Anatomy of: Alana Wilson

Sydney-based in her beachside studio, Alana Wilson responds to the
environment she exists within and the duality of object and
experience. She references modes of history and what it means to
participate in the future. Here, we uncover the inherently tacit
nature of Alana Wilson’s ceramic oeuvre.

 
 

“...to understand the esthetic in its ultimate and approved forms, one must begin with it in the raw; in the events and scenes that hold the attentive eye and ear of man, arousing his interest and affording him enjoyment as he looks and listens...”

John Dewey, Art as Experience, 1934



Essay Isabella Chow


In John Dewey’s study of aesthetics, Art as Experience, he proposes that to fully comprehend the meaning of artistic products, “...we have to forget them for a time, to turn aside from them and have recourse to the ordinary forces and conditions of experience that we do not usually regard as esthetic.” Dewey reminds us to consider the overlooked, to illuminate the process, not the product. To examine the essence of an artistic work - the muscle memory of one’s hands, the subconscious habits, or the meditative state of calm repetition. The connections we develop through the sensorial. It might be the smell of fresh paint, the texture of soft clay, or the sound of pencil on paper. How can we expect to understand the outcome, if we do not understand its causal conditions and formation?

We shift our gaze from the vessel before us to the body that has shaped it. We witness the soft clay, so responsive to touch, manipulated by flesh. We consider the hands immersed in the clay, kneading and rolling. We examine the elbow that drives the shoulders and the muscles that ripple in response. Every movement is calculated and refined and yet unquestionably subconscious.

"My making this work is
a journey to connect with people through
medium and process."

She says, “the reason anyone does anything is for human connection, whether it be with a single person or a group of people with similar ideas, or you simply want to connect with humanity in whatever way you can. My making this work is a journey to connect with people through medium and process”. Alana reminds us that beyond the superficial, the core of human experience is the desire to go beyond oneself, to see and be seen by another. We seek this connection in a myriad of ways - hers is through her work. In turn, we connect with her through the physicality of her vessels, each having made something with our own hands in our lifetime and thus sharing the intimacy of the experience.

The clay, once supple and flesh-like, is fired. Undergoing a rapid transformation, it emerges in an altered state, bubbling and cracking in its glaze. We notice its resemblance to flesh, weathered and decayed. Her experimental glazing, we’re told, “reflects decay and change, of which the environment is constantly doing. There is beauty in change. I want my work to act as a metaphor for openness of change.” Her vessels stand at this point in history, embedded deep in the past as artefact, in the present as an embodiment of self, and in the future as a prediction of environmental evolution. We learn from her work to acknowledge the future by uniting with the present - to celebrate the process in anticipation of the product.


 

Director of Photography Don Buppapirak
Art Director Edana Isobel Jamora
Drone Operator Cam Batten
Sound Design Luis Piazetta

 

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