Veronica Cay

portraits from an ordinary life

February 25 - March 11 2017

Art, like life, is an undulating dance alternately radiant in possibilities, shadowed with limitations and then bright with resolution. A visceral understanding of such permeates Veronica Cay's ceramic sculptures, collaged works and drawings which she describes as vehicles to encourage a reflection upon the human condition. "Manifesting the struggle in their making, the imagery can be complex and sometimes appear unresolved but this is purposeful as my intention is to express what it is to be human with all our frailties evident," she offers. This sensibility was recently recognised with a successful exhibition in Berlin's renowned August Strasse gallery district, as well as an invitation to present a course in Mexico City late last year.

"The characters that populate my work all commence during life drawing sessions," says Cay. "About 5 years ago I joined a weekly, community-based life drawing group and it has become crucial to my art making. Time in the drawing studio slows, allowing space for gentle observations and connections to be made. It becomes a journeying through the human landscape."

"I am not particularly interested in an academic transcription," she continues. "The drawings that I love describe a feeling, evoke a response or excite the imagination. I want there to be a conversation about what is happening below the surface (real or imagined) - the body experienced from within. To quote Robert Malbert: there are things that can be said about the human condition in a drawing that cannot be expressed in any other way."

"Currently I am developing a group of experimental sculptures conceived directly from the drawings in an attempt to capture some of their energy and dynamics. Along with sgraffito markings, I have started to draw directly onto the raw clay with conte crayon in a hope that it will survive the subsequent kiln firing. The latest group of sculptures also acknowledges my textile/embroidery background. The combination of textile practices such as wrapping, collaging and stitching into the clay lends extra richness and variety to the surface."

"In both the works on paper and the ceramic sculptures, the layering of marks and materials is a way invoking presence, while an absence, or loss of being, is suggested through effacing the surface. The layering, tearing away pieces and stitching them back together is representative of the complexities of the individual."

Cay's multi-media practice wryly engages with the contradictions inherent in contemporary life, nudging at its cultural and aesthetic assumptions. The ceramic Woman as Chair series exemplifies her interest in narrative and the disruption of it so that new, unexpected readings might arise. Stemming from life drawing, these works are "a marrying of model and chair". Cay suggests the pieces may represent the anonymity of a woman as she ages or perhaps more affirmatively, being enveloped in the arms of maternal love."

Waiting for the bodger - reupholstery required is a small sculpture invested with humorous anomaly. Is it the chair or its disconsolate occupant awaiting a "makeover'? The work also references how the use of language can change over time. Originally the bodger was a highly skilled craftsman hired to restore valuable furniture items. Nowadays, a ‘bodgy job' tag means completely the opposite.

"I prefer not be didactic as to specific meanings," concludes Cay. "The viewer's own perceptions and life experience will give rise to varying interpretations."


Veronica Cay holds an Associate Degree Multi Media, Charles Sturt University 2002; a Graduate Certificate Special Education, Flinders University 2000; a Bachelor of Arts (Art and Architectural History), Deakin University 1992 and an Associate Diploma Visual Arts (Textiles), Brisbane CAE 1983. She has been a Finalist in a great number of national art prizes which include: Jacaranda Aquisitive Drawing Award, Grafton Regional Gallery 2016; Lethbridge 10,000 Small Scale Art Awardb Brisbane 2015, 2013, 2012; Moreton Bay 2D Art Prize 2015, 2013, 2012, 2011; Moreton Bay 3D Art Prize 2014, 2012, 2011; Gold Coast International Ceramic Award 2014; Ignition Ceramic Award, Sunshine Coast QLD 2014, 2011; Kenilworth Art Prize 2013; Wilson Art Prize, Lismore 2013; Xstrata Portrait Prize, Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, Townsville 2012; Wangaratta Petite Textile Exhibition 2012, 2011; ArtFelt Art Prize Ballina 2012; ‘Dare to do Square' Pine Rivers Regional Gallery, Brisbane 2012; Gold Coast Art Prize 2011; Waterhouse Art Prize, Museum of South Australia (Highly Commended and touring to National Archives Museum Canberra) 2011; Prometheus Art Award 2011; Toorak Village Sculpture Award 2011; Noosa Travelling Scholarship Sculpture Award 2011. Her works have been collected by the Siena Institute of Art, Italy.

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