New Era (Windhoek)

23 November 2012

Namibia: The Doyen of Ceramicists Is Exhibiting At Her Home

Windhoek — An exhibition of ceramic works by well-known ceramicist, Sarie Maritz, opened at her studio, at 19 Barella Street, Klein Windhoek, on Friday. Sarie brings an extensive background to the development and production of ceramics in Namibia to the fore.

Ceramics as a medium has a sound and popular following in Namibia. Despite this, the Sarie's exhibition is one of only two notable showings this year. The Potters' Association in Swakopmund, is responsible for the other. The making of objects from clay, is seen as a common undertaking on the African continent, and clay deposits in Namibia have lead to exploration in ceramics, in both the utilitarian and purely object d'art contexts. Sarie explores both, and in that process, she produces not only objects of great beauty in a purely fine art context but she also creates works that serve very ordinary utilitarian purposes in the home.

The making of containers and serving bowls underscores the development of objects for daily use, that have developed from the simple organic gourd, down to beautiful, well-designed and manufactured, durable objects of kiln-fired earthenware. Ceramics have moved up a developmental curve from simple organic objects found in nature to commercial enterprises, worldwide, which feed the requirements of an extensive market demand. Sarie creates her own brand of ceramics for daily use in her home studio. They range from the almost simplistic smoke-fired earthenware objects where the process is based on traditional African pit-firing techniques.

In this process, she is ably assisted by Lucia Tjituka, who has had her own efforts recognised by the granting of a number of awards. The rest of her considerable list of methods involves under-glazing, over-glazing, the use of slip and wax techniques. Majolica ('in-glaze'), and tin glaze are amongst the extensive range of techniques employed in creating what she refers to as 'functional objects'.

Though the medium is recognised and honoured as a fine art element, Sarie, nevertheless, addresses her creative efforts to the notion of 'function before form'. The opening of her home exhibition on Friday attracted numerous members of the public, who have acquired and collected her works over many years, and continue to do so. That is usually a testament to the pursuit of excellence.

Some of her blue scraffito works are made in such a way, and display the kind of aesthetics that it seems almost sacrilegious to fill them with food and other consumables. But such is the nature of fine ceramic pieces that are both functional and beautiful pieces of art at the same time.

She draws on many different ceramic traditions, which have histories reaching to ancient times and civilizations like Persia, Africa, and the Far East, with its plethora of ceramic methods. Sarie can be regarded as the doyen of ceramicists in Namibia, and she does not rest on her laurels. The works on show are from her 2012 production period. There are singular items from 2011, but this is an exhibition of recent and current creative processes.

The commercial world of ceramics, which has been overwhelmed by cheap, low-grade products from certain countries, have served to discourage many a promising young ceramicist. It is not possible to compete with these poor quality imports on price. What Sarie produces are unique pieces that will not be reproduced in future. Every piece stands on its own, and, with time will be considered to be a collectable of value, worthy of becoming a family heirloom. This exhibition closes on 02 December 2012.

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