Artist Sharon Brill captures the sensual nature of the sea and the dynamic energy of water in motion in her series of ceramic sculptures that play with the forms and structures found in reefs and mullocks.
X-RAY MAG: Tell us about your background and how you developed your artistic process in connection with themes of the sea or the underwater world.
SB: Ever since I can remember, the sea has been an integral part of my life. Born in Israel, in a northern coastal town by the sea, I often go to the beach for a swim or a stroll and take in its natural beauty. The composition of the light, the air, the water and the sand, the shapes, textures and colors, the softness and the intensity have always been a source of inspiration for the vision reflected in my work.
The sculptures I create in porcelain today are the result of an accident that happened to me in the past when I was working on another project. I was working for long hours on a new project that suddenly collapsed as I was working. Not following my normal habit of throwing the ruins away to the slurry bucket, I decided to put it off to the side covered in a plastic bag and place it on the shelf.
After few days, I opened the plastic bag and looked again at those ruins, and I was curious about what I saw there. So I began to turn it around, dig in, open the layers, and carve inside, and so from this the whole series developed. At the end of this process when I looked at the first few works, they reminded me of the shells and parts of the reefs that are left on the sand after the tides that are so well known to me from my long walks on the beach everyday.
X-RAY MAG: What about the ocean and its creatures inspires you?
SB: My inspiration comes from many things that I absorb with all my senses: the changing light that creates different shades in the sand, water and vegetation, the unique textures and shapes of the reefs and shells, the sound and appearance of the waves that change by the day and hour, and the foam on the waves. By being on the beach, swimming and strolling, I feel that my senses are all active and working together, which appears later in my works.
X-RAY MAG: What is your artistic mission or vision?
SB: My work is created out of an internal drive, as if emerging out of itself. What intrigues me is how I merge myself with the object, how I steep myself in the process to create spontaneously and intuitively, opening the layers, in search of what lies behind the overt, what is hidden within…
The concept of my works exists in the integration of two poles: aspiration for meticulous and restrained aesthetics on the one hand, and unrestricted spontaneous and intuitive search on the other.
X-RAY MAG: Are you a scuba diver or if not, how do you interact with the underwater realm?
SB: I am not a scuba diver but I live in a small coastal town, and so I start my day, year round, by swimming in the sea and walking along the shore. Even when I meet with family or friends, it is almost always on the beach. The sea is where I will always go when I need some peace of mind.
X-RAY MAG: What are your favorite locations and underwater subjects?
SB: The shore that I live by is my favorite place to go. I like its natural look, which is for now still safe from urbanization. I enjoy sitting on top of the sand dunes that face the sea or on the rocky hills that go into the sea itself. I look at the textures the wind creates in the sand or the waves crashing on the rocks and the large view of the sea that stretches far beyond the horizon. I love swimming in the small lagoons those rocky hills create.
X-RAY MAG: Tell us about your ceramic sculptures. How are they made and how is your method unique?
SB: The artworks created are abstract organic sculptural shapes. Their scale varies, and some can be held in your hand and observed from any angle. The lines and movement lead the eye around the shape, into it and all through it.
The forms are wheel thrown or slab-constructed, altered porcelain, fired to 1,260°C (2,232°F). The porcelain remains bare. The works are sanded with various grades of sandpaper, from rough to smooth, before and after being fired.
X-RAY MAG: How does your art work or artistic mission relate to conservation or environmental issues regarding our oceans and reefs?
SB: The sea is very close to my heart. It is, and will always be, a part of me. My work comes from inside me and is intuitive. The town I live in is rapidly growing in construction and population, which is threatening to reach and ruin the shore. However, the building hasn’t reached the shore yet or harmed it, and I am full of hope that it will remain this way.
X-RAY MAG: Why art? Tell us why you think art is important?
SB: Art is a strong passion that comes from within me, is stronger than me and needs to be expressed. I cannot see myself doing anything else. It took me many years of searching (within the art field) until I found the exact place for me to express myself in the arts. It comes with many difficulties, frustrations and challenges, but art for me feels like home. Sculpting in porcelain is my desire, and I feel glad and fortunate that this is what I do in my life.
X-RAY MAG: What are the challenges and benefits of being an artist today?
SB: As I said before, art is a passion and a certain need that cannot be held back unexpressed, though it’s not realistic financially most of the time. Being a mother and raising two kids (16 and 11) is another challenge, trying to be committed both to my family and my art, yet it is a challenge I would never give up on.
Even though my inspiration comes from the sea, its elements and its textures, I always enjoy seeing how different people react differently to the sculptures and how each one of the sculptures reflects the viewer’s own inner world in different ways. I think this is one of the greatest things about art! I always feel great satisfaction from the responses. ■
For more information and to view more of Sharon Brill’s art works, you can find her on Facebook or go to her website at: www.sharonbrill.com
The sea is very close to my heart. It is, and will always be, a part of me.
-- Sharon Brill