Studio Sixty Six

A Dangerous Beauty | By Charles Enman If Susan Roston hopes to capture ‘life’ in her ceramic sculptures, her aim seems to have...

Posted on December 12, 2015

A Dangerous Beauty | By Charles Enman

If Susan Roston hopes to capture ‘life’ in her ceramic sculptures, her aim seems to have found its target.

Her latest work—on display until December 20th at Studio66 at 66 Muriel Street—concentrates on recreations of beautiful and delicate sea anemones. They are almost too delicate to contain in something as solid and ungiving as ceramic, yet Roston somehow conveys a sense of flowing life in flowing water.

The subject comes naturally to her. “I love sea anemones,” she says. “I love their physical beauty, their graceful quality, their fascinating tactile aspect—but there’s also something more complicated about them. When you see them moving, you realize they’re not just beautiful; they eat things; in their own way, they are dangerous.”

She fell in love with sea anemones when she was child, passing the occasional week on the beaches of Florida.

The works on show are the product of many months of experimentation.

“I had to focus and go inside myself,” she recalls. “It took a while to get my direction—and I still feel directions that I might have taken.” She’s gratified though that so many pieces have sold.

She finds the public’s response gratifying but you won’t easily hear Roston describing herself as an ‘artist.’

“No, I’m not quite ready to say that of myself,” she says. “In fact, I was afraid that I was going to be sick at the vernissage.”

Not that having a sense of arrival as an artist would necessarily be good: “You have to stay humble to grow, to be open to new things.” That attitude was partly conveyed to her by her late mentor, the ceramic artist Jim Thomson, who saw the ripening of an artistic career as a movement towards letting go. “You spend all this time figuring things out,” Thomson once said. “Gradually a freedom comes. You trust in the raw material, you recognize the bigger picture—and you respond to where you are and find the language to express it.”

That seems to be Roston’s current route.

Each piece was done individually. “They all came out one by one,” Roston says. “There was no multitasking at all, no assembly line.” With many of the pieces featuring delicate, easily broken tentacles (“… those tentacles give a sense of movement—I hate work that just sits there and stares at you…”), she often had several goes before a given piece was completed, an inconvenience easily justified by the results.

Though Roston is focused on self-expression, every artist wants an audience. And her show contains that whiff of scandal that’s sure to attract crowds—namely, her low-for-the-moment prices. Some pieces can be had for a mere $95, though others, at the high end, are marked at $390. “We can’t expect to see [these prices] for long,” says gallery owner Carrie Colton. “Not the way this woman’s work rocks.”

Susan Roston’s exhibition, ACTINIARIA will be on view until December 21st at Studio Sixty Six!

About

Studio Sixty Six is an emerging artist gallery located at 858 Bank Street, Suite 101, in the Glebe. This is our official blog, where we share what's happening at the gallery, as well as in the broader fine art and design communities of Ottawa.

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