Celebrating the remarkable figurative sculptures of Australian ceramicist Liz Williams, a new monograph by Dr Margot Osborne, Liz Williams: Body language reveals for the first time the achievements of this underrated Adelaide artist.
Throughout her long career, Williams worked in relative solitude in her Adelaide home studio, travelling overseas frequently to undertake residencies and to research artistic and ceramic traditions.
Her use of clay and her distinctive approach to sculpting the figure made her art difficult to contextualise in terms of contemporary styles in both sculpture and ceramics.
While she exhibited regularly in private galleries, and built a following of collectors, she rarely attracted the attention of art critics or curators of public art collections.
When Williams died in March 2017 after a short illness, her friends and colleagues decided to launch a fundraising campaign towards a publication in honour of her artistic legacy and her contribution to Australian ceramics. This book was made possible by the philanthropy of private donors to that campaign and by the support of Arts South Australia.
In this first comprehensive survey of her ceramics, Margot Osborne traces the evolution of Williams’ impressive body of coil-built ceramic sculptures – from her first figurative ceramics in the early 1980s, to her final works, made shortly before her death.
Over this forty-year period Williams’ work was marked by an increasing refinement and technical prowess in her stylisation of the figure and her encapsulation of the subject’s inner life through pose, facial expression and bodily adornment.
Liz Williams: Body language features 70 full-page colour images of Williams’ ceramics and her home/studio by leading photographer Grant Hancock. It also includes essays by Catherine Speck, Damon Moon and Wendy Walker.
Dr Margot Osborne is a writer, curator and art history researcher. She is the author of four books on Australian artists – Australian Glass Today (Wakefield Press, 2005), Nick Mount: Incandescence (Wakefield Press, 2002), Giles Bettison (Wakefield Press, 2015), and Jeff Mincham (Thames & Hudson, 2009).
Most recently Osborne was lead essayist for the SALA monograph, Christopher Orchard (Wakefield Press, 2017). She is currently researching the Adelaide art scene since 1940 as a Research Fellow in Art History, University of Adelaide.
Image: Liz Williams: Body language (supplied)