ into the wall of the vessels, a collage of coils and fragments made such that the lines and method of making are evident like striations in a landscape. Little gaps or pierced holes evocative of memory lapses serve as a point of connection between my two materials. Silk threads interleaved into the openings bind the memories with a knot or stitches.
The threads I use have all been worn or used by mother. They connect her practice to mine and continue the cycle of making. They also serve as windows into my family history. In each knotted thread resides a story. It is rich in memories of people and place and opens conversations about family gatherings and shared times, about rituals and practices. Within its fibres reside narratives of who I belong to and where I come from. Brought together through my process, the porcelain and thread vessels serve as memory-keepers, a powerful holding space of ancestral history and cultural tradition.
Roshni Senapati is an Australian ceramic artist based in Meanjin/Brisbane. Working with clay and thread, her recent work explores ideas of memory and connection and touches on the theme of ancestral history and cultural connection. She works with porcelain to make sculptural vessels which include looped and knotted silk threads drawn from old family garments. Roshni also continues her early practice of making large coil-built sculptural forms that explore the notion of place.
Roshni was born in Mumbai, India, and has called Australia home for forty years. There is a duality in her practice, a response to her experience and association with the legacy of two cultures.
Following a 35-year career as an early childhood educator, Roshni is focusing on building a ceramic practice. She started formal ceramics classes in 2016 and is continuing her studio-led exploration of sculptural vessels, working from her home studio.
Her porcelain and silk thread sculptures have been exhibited in group exhibitions in Brisbane at Vacant Assembly (2021) and Makers Gallery (2020, 2019). Her work was featured in the Winter Show 2020 at Thrown Contemporary, London. Her first show in Brisbane, TOGETHER: paintings and pots at Percolator Gallery (2018) saw her large landscape vessels paired with paintings.
Roshni is a finalist in the Ceramics Arts Queensland 2021 Siliceous Award for Ceramic Excellence, as well as the Little Things Art Prize 2021.