by Sarah Lawless

Gallery Two
March 14
- April 14, 2024

The annual forest fires in BC and other parts of the world have been growing in size and intensity over recent years. Smoke hangs in the air for months, reddening our eyes and settling into our lungs. Climate scientists tell us that these fires are exacerbated by global warming, which is itself the result of carbon & smoke pumped into the atmosphere through smoke stacks and exhaust pipes. This increased carbon has nowhere to go but into our own bodies, as the world’s forests (the “lungs of the earth”) literally go up in smoke.

But smoke signifies other things as well: Smoke from a chimney or roof vent feels cozy & safe. Smoke from a smudge bowl, incense burner, or censer purifies the spirit and carries prayers heavenward. Herbs & other substances are smoked for relaxation & recreation, often leading to addiction—the cure for which is frequently found in the spiritual realm. In these ways, smoke is one of the ties that bind all cultures of the world together, a signal of our common humanity.

Since we first discovered and harnessed the power of fire, humans have invented a varied array of vessels to contain, process, and transport the resulting smoke. The human respiratory system is also composed of pipes, tubes, and vessels through which our bodies process, absorb, and filter the carbon in our environment.

“Smoked” is a series of earthenware ceramic vessels, exploring humans’ complex relationships & cultural associations with smoke. They have been burnished with a stone, or coated with terra sigillata—a suspension of fine clay particles, polished to a smooth sheen—and fired slowly in a sawdust kiln, so that the surfaces of the vessels themselves have been marked by smoke.

-Sarah Lawless

About the Artist:

Ceramic artist Sarah Lawless holds a Bachelor of Arts from Simon Fraser University, and a Diploma in Craft & Design from Kootenay School of the Arts at Selkirk College. She apprenticed with world-renowned ceramic artist Wayne Ngan, and has received several awards for her work. She has been the recipient of a BC Creative Achievement Award, a finalist for the national RBC Emerging Artist People’s Choice Award at the Gardiner Museum in Toronto, and received a BC Arts Council Individual Art Award to complete her series “Smoked”. Her work has been shown and collected across Canada, the USA, and overseas.

Her line of functional porcelain pottery has a sculptural emphasis on form, with soft matte glazes that feel like skin, fired in an electric kiln. Her earthenware pieces—functional or sculptural—are coated with terra sigillata (fine clay particles) and fired in a sawdust kiln to create smoked surfaces. Her artistic vision derives from the natural world, and the place of human culture within it.


Continue reading...