In 2017 I was the international Artist-In-Residence at the Benyamini Contemporary Ceramics Center in Tel Aviv, Israel where I spent days exploring ancient sites, towns and landscapes from the Northern borders of Lebanon and Syria, from the Golan Heights to the Sea of Galilee – and down to the Negev Dessert in the south.
The aim of the residency was to explore Israel as an ancient land (resonating with the historic Holy Land of the Bible) and my own connection to the Australian landscape (as a spiritual experience). The resulting work was presented in the solo exhibition, Country - ancient lands, in 2018 at Sturt Gallery.
As part of the residency I collected clays and soils from specific sites that generated (for me) history, stories, and religious and spiritual narratives. I tested these materials for colour and effect, and incorporated them into my porcelain structures. The resulting colours turned out to be very different from those of Australian clays and soils.
My research also focused on the enclosed cube form- likened to cultural building blocks. Hollow, not solid, containing spaces that are physically and visually inaccessible. Whereas the outside surfaces of the form became highly narrative, enabling me to infer internal and external complexities.
As Dr Julie Bartholomew said of the work in her opening talk of Country – ancient lands,
“…. these inaccessible interiors are akin to the nature of memory. Memories are not recordings stored as discrete wholes. Memories are fleeting reconstructions of experience, and in this instance, Avi's connection to Israel's ancient lands. Like the undisclosed space within these enclosed forms, original experience can never be accessed or recreated.
On the Other hand, outside surfaces are physical records of place, richly embellished with extension describing local exotic vegetation, stamped motifs, sands and clays collected in Israel.”