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April 11, 2021

Interview with Sam and Jacqui Sosnowski about their Elemental Exhibition

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Jacqui & Sam Sosnowski: Elemental Exhibition Opening

Jacqui & Sam Sosnowski: Elemental Exhibition Opening

Northern Rivers Community Gallery  |  Thursday 4 July  |  5.30–7.30pm  |  Exhibition runs until Sunday 25 August.

Creative Northern Rivers couple Sam and Jacqui Sosnowski combine their talents for an exciting exhibition of wood lithography (Mokulito) and primitive-fired (Raku) ceramic vessels called Elemental, which opens at Northern Rivers Community Gallery on 4 July.Jacqui spoke with The Echo about the upcoming art show.

Tell me about the concept for your latest exhibition.

The main concept of our Elemental exhibition has to do with serendipity and relinquishing the control of the artist in their work. How ‘happy accidents’ can be encouraged and can inform an artist’s work. We both deliberately set up situations in our respective processes that allowed creative accidents to occur. This adds a lot of excitement to us as artists, and we hope for the audience as well.

What does the title Elemental refer to?

We chose to focus on the natural world and the elements of earth, fire, water, and air. Sam’s landscapes and depictions of natural forms present the power of nature and my raku vessels also feature this elemental power on their surfaces. As well, both processes, Mokulito and Raku, are elemental and basic using wood, fire, water, and earth.

What do you love about wood lithography? In the world of digital printing, why is this sort of print-making so evocative?

After 30 years running my own graphic design studio using a computer, it’s been great slowing down into the printmaking process and getting my hands dirty. After studying a number of print processes, I find wood lithography environmentally friendly, portable, and it adds its own strong textural quality. I have recently started to combine both Mokulito and digital colouration in my work. There has been lots of discussion in recent years of digital technology somehow being a ‘cheat’ tool. Finally, the tide has turned, and people have realised it’s just another tool in the creative toolbox. At the recent Australian Print Triennial (2018) in Mildura the winner was a digital-print work on paper and polypropylene.

What is raku? Tell me about the ceramics you have made.

Raku is an ancient form of firing ceramics that usually means taking vessels from the kiln while they are red hot and then subjecting them to severe reduction (exclusion of oxygen) in a container of sawdust. They are then plunged into a bucket of water where they writhe and squirm with thermal energy. If they don’t break (which happens often) they emerge with the furious energy they have endured marked forever on their surface. I use a particular raku technique called Naked Raku, which allows the smoke from the sawdust to ‘draw’ lines on the pot – sometimes called carbon stencilling. It gives a cracked and distressed look, which makes the vessels look really ancient and works well with the forms I have chosen.

How does nature feature in your works?

Sam’s mokulito prints are all based on nature. There are lily ponds drawn on plywood ‘en plein air’ while we were in Bali, magnificent granite boulders from our trip to the Grampians and Stanthorpe as well as the the powerful Clarence River and burnt-out fig trees in our own neighbourhood. Some of my ceramics use seaweed gathered at Brunswick Heads beach to ‘mark make’ on the ferric chloride coloured vessels. And, of course, both processes use only natural materials to create the finished objects.

How does your relationship as a couple feed your work as practising artists?

We have just celebrated our 43rd wedding anniversary so I guess there’s no escaping each other now! But seriously, we’ve always been really supportive of one another’s endeavours whether in art or anything else. This is the first time I have exhibited and Sam has been so helpful regarding what to put in, what to take out, along with his support in getting the practical things like the invitations together and so on. Sam has had quite a few exhibitions over the years, and I suppose I’ve always tried to be there for him as well. I think our skills complement each other really well. And now we share a studio; there haven’t been any major fights… yet!

What should people expect for your upcoming exhibition at NRCG?

People can expect to see two completely different media that go together well. I guess it’s a little unusual but the show has a real energy and vibrancy that we both hope viewers will enjoy. Come along – we’d love to see you there!

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