Focused on movement and vitality, artist Juz Kitson sculpts supple vessels that harness the lively qualities of Earth’s landscapes. Densely packed with pieces mimicking flowers, fungi, moss, coral, and other organisms, the shapely works “feel like they are pulsating, giving inanimate material a spark of life,” Kitson tells Colossal. Medium and subject matter both nod to the natural process of regeneration and rebirth, with the “malleable, composite of Earth, water, and fire inherently (carrying) the imprint of memory.”
After many years of an itinerant practice that allowed her to travel frequently, Kitson settled in Milton, New South Wales, at the beginning of the pandemic. Given mass uncertainty and closed borders, she simultaneously had to shutter the studio she occupied for nearly a decade in Jingdezhen, China. Much of her work reflects a mélange of these two environments.
Often sculpted from Jingdezhen porcelain, the vessels are topographic and evoke the rugged coastlines and bush of the artist’s native Australia alongside the mountains and lush jungles of East Asia. “I have a deep fascination and attention to detail, constantly observing, exploring, walking through landscapes and creating visual mind maps of surfaces, layers, crevices, and abundant metamorphic forms that will later feed into the works I make,” she says.
Often monochromatic, many of the sculptures are glazed in a clear coat, blush, or black. The latter, especially on Kitson’s urn-like vessels, directly connects to the charred remains of Australia’s bush following the disastrous fires of 2019. At the time, the artist had just purchased her house and studio, which she refused to abandon despite mass evacuations. She shares:
I had just bought my first home, and here I was, standing protecting it by drenching it with a hose, watering my house and soon-to-be studio to protect it from the flames that were only three kilometers away…(I started) a series of funerary urns as a lament for the summer wildfires that devastated the landscape and has seen a region still mourning the loss of vegetation, homes, animals, and lives lost in which the pandemic overshadowed.
If you’re in Australia, there are several opportunities to view Kitson’s works in person, including a July solo exhibition at Sophie Gannon Gallery in Richmond, Victoria, and group shows at Craft Victoria opening in May, Hazelhurst Arts Centre in July, and Sydney Contemporary Art Fair in September. You can also find more on her site and Instagram.
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