Sunday, March 3, 2013

Meet Ceramicist Fahmeeda Omar

In Fahmeeda's words: 

" I was born in Pietermaritzburg.
I was introduced to 2D art (drawing and painting) in Primary School but only took a serious interest Fine Arts at the end of High School. After matriculating in 2001 from Pietermaritzburg Girls’ High, I studied Travel and Tourism at Damelin in Pietermaritzburg and I graduated in 2002. After working for a year I wanted to study Marketing and at the end of 2003 I went to study for a BA VA degree at UKZN (then UNP) to do digital art and computer graphics, but instead ended up doing ceramics as a major, and then my Masters.
Under the intuitive leadership of the late Professor Juliet Armstrong and Professor Ian Calder I finally found my niche. I must admit though I haven’t looked back with any regrets. Not only have they both been a source of inspiration to me but it is through their guidance and encouragement that I believe that I have reached the level that I have today. My parents were also very supportive of my decision to do art and very proud of my achievements so far.
I found that I really love working with my hands, a trait which I believe I inherited from my father who is a carpenter.
I started playing around with porcelain at the end of my 3rd year just to get the feel for it. At first I found the medium tricky to work with as it’s not the same as working with the normal stoneware clay. However once I got used to it I haven’t looked back. It is a beautiful medium to work with. After experimenting with some forms and colours I decided that this is the medium for me. I loved its whiteness and when thinly pottered its translucency which is achieved when high fired, and so in my Honours and Masters years I used porcelain as my main medium.
I loved working with this clay medium and especially liked the coloured glazes that I could achieve on the white porcelain body. It was at the end of my Honours year that I found a way to work with the porcelain which allowed me to use the clay body in such a way where I added colour to my porcelain body, and then coiled with it. I found that this method really worked for me. Granted I had a few failures at the beginning but I do love a challenge. I was able to roll out thin individual coils which were joined together to form the vessels you see.
When people look at my vessels they think I used a machine to roll out my coils but are fascinated when I or Juliet enlightened them that each and every coil is rolled out by hand. Each piece can take anything from three hours to seven hours depending on the size and number of colours used. A factor that plays a part in making these pieces is the weather - if it’s a hot day I have to try and work fast, because the coils are so thin they dry out almost instantly. I believe that this project has instilled in me great deal of patience.
I did not want a conventional shape, rather I prefer that the form takes shape as I go, it gives my pieces a more organic and natural form. This also means that no two vessels are ever exactly the same.
These vessels were part of my Masters’ exhibition works.
There are three examples of my Masters’ work in the Tatham Art Gallery collection in Pietermaritzburg and several examples of my Honours and Masters works can also be found in the William Humphreys Art Gallery collection in Kimberley. I also have pieces is many private collections here and abroad.
I have taken part in several group exhibitions over the years the most recent was at UKZN Jack Heath Gallery in honour of the late Professor Juliet Armstrong. She was not just my lecturer and mentor for several years but also a treasured friend. Her students always came first; it was through her that we were introduced to some of South Africa’s leading ceramic artists like David Walters, Ian Garrett, Digby Hoets and Sarah Walters, to name but few”.