Lyttelton-based ceramic sculptor Cheryl Lucas was raised on a true kiwi farm in Central Otago. This gave her a love of the land and many of the practical skills that she still applies every day in her artistic practice.
Following the Canterbury earthquakes and the loss of so much architectural heritage, Lucas was commissioned to recreate chimney pots, finials, relief tiles and bricks for private and public heritage buildings throughout the city.
Because these pieces were faithful reproductions of the colonial era originals and all rather English looking, Lucas was inspired to create something more authentically New Zealand and aligned with our modernist aesthetic. Green Flues (2017), exhibited at Tai Tapu Sculpture Garden's March 2018 show, take their form and colour from the Nikau palm. The cut outs and surrounding score marks mean it’s possible to read the pattern illusion in two ways. The title is also a play on green.
Lucas gained her diploma in fine and applied arts from the Otago Polytechnic School of Art, Dunedin, and a certificate in advanced printmaking at Wimbledon College of Art in London. She tutored in drawing and ceramics, and was on the academic staff at Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology (CPIT), (now Ara) from 1988 to 2005, and has been working full time in ceramics since then.
Despite her rural upbringing, for many years Lucas has been quietly and creatively questioning the nature of intensive farming practices and what might be left of the land at the end of it all.
In sometimes abstract forms she evokes stock and drenches, rabbits, rifles, mud and fences. Her sculptural forms ignore rigid craft-art boundaries, and her finishes and decorative details often reflect elements drawn from her lithographic and drawing backgrounds.