Tamar Mason sculptures

tamar mason, ceramic sculpture, south african artists

Tamar Mason work on fabric

Tamar Mason architectural commission

Who are we? Mark Attwood

Who are we? Jacky Tsila


Tamar Mason uses clay, found objects and cattle horns as her chosen medium. Sculptures are hand built, using the traditional coiling technique favoured by women in Africa for centuries. Wax, ochre's and oxides and spices such as turmeric are rubbed into kiln fired figures and vessels whilst others are pit fired. Some of the vessels are rendered "useless" by being drilled with holes and then studded with upholstery pins. In this way, clay is removed from its traditional domestic domain and used as a "fine art" material. Mason's work is technically and stylistically as powerful as the issues she deals with thematically.

The engraved cattle horns and skulls refer to cattle as a symbol of wealth and prestige in Africa."By engraving the cattle skulls they become a form of meditating on contemporary issues such as home made weapons, handbags, 'shut up and shop' and forming an identity out of diverse fragments. Street graffiti, co-opting of cultural artefacts and the contrasts between urban and rural experiences are the things that energise and excite me about working and living in this fabulous country."

Tamar Mason's sculptures refer to the experience of being a woman in Southern Africa. "By virtue of my skin colour I am seen as an outsider to some of the rituals and traditions that often define one as being African. At the same time being a woman and a mother transcends issues of tribe and links one to a common experience of exhaustion, nappies, joy and guilt. By virtue of my gender I am an outsider to the experience of being a male in Africa but am an insider to many of the facets that define being a woman in Africa. In 2010 my sister had her DNA tested and we were thrilled to learn that our mitochondrial DNA is east African, having originated from the Mbuti Pygmies".

"Insider / Outsider also refers to the experience of tribal initiation; being uninitiated I find myself fascinated and repelled by the concept of initiation. Female genital initiation appalls me in its surgical ruthlessness and yet I find myself sympathetic to other aspects of initiation such as the way it binds age sets, sets perimeters for behaviour and celebrates aspects of the feminine and the masculine. The symbolism of the knife, cowrie shell, cattle horns and grass brooms link these issues in my work".

The clay vessel reflects women as a vessel for life; both nurture, both contain milk and blood and both are strong yet fragile. The use of upholstery pins in the vessels are both tactile and visually appealing. On the top, they are smooth and shiny. On the bottom they are sharp and can piece one.

Since 2004 Tamar Mason has focused her ceramic work on creating figures that are between 70cm to 2m high. These figures are all female (the one male figure that she worked on was a failure).

The images that follow track Mason's sculptural work.

tamar mason, south african art, south african sculpture

Title: Eyes Wide Shut
Medium: Stoneware clay, oxides, turmeric,polish
Base: S teel
Height: 73cm
Price: NFS

ceramic sculpture, african sculpture, south african artists

Title: Mother Figure
Medium: Stoneware clay, oxides, polish, turmeric
Base: Steel
Height: 81cm
Price: SOLD

tamar mason sculpture, tamar mason, south african ceramics

Detail: Mother Figure

tamar mason, tamar mason art, south african art, south african sculpture

Title(from left): Balance, Make-Mma-Mum-Ma, Pandemic, Cattle Game
Medium: Stoneware clay, oxides, polish, pins, found objects
Base: Steel
Height: Balance (145cm), Pandemic 150cm, Make-Mma-Mum-Ma 157cm, Cattle Game 200cm
Price: Pandemic R 23 000, Make-Mma-Mum-Ma R 23 000 (others NFS)

tamar mason, south african ceramics, south african art

Title: Pandemic, detail

tamar mason, south african sculpture,  female african sculptors

Title: Kabokweni Mother
Medium: Stoneware clay, oxides, polish, antelope horns
Base: Steel
Height: 110cm
SOLD

tamar mason, south african art, south african sculpture

Detail: "Balance"

tamar mason, south african art, south african sculpture

Title: Water Provider
Medium: Stoneware clay, oxide, polish, pins, glass
Base: Steel
Height: 74cm
SOLD

tamar mason, south african art, south african sculpture

Title: Post-natal Depression
Medium: Stoneware clay, oxides,polish, turmeric, upholstery pins
Base: Steel
Height: 82cm
SOLD

tamar mason, south african art, south african sculpture

Title: Victim
Medium: Stoneware clay, oxides, polish, pins
Base: Steel
Height: 71cm
SOLD

tamar mason, south african art, south african sculpture

Title: Lobola Welts
Medium: Stoneware clay, oxides,polish, turmeric, pins
Base: Steel
Height: 90cm
SOLD

tamar mason, south african art, south african sculpture

Title: Iron-Hers (top) Hammer-His (bottom)
Medium: Engraved cattle horns, oxides, polish, pins
SOLD

tamar mason, south african art, south african sculpture

Title: Power (top) Mozambique/South Africa(bottom)
Medium: Engraved cattle horns, oxides, polish, pins
Price: R 2 000 each

Tamar Mason work on fabric