Zemer Peled’s work examines the beauty and brutality of the natural world. Her sculptural language is formed by her surrounding landscapes and nature, engaging with themes of nature and memory, identity and place.
Her works are formed of ceramic shards, constructed into sculptures and installations. Using a slab roller Peled makes sheets of clay which are fired, and then smashed into pieces with a hammer, creating a contrast between soft and solid material. Her current body of work is inspired by the Blue and White floral and landscape designs painted on Japanese Wares. Peled’s series of contemporary sculptures are made out of thousands of porcelain shards, coloured with blue cobalt, which are then restructured into anthropomorphic and zoomorphic sculptural forms.
Peled was born and raised in a Kibbutz in the northern part of Israel. After completing a BA (hons) Ceramics and Glass at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem she graduated with MA Ceramics and Glass from the Royal College of Art in Londo when she was awarded the Clore Foundation Award. Her work has featured at Sotheby’s and Saatchi Gallery, London; Eretz, and The Museum Tel Aviv, Israel; and the Orangerie du Senate, Paris among others.
5 Questions for Zemer Peled
What is your educational background and what brought you to study art?
Zemer Peled: I completed my undergrad in Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem and my Masters at the Royal College of Art in London. I have been surrounded by art all my life, and was always encouraged by my parents to find my artistic path. Through most of my childhood, I danced and believed it would be “my thing”, but I “retired” during my army service in Israel and started exploring other artistic paths. I applied to Bezalel Academy of Art in Jerusalem, and very quickly realized that this is what I wanted to do.
Your sculptures all have organic qualities and visually come across as abstracted plant forms. What is the influence behind your choice of imagery?
Zemer Peled: My work examines the beauty and brutality of the natural world and I’m inspired by nature and my surrounding landscapes. In my current body of work I’m influence by the historically important era in ceramic history, the Blue and White Porcelain Wares, in particular the 19th centaury Blue and White floral and landscape designs painted on Japanese Igezara plates. Looking at the small painting then enlarging and turning them into life-size sculptures, I would like the viewer to feel as if they are walking inside a blue and white porcelain plate. The pieces are made out of thousands of porcelain shards colored with blue cobalt.
Can you tell me a little bit about your process for making these sculptures?
Zemer Peled: The sculptures I make are formed of ceramic shards, constructing them into large-scale/small-scale sculptures and installations. I am producing the shards myself using the slab roller; I make sheets of clay, fire them, and smash them into pieces with a hammer. I love playing with the idea of the texture and the form can look airy, delicate, light and fluffy and to give a sense of flutter, as if my breath would break it. Yet, the hard and sharp shards can be seen as round and moving, and give a sense of softness.
Are there any other themes at work in your pieces?
Zemer Peled: Archeology is a huge interest of mine since I was a little child. Next to the Kibbutz where I grow up, in the north part of Israel, there is an archaeological site and as a child I used to go there a lot, digging in the ground and looking for cool shards! Moreover, I’m looking a lot at ancient ceramic objects and mosaics that were found in Israel, as reference for my work. One of my favorite places in Israel is the Archaeology Wing at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. I am fascinated with the amount of history that is buried in my country and with the fact that wherever you go you can dig in the ground and find shards that tells you so much about the complex history of the land. In my work I’m creating and producing my own shards, giving my sculptures their own history and story.
I really like how your work deals with destruction, creation, and sometimes the full circle back to destruction. Can you speak about that theme and how it functions in your work?
Zemer Peled: Process is crucial to my sculptural ideas. They are consistent with the Kabbalah concepts of Shevirah (breaking) and Tikkun (mending) that can also be considered as renewal. I make, then break, then make again. Chaos, destruction, and decay are intense and necessary creative process for me to create each of my sculptures.