Drawn from experience

Ri Van Veen is holder her exibition "Clay, Fire, Serendipity (solo exhibition)" at BMAC Gallery.

By Ewen McRae

It’s been a long journey for ceramic artist Ri Van Veen, and her latest exhibition is a showcase of that.

Van Veen opened her retrospective exhibition Clay Fire Serendipity last week, chronicling the past 10 years of her art as she adapted to living with chronic fatigue syndrome.

The initials of the exhibit were deliberately chosen to reflect her condition, and she said working with clay was an analogy for her own life.

“It was 16 years ago I had a virus that led to chronic fatigue syndrome, and was a really difficult time spent mostly laying down,” she said.

“After six months I had improved a little and remembered I had some clay in the shed and started playing. We became best friends.

“The thing with sculpting clay is you can only build to a certain size and then it has to rest and firm up, and I was the same.

“What started as therapeutic became my new life.”

It is now 10 years since her first solo exhibition, and the retrospective currently on show at Bacchus Marsh’s BMac Gallery shows just how far Van Veen has come.

“I’m still dealing with the roller coaster that CFS can be,” she said.

“I began a university degree on ceramic art and what would normally take three years took me nine.

“Whether experimenting, designing or allowing the clay to have its way, or accidentally stumbling upon a new concept or way of working, my art and creativity is always evolving.”

The exhibition is on display until September 15.

Details: www.bmaci.org.au/gallery.html