Cheryl Lucas grew up in Central Otago – the rugged and austere landscape of which is reflected in the bold geometries of her work. After obtaining a Diploma in Fine and Applied Art from Otago School of Art in 1975 and a Diploma in Lithography Advanced from Wimbledon College of Art, London in 1979, Lucas taught ceramics and drawing at Christchurch Polytechnic (which later became Ara Institute).
Lucas began exhibiting widely in the 1990s. Since retiring from teaching in 2005, when not in the garden, Lucas has worked full time from her home studio in Lyttelton, overlooking the harbour, where she has lived since 1987.
Ceramics provide Lucas a versatile medium to explore social, environmental and land use issues. Setting and context are significant, from references to hanging sheep carcasses in a kill house to homely kitchen items from a farm kitchen. Following the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010/2011, she found a unique niche making replacement chimney pots and decorative details for restored heritage buildings.
Her work since 2019 interprets the amazing structures of native bifurcating plants uniquely evolved for harsh conditions and to fend of extinct browsers like Moa. This, she says, mindful of Covid and isolation, is “a metaphor for these modern times and an appreciation of our island status.” These boldly complex pieces speak of resilience and individualism, but also a certain amount of vulnerability.
Lucas’s work has been acknowledged with a Sculpture on the Peninsula Premier Award in 2011, a Portage Ceramics Merit Award and membership of the International Ceramic Association in 2017, and the Creative New Zealand Craft/Object Fellowship in 2019. She has been artist in residence at the FuLe International Ceramic Art Centre, in Fuping, China in 2007, and Sturt in Mittagong, Australia in 2013.
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