Astrid DAHL South African, b. 1977

“You’re working with a medium which unfolds organically to reveal seemingly limitless potential of form” Astrid Dahl explains in her studio in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.  Against an inspiring landscape of rolling hills, huge skies and epic sunrises she lives with her family on a smallholding finding endless connections between her surroundings and the works she creates. 

Astrid’s journey with the material began at the Technikon Natal in 1995, graduating in 1999.  Her then ceramics lecturer was and continues to be a major influence, even arranging a visit for his students by Zulu women to teach the traditional method of coiling clay - a time, Dahl says, when she found her vocabulary. A chance encounter with respected South African designer, Neville Trickett whose introduction to the botanical photography of Karl Blossfeldt (1865-1932) was a stylistically important turning point for her.  Taking her cue form his prints, she began to exclude colour in favour of black and white and experimental forms enhanced by the monochrome palette.

For her the black tones must take on a shape which allows the fluidity to be observed whereas the white has a lightness of spirit and reflection.  Slowly she builds the works, coiling and sculpting the clay. When she achieves the form it has to be dried, the timing of which is dependant on weather conditions, and then fired at +1000°C before a final sanding to achieve the cool and silky touch so distinctive of her work.

Themes & Variations is proud to introduce you to the work of Astrid Dahl in our latest presentation, Botanical Allegories.