Clay, Creatures & Animal Masks

Ceramic sculptures and oil paintings by Wendy Reiss

The Budgeon's display case in the Richmond Library foyer

415 Church Street, Richmond (Melbourne)

31 March to 28 June 2016

Review by Cressida Fox

I was delighted by Wendy Reiss' 'creatures', in her display of nine ceramic sculptures and oil paintings. Here is an excerpt from her artist's statement: “Perhaps eclectic is an apt description of my influences, resulting in ceramic mixed media. Stage props, masks & puppets in theatre a conceptual fascination. I broke some of the traditional ceramic glazing rules, and experimented with raw unfired oxides & unglazed form and paint ... Humans have always used paintings, masks, music and dance to create myth magic, and ceramics was probably the first sculpture to respect the ancestors and honour the Gods.”

Display Case - front view - works by Wendy Reiss

Elephant Mask, ceramic, 2016, by Wendy Reiss

Wendy's artworks do indeed have a mythical, mystical, spiritual quality about them. Some pay homage to various Gods. Elephant Mask was influenced by the Hindu God Ganesha. Bosch's Bear, with his bird's beak, could be Egyptian. I felt that these works also had a touching human quality, as I gazed fondly at the little bear who sat in an almost childlike position.

Bosch's Bear, ceramic, 2002, by Wendy Reiss

Sorrow (Drought), ceramic, 2001, by Wendy Reiss


In a particularly touching work, Sorrow (Drought), the weeping head was also godlike, and attended by a figure bent in grief. Animal masks have been used in numerous religeons and eras. Who could the Lion Mask be? There is also a mask in the painting, Melbourne Cup Dreamer, a blue horse with a white manlike mask. Who could this be?

Display Case Detail - front view - works by Wendy Reiss

Grandmother's Opera Glasses, ceramic, 2007, by Wendy Reiss


I was fascinated by Grandmother's Opera Glasses, with real opera glasses that did belong to Wendy's grandmother. This grand lady, a family matriarch, gazed sternly at the viewer with her steely eye, brandishing her walking stick, glittering with “jewels” and wearing a tiara, her opera glasses like headlights on the little cart that she rode or was part of. Wendy's ceramics are much more than clay, sporting colourful paint and embellishments, highly inventive and creative.

Go To Top