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Architectural Ceramics by Jane McKenzie

Studio Visit

Architect Le Corbusier argued that ‘architecture is the learned game, correct and magnificent, of forms assembled in the light.’ This influence of geometry, space, and order is evident in the work of Jane McKenzie, an NSW-based artist who has recently returned to the studio, after a 20-year career as an architect.

Our love of Jane’s work is well known (she was a favourite in the TDF 2017 Open House line-up!), and here she chats with us about her architectural training, returning to study, and the beauty she finds in a large slab of clay!

1st May, 2018

Ceramics by Jane McKenzie. Photo – Jacqui Turk.

A connection to the materiality of the clay is important to the ceramicist, and her slab roller is her favourite piece of equipment. Photo – Jacqui Turk.

The artworks play with depth, space and light. Photo – Jacqui Turk.

From Jane’s studio inspiration board. Photo – Jacqui Turk.

Studio details. Photo – Jacqui Turk.

Jane’s pieces have distinctive formal qualities, and repeat geometric patterns to create innovative forms and intriguing shadows. Photo – Jacqui Turk.

Artwork sketches in progress. Photo – Jacqui Turk.

Artwork sketches in progress. Photo – Jacqui Turk.

Jane’s pieces have distinctive formal qualities, and repeat geometric patterns to create innovative forms and intriguing shadows. Photo – Jacqui Turk.

Lucy Feagins
Tuesday 1st May 2018

‘I loved the tactility and malleability of clay, and the three-dimensional aspect suddenly made sense for me.’ – Jane McKenzie.

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.

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net