Sacred Sculpture :: Artist - Narelle Nicholls

About the Work

I make dwelling places for Spirit. More often than not, they take the form of our human ancestors. Othertimes, they will have the shape of an animal or a being from a different dimension.

The spirit who intends to live in the piece has very good reasons for choosing the final appearance of its home, and I need to park my ego or ideas at the studio door. Generally, but not always, I'm given an overall concept of what I'm about to make. Sometimes I might need reference material to make sense of the vision or for teasing out the details; mostly I work in the moment with my hands in the clay waiting to receive guidance.

I work solely in clay, and I love the feel of my hands in it. I also find that the elements and processes inherent in my work take me deeper into the interconnectedness of all things.

Clay comes from the earth upon which we walk, made soft and yielding and impressionable with water, and strong with silica.

The same elements that are found in our own bodies, in our plants and animals, and in our landscape.

The clay is coiled and shaped and smoothed. Once the piece is made, the same air that sustains life on our planet is needed to dry the clay out completely; then it is hardened by fire.

And just like us, clay holds memories, so it is vital that I empty myself of my human emotions before I touch the piece. I need to be as clear a channel as I'm capable of being. I work in silence. I pray. I meditate. I humbly ask for help to create the exact home each spirit wants.

I work slowly and with great intensity. Each piece takes me many hours. Not until I open the kiln door after the firing has ended do I know who has survived the long journey.

Those who have, now enter their final stages. They are painted. Some are waxed as well. Maybe I add feathers or crystals. I follow the same process here as before - I do whatever I'm directed.

Then these spirit healers are ready to begin their work in this world.

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