Art review: Barbara Sowter is “impressions”
Reviewer: Marilyn (Jenkins) Poole
The Little Gallery at Temenos, McGregor August 2002
Sensuous torsos, fragments of dreams and a concentration of peaceful energies dominate Barbara Sowter’s first solo exhibition, Impressions, running at The Little Gallery. at Temenos, McGregor, until August 31.
The works, sculpted in porcelain or stoneware, raku or sawdust fired or left unglazed, reveal the latent energy of bodies stilled into a moment of repose.
A group of meditating figures seated around a tiny raked sand garden combine conformity with individuality - one has a dropped chin, another a slightly tilted head, and their expressions roam from the ghost of a smile to the seriousness of inner reflection.
There’s peace here, and beauty: both unusual in 21st century art where angst and turmoil are the fashion. And there’s enigma, too.
The swelling breasts and abdomens of female forms are often only hinted at. One fragment of torso could also be reminiscent of an oyster mushroom, a piece of coral, or, a waistcoat with two sets of buttonholes. In another, as one looks, the nipples become eyes and the belly button becomes a mouth dimpling a fleshy face.
The male torsos, however, with strong backs and- buttocks rippling from the clay, are unequivocal in their gentle power.
One- tranquil, creamy white mask-like face bears the subtlest trace of a frown. In contrast, four sensuous African heads embody the dignity of their cultural heritage without emotional underpinning.
The viewer’s imagination is certainly given free rein in this remarkable collection from a first-time artist who probes emotional depths with beguilingly- skillful simplicity.