Jane McKenzie first encountered ceramics when in high school, after which followed ‘a hiatus of about 25 years’, before she returned to clay. After working as an architect for over twenty years, Jane followed a long-held dream to pursue her arts practice. She enrolled in a Bachelor of Fine Arts at the National Art School in Sydney, intending to major in painting, but soon realised the ceramics department was her happy place. ‘I loved the tactility and malleability of clay, and the three-dimensional aspect suddenly made sense for me’ Jane recalls. She’s been making ceramic sculptures ever since.
This connection to the materiality of the clay is important to Jane. ‘The first big investment most people working with clay usually make is a kiln or a wheel. Not me, I bought a slab roller, which rolls clay slabs of consistent thickness for me to build with. It’s a beautiful thing that gives me joy every time I use it.’
Jane’s architectural vocabulary shines through in her artworks, which play with depth, space and light. Her ceramic pieces have distinctive formal qualities, and repeat geometric patterns to create innovative forms and intriguing sites of shadow. ‘I’m interested in many different artists and architects, but it is the buildings of Le Corbusier and Louis Kahn that have the most impact on me’ the artist admits.
Spatially, Jane’s studio also influences her work. Her self-described ‘prison cell’ workplace sounds dreary (!), but the large windows make the National School of Art a special place in which to create. Into the future, Jane hopes to make a ‘site-specific big sculpture’ which ‘unlike a building, would have absolutely no function. And it would be quietly beautiful.’ This unassuming beauty will be on display at Jane’s solo show in Koskela in May.