THE FUTURE IS FEMALE | ALANA WILSON

Alana Wilson ceramics

At first sight, Alana Wilson’s vases, jugs and chalices look about 3,000 years old. Inspired by Neolithic Japanese, Cycladic and African traditions, her ceramics have the pockmarked surface of bleached-out brain coral and the faint hue of artifacts that have been buried in the ground for millennia. The Australian artist, who works in a small studio outside Sydney overlooking Tamarama beach, near the famous swells of Bondi, achieves this distinctive look with a mixture of modern and ancient methods. She eschews an electric potter’s wheel for the “coiling” method, an antediluvian technique in which small bands of clay are slowly stacked on top of one another to create a shape. Wilson then coats them, rather unorthodoxly, with an arsenal of naturally toxic chemicals — lithium, barium and silicon carbide — that slowly eat away at the special kind of terracotta clay she employs; and bits of paper embedded in the material burn during the firing process, creating her work’s signature porosity. “I’ve been experimenting with sea salt recently,” says the 28-year-old mischievously. “It melts and practically destroys everything it touches which I quite like.”

from the NYT