Leonie Siri MacMillan
My background in film making has inspired me to create narratives for my ceramic pieces in which science and mythology intertwine in comment to the human condition. By using the symbol of The Goddess, I am able to link past and present mythologies.
My production technique uses combinations of high fired clays, experimenting with plaster cast molds, textured markings and melted glass. I hand-build and throw on the wheel. Colour is then applied using slips and self-made glazes which have been informed by abstract colour sketches. The narrative of the piece is then completed by adding photographic decals.
Ceramics create an enduring record, that when embedded with photographs become a message for the future. It reminds me of the geology of the earth, and it feels magical and profound to create in this way.
I chose to make the human form in clay as a way to communicate the human connection to the earth. That connection and its complexities are described within each piece.
For me, the female torso is the epitome of ‘woman as object’ (See feminist theories on Objectification) and lends well to the discussion of women’s struggles in the world. This is the underlying narrative within most of my work.
I am presently working on sculptural ways to represent the Inuit myth of Sedna Goddess of the Sea, with clay. I am incorporating the shapes, textures, colours, and ideas that I have been gathering with my colour sketches of whales.
This Inuit myth seems relevant to today’s world where women’s voices are often unheard, leaving a sense of betrayal and powerlessness – and gives a sense of hope.
There are many variations of the myth, but I have written out the common threads that I have found here:
SEDNA, GODDESS OF THE SEA
Sedna, a beautiful Inuit girl, refused to marry until one particular Inuk came to visit her. This man promised Sedna that he would provide her with plenty of food to eat and furs for clothes and blankets. She agreed to marry him. After they were man and wife, he took her away to his island. When they were alone on the island, he revealed to her that he was actually a supernatural being – half human, half bird. Sedna was horrified, but she was trapped and had to make the best of it. He, of course, was not a good hunter and could not provide her with meat and furs.
They lived together on the island for a time, until Sedna's father decided to come and visit. Upon seeing that his daughter was so unhappy and that her husband had lied to her, he killed the birdman. Sedna and her father got into his kayak and set off for home. The birdman's family discovered what had happened, and furiously pursued the fleeing boat, as birds. The flapping of their wings resulted in a huge storm. The waves crashed over the small kayak making it almost impossible to keep the boat upright.
Sedna's father feared that the storm would fill his kayak with water and that he would drown in the icy waters, so he pushed Sedna overboard, thinking she was the reason the birds were so angry. She did not want to be left in the water, so she held tightly to the edge of her father's boat and would not let go. Afraid that she would tip him over, the father cut Sedna’s fingers off, one joint at a time. From each of her finger joints different sea mammals were born.
Sedna sank to the bottom of the ocean and became a powerful spirit. She transmuted her horrific situation by transforming into a beautiful sea creature- half human, half whale. She became both powerful and kind, protecting the oceans.