— observations from the Blue Mountains Design Bureau —

Linda Seiffert’s ‘Undulatus’

Ceramic artist Linda Seiffert has returned from a hiatus with a sensational solo show that immerses audiences in an abstract sculptural landscape.

Seiffert’s current exhibition ‘Undulatus’ forms part of the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre Expose program, featuring undulating and sensory artworks that have been taken ‘off the plinth’ – to engage visitors spatially as more than simply a passive viewer. With names as abstract as their physical form such as ‘Primordial Hunch’ and ‘Sanguine Beginnings’ visitors are given the opportunity to freely experience and interpret the works without too much directive from the artist as to their ‘meaning’.

Working with ceramic, steel, stone and found natural materials, Seiffert has created a collection of works with a sensuality and physicality that is an exhibition not to be missed.

Amidst the bustle of the final days of ‘Undulatus’, The Cloudscape were lucky enough to catch a coffee with this generous artist, and glimpse into her creative life.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I was born in Geelong. My dad’s parents had a farm and mum’s side is a sprawling Dutch family – my Oma now 90, had 9 children, 30 grandchildren, 52 great grandchildren, & 3 great great grand children. She is my hero. I had a fun childhood. My family moved to Sydney and I grew up around Hornsby with its beautiful bush surrounds. Before I wanted to be an artist, I wanted to be a National Parks Ranger!

Tell us a little about the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre exhibition “Undulatus”

Undulatus is my 1st solo show in 13 years, my 2nd solo show ever & my 1st solo at a public art gallery. It is an attempt to re-ignite my practice after a hiatus. The show marks a significant development in my practice, technically and conceptually. I wanted to create an environment, a space to be experienced rather than an exhibition of work on plinths.

This environment mimics a landscape or a garden and explores ideas around the human relationship with the natural world and the tenuous experience of belonging and separation. The art works themselves become an ‘ecology of forms’.

There are many layers to the show and each of the works; there are pieces that please the eye and there are those that stir a curious disgust. I am excited to hear what people experience in the space and their interpretations of the works. Undulatus has been incredibly well received. Spending time in the gallery watching people engage with the work has been an enlightening experience for me.

How did you begin working with ceramics?

I started working in clay at High School. My school didn’t offer a many electives but it did offer ceramics and I gravitated towards that, I think because it involved working with my hands. I did a part time course after high school while I was attending the first year of a science degree, then I gave up Uni to study ceramics full time for 4 years.

Where do you work & how do you like to work?

I work at Cascade Artist Studios (CAS) in Lawson where I share a big shed with 3 other fabulous artists – Jaqueline Spedding, Michael Hoffman & Caitlyn Hughes. Our other studio mate Mandy Schoene-Salter is in Germany presently. In my work environment I like to feel like there’s activity going on around me, but I love a good chin wag and I talk too much when people are around so, I work best on my own.

My work involves many things going on at once. Some work is pure labour; other work is a long process of being creative – designing, engineering and problem solving. These things take a lot of concentration. I like to be as systematic and efficient as possible where I can so I can have time to play and experiment too. Though I’m embarrassed to admit, I’m a serious procrastinator!

What drives your creative direction?

I’d say a main driver is an innate creative compulsion, which is like an unconscious force, some times it feels like I am programed to create. I can’t stop thinking about ways to put things together and about the metaphysics of all things.

What advice would you give others wanting to get into your field?

I’d say start with a course in ceramics. Some, but not all art degrees offer a portion of ceramics. Or you could do a solely ceramics course at TAFE (rare now) or through community college (also rare) or a private studio. It’s a great way to jump in and get engaged with materials, skills development, process, technology, history & contemporary theory – which are all important if you are serious about being a professional (ceramic) artist. Be prepared for lots of hard work, it’s a labour intensive and time consuming craft which takes time to hone. Let yourself make mistakes and experiment, this is when you discover great things.

Be committed, prepared for as many knock backs as successes, learn from them. And above all be persistent. I am still learning all this myself.

Why do you live in the mountains?

Here I can bring up my daughter in fresh air and not pay Sydney prices. The bush and the community are the reasons. I like the feeling that I am ‘normal’ because people around me share my values. We are a creative, caring, active community who value people and nature and creative life and see these things as essential to our health and happiness.

Who or what is exciting you right now?

Plenty of people and things are exciting me right now, but I’m going to say Cascade Artist Studios. All the activity we have had producing work, exhibiting, winning prizes, opening the space to visitors, meeting people in the community who are interested in what we are doing there – what we are creating together and in our own practices is really exciting.

What are your most memorable mountainside moments?

Of course snow days are on the list! Times I’ve had with friends and family exploring and enjoying our mountains landscape.

What are your favourite things to do in the mountains?

I have to say being in the bush – walking, exploring, discovering new places, swimming in waterholes in summer.

What’s making your mouth water?

I’ve been hanging out at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre Café a lot during my exhibition and I have to say I’m really enjoying the food and coffee there. It’s seriously excellent!

Can you tell us a mountains secret?

I’m too good at keeping secrets!

Your perfect mountains weekend…

A rainy weekend at home watching movies, eating yummy food and playing Lego with my people.

Where can we find you?

You can find me at Cascade Artist Studios in Lawson most days and I’m happy to have visitors, best by appointment to make sure I’m there.

What’s next on the horizon?

I want to make time to apply for, and do a residency, and to see some new places and go adventuring again after a time of intense productivity.

See Linda’s exhibition Undulatus before it closes on August 24th, at the Blue Mountains Cultural Centre in Katoomba. If you miss the chance to see this fantastic exhibition, you can see 2 of her artworks on display at Teachers Exhibition at Kerrie Lowe Gallery Newtown, opening this Friday August 22 til September 16, 2014.

Sydney centric art & nature lovers can see a number of Seiffert’s works in Cultivate – Artisans in the Gardens, opening October 4 til October 14, 2014.


Linda Seiffert

Cascade Artist Studios

23-27 Cascade Street, Lawson NSW

WORDS & IMAGES: Ann Niddrie

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