zelli selected exhibition 2005 Exhibitor: Barbara Wakefield
"Mary, Mary quite contrary
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells and cockle shells
And pretty maids all in a row."
Location: Zelli Gallery, London.
Theme: Nursery Rhymes.
I became fascinated with aspects of this nursery rhyme relating to growth, natural form, symbolism and remembrance of musical parallels from childhood.
In Lucy Rollin's 'Cradle and Al: A Cultural and Psychoanalytical Reading of Nursery Rhymes' it is said that "rhymes operate symbolically", that "Mistress Mary panted her garden to help pass time until her traveling father returned".
For me, links between garden and Mother Earth, cockle shells and Sea Goddess, maids or maidens as young fruit trees, seem to convey symbols of fertility, love and womanhood.
My great enjoyment of working in the garden, following it through the seasons, nurturing plat forms gives me inspiration for my work with clay.
I have found many legends relating to special properties of shells, emerging from human culture across the world. Two especially stand out firstly from a tribe in North West America who believed that the first human was a female child born of a raven and a cockle; secondly the Greek mythological Goddess Aphrodite who was brought from her birth pace in the sea to Cypreae, in a scallop shell.
The musical aspect, elemental in many rhymes takes me back to my childhood, and in turn to when my own children were small when story tell in, nursery rhymes and music were part of everyday life. Music continues to be a source of inspiration to me and to my creativity.
This interest has lead me to evolve bell shaped, free folded porcelain forms, rims both scrolled and left open giving a sense of progression and music.
The idea of a fluid celadon glaze, pulling away from raised areas and pooling into recesses, bubbling under the intense temperatures achieved during wood firing, seemed to me to symbolize the intensity of nature in the first rush of spring.
Surfaces punctuated with cockle and scallop shells, tactile values of rough and smooth, seem to mirror the rhythms of the seasons and their capacity for renewal and reawakening.