The announcements of survivors searching for lost relatives on Kol Israel, the national radio station was the soundtrack of my childhood, obligatory listening in every home, as if by narrating the endless list of names, the unfathomable depth of the tragedy was being unfolded.
Some of my classmates had old parents, their homes were dark and silent, friends were rarely invited. The parents didn’t talk much. Later we knew, these were their second families, the first having perished.
Sentinels bear witness. The enclosed space within the male and female vessels looking at each other encapsulates profound silence, where words cannot capture such loss and pain. Etched on their skin are marks of an ancient culture.
The scripts developed from Ketubas: one from Alexandria, Egypt, 1833, the other from Yemen 1679, and the arabesque design developed from The Lisbon Bible 1482, relate the rich diversity within Judaism where the possibility of identity, belonging and solace exists.
She has developed a unique aesthetic language – at once intimate and universal. While speaking of ancient civilizations, the idiosyncratic forms and intricate surfaces of the vessels ground her work firmly in the contemporary.
Sheffer employs hand-forming techniques along with a unique printing practice to which she brings her life experience in working with other mediums.
Her forms are contained and voluptuous, architectural and anthropomorphic, layered with details and meaning. Since 2004 Avital has been exhibiting extensively in Australia and the US. She was a finalist in numerous competitions and won several awards including the Josephine Ulrich prize for excellence at the Gold Coast international Ceramic Award in 2005 and The Border Art Prize in 2008 as well as two Australia Council Grants for New Work. Her work is represented in public collections including the National Gallery of Australia, the Sydney Powerhouse, Manly Art gallery & Museum and the Gold Coast City Art gallery, as well as corporate and private collections.
Avital Sheffer is a member of the International Academy of Ceramics.
2 ceramic sculptural vessels
56x21x15 cm & 52x31x16 cm
Courtesy the artist and Mossgreen Galleries