Review: Liz Williams: Body Language by Margot Osborne,

Book Review: Liz Williams: Body Language, by Margot Osborne, photography by Grant Hancock

A celebration the remarkable figurative sculptures of Australian ceramicist Liz Williams, tracing the evolution of Liz Williams’ impressive body of coil-built works.


Author Margot Osborne noted at this publication’s launch that Liz Williams had, to some extent, been taken for granted as a ceramic artist. When Liz Williams died in March 2017 friends and fellow artists raised funds to produce this book to celebrate her art. This book is the first retrospective overview of her artistic career. I have to admit I wasn’t aware of her work.

Osborne is well qualified to produce such a book as she is an art history researcher, curator and writer. Her essay on the development of Liz Williams’ figurative work is included in the book along with essays and tributes from other artists and friends.

Williams’ work reflected her interests in rites of passage, especially for women, catholic iconography and ritual and, towards the end of her life, Japanese Shinto sculpture. The author describes Liz Williams as an artist who followed these influences to create her own artistic language rather than being influenced by contemporary trends.

Towards the end of the book there are excerpts from Williams’ notebooks. She visited Spain to see how Catholics observed the church’s rituals and we gain a little insight into her artistic process when, in 1996, she writes ‘But I must really learn to be STILL, very still – very silent – very clear – absorbed. And developing my own work again’ (page 117). Thus for Williams, observing was only the first step in the process, then she had to be still and silent to transform/absorb/develop her observations into her own work.

The incredible work which Williams produced is beautifully portrayed by Adelaide photographer Grant Hancock in 70 pages of images, my favourite of which has to be Crescent Moon Bride 2013 (page 14, cover) closely followed by Dressed in yella 1998 (page 50).

I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in art, especially ceramic art.

Reviewed by Jan Kershaw

Rating out of 10:  9

Distributed by: Wakefield Press
Released: September 2017
RRP: $49.95 hardback

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