The Clay Sculpture of Artist Rebecca Shawyer
“Enter Rebecca Shawyer’s Cable Bay studio and you’re suddenly immersed in a fantasy world populated by carnival figures.
See the long-legged clown with the sad, lovely, winsome gaze; the dignified tall, thin, slightly crazed-smiling woman with the wild red hair; the mysterious, trust inspiring ‘guardians’; the Puckish, beguiling fellow enticing you to come closer.
And others - ethereal, slightly unnerving, lovable, statuesque, or mask-like, puppet-like, grotesquely eerily beautiful, theatrical and intense. No two are the same.”
“Rebecca offers the term ‘carnival imagery’ struggling to name a genre for these highly stylised, unique and intricately decorated figures “I used to live in Italy and I loved the carnival atmosphere, the sense of theatre you came across everywhere,” she says.
Rebecca was a Patisserie Chef who worked in the UK and Europe, in 1995 winning Dessert of the Year in Britain. She has toured as Pastry Chef for Neil Diamond and Tina Turner, and was ‘Prima Pasticerra’ at Italy’s first three star Michelin restaurant. She was also the first woman to work for world champion pastry chef Iginio Massari.
Strong echoes of her passion for pastiage - the art of making flowers and decorations with sugar paste - flavour her current artistic medium. Her carnival figures wear gorgeously rouched and ruffled costumes, lace and brocades, buttons and baubles.
“Yes, it’s highly textured, eccentric. My cakes and desserts used to be like that. In fact, I use my old marzipan tools and pastry cutters quite a lot,” Rebecca admits. “I did a lot of chocolate work before, and working with clay and glazes is similar. You know not to leave fingerprints, to respect surfaces”.”
After eight years of approaching clay with the same obsessive dedication and fierce determination that saw her succeed in Patisserie, Rebecca’s sculptures are in demand with a waiting list for works made to order. As her work sells both here and abroad she now constructs them with detachable body parts for safer transportation.
The pieces can be found at Burning Issues Gallery in Whangarei’s town basin or directly from Rebecca at her Cable Bay studio/showroom. The current price range is $2,500 - $20,000.
(Reference: article on Rebecca Shawyer, The Northern Advocate, 15 May 2008 – Lindy Laird)