Elizabeth Balcomb lives and sculpts at her studio-home in the mist-belt forest of Byrne Valley, Kwazulu-Natal.
I love the smell of paper clay in the kiln at 200˚C. It reminds me of lemon creams.
This is one small aspect of the picture within the landscape of ceramics within which I find myself. I could say that clay is part of my destiny… it’s tempting to see it that way. I could also say I stumbled upon it. Either way, here I am, with a new universe to explore... a fantastic adventure.
Despite my aptitude for art I chose to study nature conservation after school. Being in natural and beautiful spaces is vital to my existence. I almost studied textile design, but was afraid of the vulnerability I instinctively knew I might experience (and am experiencing!) in the art world. After getting my diploma I wandered about a bit before working for 8 years in environmental education.
DishMy partner Bobby finished building my studio 3 years ago, and since July 2009 I’ve dedicated myself to my art and have not looked back. It really has been a journey of discovery, of myself as much as much as of ceramics and the art world. Studio life suits me on a fundamental level. I love the solitude… the air that becomes thick with something almost like spirit inside the room with me… my favorite music playing. Many aspects of myself come into balance within these four walls.
Not having studied ceramics or art, I sometimes feel frustrated enough to explode. I was at the end of my tether towards the end of 2009. A lot of tears. My poor family! I took a step of faith and hauled some of my work to Sue Greenberg (Artisan Gallery, Durban). She turned out to be a guardian angel and introduced me to the KZN Ceramic Association… my path to technique and sanity! The members of the Association have changed my life. I am more able. When I’m at a workshop I feel as if I’m in a room full of doors, with doors behind doors, all waiting to be opened if I can only find the right questions to ask.
2010 was a great year for me. I had a few exhibitions and was honored to receive an award for most promising young artist at the KZN Regional Exhibition. I was thrilled to be selected for the Nationals.
This year has started with a lot of raku experimentation and a commission piece that I’m thoroughly enjoying. I need to have quick, immediately satisfying pieces as well as the more time consuming ones. I love to watch a creature come to life under my hands. The magic of raw, porous clay becoming something like a shiny jewel is something that I don’t think I’ll ever recover from.
I have been caught.