Annette Bukovinsky is a Danish Ceramicist, living in Australia. She grew up living on the fringe of Sydney and the neighbouring bushland became her much-cherished playground. Her love for the outdoors and bushland remains, and the inspiration it provides both artistically and soulfully is priceless. Annette's practice largely centres on investigating humanity's relationship with nature. Through her sculptures, she searches for a new ecological philosophy that can address the challenges that threaten the vitality of our planet.
What is your background? How did you start working with ceramics?
I have an art and interior design background and have pursued both of these interests academically and vocationally over the years but now I am solely devoted to my art practice. I have always had an affinity for working with clay and was introduced to hand-building in my early teens. Clay is a very tactile medium and working with it can be labour intensive, however, I think these are the qualities that make it so desirable. The sensory experience of working with clay, essentially a product of the earth, allows me to process thoughts and feelings about the planet we live on. Also, by utilising traditional hand-building techniques of coiling, pinching and moulding I am able to have a direct and protracted engagement with the clay enabling a more considered articulation of thoughts and ideas. I think the artworks that result from this way of working sometimes capture more emotion than my words could adequately express. On reflection, I’ve been drawn to ceramics for many years because I believe it has the sensory capacity to consolidate feelings, stimulate ideas and potentially encourage conversations about ways of being in the world.
You explore themes of nature – particularly humanity’s relationship with it and the challenges and threats to the vitality of the planet. Can you tell us more?
I’m very concerned that nature, across most of the globe, has now been significantly compromised by multiple human drivers. Scientists tells us that ecosystems and bio-diversities are in rapid decline. They also report that the quality of air and water have been drastically impaired and the climatic systems of the planet have been negatively altered. I find it incredibly troubling that, of the billions of species that live on the planet, only one species (ours) is responsible for this alarming devastation. That said, I am also encouraged that scientists believe some of this destruction can be alleviated if we make changes to our ‘business as usual’ ideologies. This will, of course, involve social and economic commitment and liberal amounts of political will! Making a better world is going to requires determination and imagination and I guess this is where I locate my practice. Art can offer us an understanding of ourselves. It can enable us to be reflective - to understand ourselves both morally and intellectually and bring us back into balance. I am determined to make work in the hope that it contributes to this dialogue and encourages us all to maintain a healthier relationship with nature.
How do you develop your ideas and what’s your process of working?
My ideas come from all manner of stimulus – something I’ve seen or read or heard or felt. I think for many artists, myself included, our senses are continuously activated by so many things. Given enough time and space to develop, this stimulus turns into ideas and these ideas sometimes end up as artworks. For me, the process is about prioritising time to let all of this happen.
Where do you work from? How do you like to work?
I am really fortunate that my studio is located on our property. This has been incredibly valuable during this devastating pandemic because it has allowed me to keep working whilst self-isolating. I guess working in self-isolation feels familiar and provides an opportunity to distil the concerns I have and work through those concerns materially. It is reported that the artist Louise Bourgeois said ‘Solitude, even prolonged solitude, can only be of very great benefit’... I concur with her on that!
You have just finished your Master of Fine Art degree – what’s next?
Yes, I’ve just finished my MFA at the National Art School in Sydney and it was such a valuable experience. It was a great opportunity to dissect my practice, understand what underpins it and contextualise it via analytical research and a written dissertation. That said, I am now relishing in the ‘hands-on’ part of my practice! So many creative ideas bubbled to the surface during my studies and I’m only now enjoying time to explore these ideas further. No more study for a while.