Clay as spiritual medium

“I just have to touch the earth and I touch myself”

William Ricketts  (1898-1993)


On my trip to Melbourne, Australia earlier this month, I took advantage of the city’s wonderful art offerings. However, it wasn’t until I stumbled upon a little known artist sanctuary tucked away in the rainforest outside of Melbourne that I had  a truly moving art experience.

The William Ricketts Sanctuary pays homage to an exceptionally spiritual ceramic artist whose every living breath was dedicated to imparting his own awakening about the indivisible bond between “every atom” of every living creature and Man, God, and Mother Earth. Inspired by his years of contact with native Aboriginal peoples, Australian artist William Ricketts’ clay sculptures and writings convey his unshakable belief in the oneness of Nature and the sanctity of the environment. He was an undisputed pioneer of the environmentalist movement.

Option One

The documentary video which was playing in the visitors’ center portrayed an eccentric recluse, a man driven by his vision, barely able to contain his zeal. ” Why shouldn’t I use clay when my love was opened up to the earth and the clay to express the earth and all wild life…My spirit is the spirit of the land, the essence of God.” Ricketts seamlessly incorporated his clay sculptures into the natural environment, making them appear to sprout from the very rocks and trees he revered.

Option 2

I am of the Earth

I am a son of the Earth

I am the trees, the rivers, the rock

I am kin to the earth’s creatures

I am kin to the earth’s creations

The earth is my mother

The white man is also of the earth

But he is mad

For what man in his right mind

Would rape his own Mother

Inscription on William Ricketts sculpture by

Wandjuk Marika, Aboriginal elder, composer, activist

Option Four

Ricketts’ lifelong dedication to his work in the name of a Higher Calling and his visionary mission to protect the environment made me feel a teensy bit intimidated and somewhat of a lightweight. But when I returned home from my trip, a complimentary copy of Lark Crafts’ 500 Prints on Clay was waiting for me, with one of my works right there on page 236 (!) included in the top 500 contemporary international ceramic artists using print medium on clay.

It was a reminder to me that every artist’s ultimate aspiration should be to follow his or her own path in the most truthful way possible.

Photographs courtesy of the Alan Merbaum.

Riddle of the day: How can you be up when you’re down?

Another trip to Melbourne, Australia just reinforced how exciting, cultured and cosmopolitan the city has become. And obviously the word is out because my sources tell me that 2000 people move to Melbourne every week. With the city so much in demand there seems little prospect  that the cost of living will drop anytime soon – I believe it is currently rated as the third most expensive city in the world!

I went to check out the the National Gallery of Victoria and was met by a giant rabbit. Sigh…the contemporary art world pulls the wool over our eyes once again. At least it should have been a kangaroo! The gallery was

National Gallery of Victoria

holding some impressive exhibitions, my favorite being The Naked Face, a collection of self-portraits taking us on a  ‘journey through the history of the human face.’ I attended a fascinating symposium on the subject which featured presentations by participating artists, and a range of lectures by professors in multi-disciplinary fields. Recognize the portrait below…??

In the picture....

I also visited a drawing session with a live model in my role as feature columnist for The Great It has been quite a while since I drew from the model and it was an uplifting experience. Note to self: more of the same!

Drawing session in progress

                                    But it wasn’t all art, art, art. I also checked out the local food markets, hung out at a street festival, biked along the beach, had the best coffee in the Southern Hemisphere and did yoga with my niece and nephew!

                Answer to the riddle : When you’re Down Under 🙂