about the artist.
I am Darlene Pratt. Film maker, construction worker, cabinet maker, heavy equipment operator, boat builder, airplane fuselage laminator, marketing communications professional, English teacher, arts administrator, pizza maker, and artist - my path has been weird and wonderful. The twists and turns I've taken have been valuable learning experiences that have brought me to the current iteration of myself as a professional ceramic artist.
Since childhood I have been captivated by human ingenuity and fascinated with building materials and tools. From 2005-2020, I traded my clay hobby for time helping build and manage Clayworx (formerly London Clay Art Centre) in my home city of London, Ontario. My passion for working with clay was reignited during the pandemic of 2020-22 when I applied for and was chosen to participate in a creative mentorship. The experience proved to be life-changing, compelling exploration of conceptual sculptural forms and a new career path as a professional artist.
I believe ceramics is the world’s most complex art form, demanding seamless integration of the hands, heart, and mind. It can be both devastating and deeply gratifying. The challenges and infinite possibilities keep me excited for what will emerge from the next kiln load!
Inspired by architecture, electron microscopy, insects, succulents, and sea creatures I weave into my ceramic work the principles of design and engineering I observe in both human made and natural structures. My organic forms are in a state of tension with the mechanical textures I stamp into the clay and the colours that lay beneath and peek around the edges of the lichen glaze. My work feels simultaneously familiar and alien. The highly-textured surfaces elicit curiosity and invite intimate examination, visually and through touch. Animalian, yet reminiscent of plants, and of fossils, my pieces could be objects of the past, present, or future.
I won Best Sculptural and People's Choice awards at the 2022 Fusion Show in Toronto, Ontario. I have exhibited at the Carnegie Gallery, Thames Art Gallery, Art Gallery of Burlington, and the Rails End Gallery. My piece called Same Difference was one of 100 pieces accepted into the second annual 100 Kellogg Art Comp in 2023. You can purchase select pieces of my work at the Gardiner Museum Shop in Toronto and Gallery House SKWIRL in Bayfield. I am currently creating work for a September 2024 show at the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery in Waterloo, Ontario.
In addition to rudimentary sketches, I tend to play with pieces I have sitting around my studio, stacking them on top of one another, taking photographs on my phone and staring at them over the course of days or weeks to further develop a final concept.
My pieces are hand built using rigid cardboard molds to create the base shapes and appendages, such as the feet, the fins, and the petals. This technique allows me to incorporate texture on all surfaces, which adds to their organic quality. I use a series of rollers and stamps, some made by me using clay or PVC pipe and hot glue, and others that are found objects with patterns I find intriguing. I texturize large slabs of medium-soft clay before laying them into the mold, then I carefully stretch them using a flexible rubber rib or a moist sponge. This process allows me to create components with various volumes. The more complex pieces require multiple molds to create each element, and all are attached using copious slip. After the slip firms up, I gingerly carve away the hardened ooze to ensure the pieces have a seamless and organic feel.
press & exhibitions.
May 15, 2023 - "Fantastic sculptures by Andrea Vuletin and Darlene Pratt at Carnegie Gallery. Inside Out showcases creations that push the ordinary into the wonderfully fantastic." An article by Regina Haggo in the Hamilton Spectator.
CURRENT/UPCOMING EVENTS & EXHIBITIONS
You can view and purchase select pieces of my work at The Gallery House, SKWIRL Contemporary Fine Art in Bayfield, Ontario. SKWIRL is a collaborative art gallery specializing in fine art by Canadian artists working in various mediums.
PAST EVENTS & EXHIBITIONS
Bjork II was juried into the 2023 Fireworks travelling exhibition. It was on display at the Neilson Park Creative Centre and Gardiner Museum in Toronto before heading to the Art Gallery of Burlington and to Rails End Gallery in Haliburton. Held every two years, the show symbolizes the best in contemporary clay and glass by members of FUSION: Ontario Clay & Glass Association.