Self-described “compulsive clay-worker”, Hennie Meyer has exhibited prolifically around the world and is one of South Africa’s most experimental and influential ceramic artists. He spent his childhood years in KwaZulu-Natal and has trained both in Australia and South Africa, developing a practice of warm earthenware and new-skin glazes. Untitled and without the promise of function, the artist’s recent experimental series is a city of things to do with one’s hands: each earthenware form is exactly 400g. This is the defining parameter – beyond it, the scope extends anywhere. This body of work emerges as a meditation on the limits of things, and the limits as a frame for invention. The material rule-set of weight, glaze and medium permits an imaginative expansion through the 400g cubic edge. Repeated and repeated, the white cube stretches into the form that rises: a re-dreamed chess set, a specimen of sorts, a curious piece of white liquorice. These artworks are a nod towards the shared material origins of all things. Granted the same starting point, each form held up on the same ceramic plinth, a materially situated equality is imaged. But equality is not sameness. In a career-defining concern for the role of the individual in the collective, this 400g series both echoes and stands in contrast to Meyer’s previous work, the functional and installation-based.
Born in Cape Town (1965), Meyer has been working with clay since the 1980s after graduating with a Certificate of Applied Art in Ceramics (1984) and a BEd in Arts (1989) from the University of Stellenbosch. Meyer’s clayworks have been exhibited in South Africa, Europe, the United Kingdom and Asia. He is featured in numerous publications and was awarded a medal at the Fifth World Ceramic Biennale in Korea. Meyer has participated in Ceramic Art London for seven consecutive years and his works can be found in numerous private and public collections, notably those of the Iziko Museums of Cape Town, the Sasol Museum in Stellenbosch and the Durbanville Clay Museum. He is a member of the International Academy of Ceramics and a fellow of Ceramics South Africa.
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“The other day, a friend of mine said ‘aren’t you scared that you will run out of ideas?,’ and I said ‘never.’ This body of work is a celebration of individuality. Like a library, which is just many versions of 26 letters.”- Hennie Meyer
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