Valda Podkalne (Latvia)

My creative pursuits in this exhibition cover an extended period when I’ve been reflecting on personally meaningful topics that give me strength and inspiration to be fully present in the ‘here‑and‑now’.

Our life is made of stories, some adventurous and eventful, so dynamic and expansive they could fill entire books, others more secretive, hidden deep in the innermost chambers of our memory and subconscious.

This notion gave me the idea for this show, The Essay Arena, where I work with ‘islands of thought’. Each exhibit has its own message, vision, dream or recollection that’s been transformed into an installation reflective of my lived experience. My perception and interpretation of events are tied to the themes of past and present, privacy and publicity, intimacy, childhood and loss.

Right now, our memories seem precious as gold dust. Although we live ‘here and now’, our present has lost the easy vibe of routine daily life.

My sculptural work and its reflections were made against the background of the past two years of the pandemic and are now presented against the backdrop of human suffering in Ukraine. The exhibition embodies my reflections on the mood of today.

My raw material is porcelain, which is always exciting – coming into contact with other materials, its pure, solid and fragile properties give my work incredible layers of substance.

Valda Podkalne

Rīga-born artist Valda Podkalne graduated from the Art Academy of Latvia, Industrial Design Department, in 1979 and was accepted into the Latvian Artists Union in 1986.

For many years, she successfully combined creative pursuits with administrative and academic duties as a docent at the academy’s Visual Communication Department. In 2001, driven by the need to push the borders of her creativity, Podkalne became involved in photography and installation art. She has been a full-time freelance artist since 2007.

Outstanding creative achievements have earned Podkalne numerous awards, most notably: the Bronze Prize at the MARTINSONS AWARD International Juried Exhibition of Contemporary Ceramics within the Latvia Ceramics Biennale 2016; Grand Prix at the International Ceramic Sculpture Biennale 2010 Luxembourg; Bronze Prize at the International Porcelain Triennial Nyon 2001, Switzerland; and Grand Prix for ceramic sculpture at the EUROPEAN CERAMICS juried exhibition in Höhr-Grenzhausen, Germany.

Podkalne’s creative record includes countless international symposiums in Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany and the US. She has lived and worked at the Paris International Art Centre, France. Her work is represented in public and private collections in Europe and the States.

Exhibition period: 22 April– 26 June 2022