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Lemah Orya

St Marys Senior High School



Epoxy clay on Afghan ceramics

My body of work represents the process of restoration occurring in my homeland of Afghanistan. Just as nature can flourish and overcome the destruction caused by war, wild flora and mushrooms emerge from within the cracks of each broken ceramic. In the Japanese Kintsugi technique of mending broken things with gold, the cicatrix of each piece becomes a thing of beauty. I was inspired by Frida Kahlo's own exploration of her cultural heritage, my work embodying the hope that one day Afghanistan will regain its rich culture. As humans, it is inevitable that we encounter adversity. However, through this we can find a new form of beauty and healing.

My artmaking practice has been influenced by the study and interpretation of the following artists: PetitPlat, Frida Kahlo, Alisa LiskaFlower, MP Gautheron.

Marker's Commentary

Seven elegant ceramic bowls, a teapot and cup have been chosen for their varying forms and Afghani cultural heritage. Each pot has its own beauty, story and history and features a break or fracture that has been repaired using ribbons of gold lacquer in the Kintsugi style. The breaks read as wounds, leaving a resultant scar, which has been embellished with delicately modelled fungi and miniscule spores, sprouting from their line of breakage. Ubiquitous by nature, they colonise, survive and multiply in their diverse habitat. Some congregate like barnacles, others shoot up with spindly stalks, searching for light and air.

There is precision, an eye for detail and complexity in the intricate construction and surface treatment. The selection and application of colours for the fungi is delicate, controlled and dusted with a patina of gold. This visually connects to the gold lines that track across each object in irregular map-like patterns formed through the apparent randomness of the break. The philosophy behind the cracks is to recognise the object’s history, enhancing the appearance and making it more beautiful than the original.

This is a charming and poetic work. Emphasis is placed on the identified imperfections being precious scars. Cultural renewal, resilience and hope is symbolised through the massed fungi, which are the underground support system for flora. This reinforces the value of cultural objects and protection of cultural heritage. There is a broad message of conservation in the work; that we should repair and not discard broken things. It is a metaphor for positive ways of coping with traumatic events and experiences and that such scars make each person, culture and country unique.