"AN UNCANNY LIKENESS
It’s difficult to escape the flight of the imagination in Lynda Draper’s new work. Set within a dream-like milieu, an anthology of wondrous and majestic objects float and bob in space. Referencing kings and queens, and the flamboyance of the French Baroque, these large filigree works are woven from clay, and while not explicitly figurative, possess familiar facial markers which bring into play the metaphysical qualities attributed to inanimate objects by human memory and experience.
Draper spent the European winter near Versailles, where marble sculptures set among the gardens are shrouded in the winter months to prevent frost from taking its toll on precarious limbs. And while the influence from her residency is certainly evident, rather than stimulating work of this nature, it has merely activated and amplified elements of her recent practice. From smaller ‘tiaras’ in 2016, her work has evolved into sizeable ‘crowned portraits’ of clay. Hovering somewhere between the real and the unreal, these works are architectural and figurative, formed and formless, literal and fictional. They bewitch and amuse, revealing multiple characters and personalities only after careful observation.
The medium of clay is so exquisitely anomalous in Draper’s work that it becomes, to the viewer, an afterthought rather than a dialogue prompt for works that are traditionally contextualised by their medium. And this is how it should be. Clay has undergone a renaissance in the past decade or so; no longer is it in the domain of craft. With a strong conceptual narrative and by pushing the medium beyond its natural limits, ceramicists like Draper can be counted among Australia’s significant artists who contribution is gaining ground in contemporary art discourse.
And yet, it is the use of clay which makes Draper’s work so utterly extraordinary. Ambitious in scale, virtuosic in composition, she has the ability to make the unmakeable. Drawing from a conventional practice of coiling and handbuilding, the maker’s hand is evident on every square inch of her work. The uneven coils are shaped by the impressions of her grip on the responsive nature of the material. But Draper somehow dispenses with the inherent limitations of the soft clay medium, manipulating it in a way which defies physics and logic.
Her award-winning installation for the Sidney Myer Australian Ceramic Award in 2019 is testament to an artist whose practice has consolidated. Her ambition, robust conceptual thinking and technical understanding of materials have reached a zenith which has been rewarded her with one of the most prestigious prizes in Australian art"