Written by April Spadina
A gentle, coastal breeze blows the tall cypress pines above Trace Turner as she sits quietly in her studio. Her long hair falls over her shoulders to rest at her waist in soft braids, interlaced with silver strands. She breathes to her core and welcomes the morning.
Her soul is of the earth; a connection of heart and terra firma. Trace is a potter, a sculptor of clay, and it is this chosen medium that seduces her in a way that has led her through a life of discovery and chance. There was a time Trace lived in the rugged, desert landscape of Tuscon Arizona and it was there that she was captivated by the late Native American potter Maria Martinez and the Pueblo pottery style. It was a captivation that stayed with Trace for many years and eventually, the earth found its way again to her soul and she started her own journey with clay.
Each piece of pottery Trace tenderly creates is a unique work of art that has a symbolic and spiritual link to Mother Earth. The unpredictable nature of her technique further enhances her love for her craft and as each piece is unveiled it reveals itself in its beautiful, new form. The organic method used in Trace’s craft involves carefully enveloping each object in a variety of organic matter. Pine needles, seaweed, bark and feathers are wrapped around the sculpture and secured with wire before being saggarfired in rusty tin cans to leave the shadowy, carbon smoke effect behind. Colourful oxidisation of sculptural surfaces comes from terra sigillata, a Greek term meaning “earth seal” which involves a slip of pigmented clay brushed on to the surface.
Trace’s primitive sculptures are formed from an intrinsic sense of connectivity with the body. As a masseuse she finds harmony in a flow between skin and clay so it’s only natural that she would create beautiful sculptural pieces based on the human form. Her figural busts might be encased in delicate armour, leaning in to yoga poses or bathed in butterflies, they are always gentle and have a sense of peace about them. The bowls and vases she forms by hand often have a piece intentionally removed and then stitched back in with wire to be whole once more, each fragmented piece beautiful and unique on its own.
Trace has found a balance in life that comes from art, friendship, her authentic sisterhood and community. She opens her studio and shares her love of clay with those yearning to embrace new experiences that are soul fulfilling. It is Trace’s free spirit and curious nature that has lead her to embark on a wholesome, earthly journey and as fate would have it, it has been earth itself that has unearthed Trace of Clay.
Check out Trace Turner’s work from her website www.traceofclay.com.au or her instagram @traceofclay