Karlien van Rooyen - Ceramic Sculptor

Karlien Van Rooyen

After twelve years as an activist in Australia, ceramic artist Karlien van Rooyen has now returned home to live and study medicine in South Africa. Her art is ultimately inspired by her deep connection to faith, the environment, and sustainability. She completed a degree in Contemporary Art at the University of South Australia and is also a student of Medical Sciences.

Growing up on a wild coastline in South Africa shaped Karlien van Rooyen’s approach to creating art. Reaching for tadpoles and squishing mud cakes deeply fostered a lure to raw earth materials. At the age of sixteen, she migrated to Australia to study medicine but diverted to become an environmental activist. After six years living in bush blockades and taking mining companies to court, she felt a need to consolidate these unconventional experiences, leading her to a three-year fine art degree and instigating her love of clay.

“Clay allows me to set aside my mind and for my body to speak its yearning to connect to the landscape as I had in my childhood. Through embodied sculpting my memories emerge from expression at the ‘cradle of craft’, evoking reminders of my primal self and merging a need for expression and utility. The work serves as a textural reminder of my truest nature or uninhibited being. I believe it is this state of collective intuitive intelligence that connects the human spirit,” says Karlien.

Karlien’s sculptures are concerned with perspectives on social and environmental sustainability where her stylised ‘termite-mounds’ represent the individual as a collective body of culture showing that we are one with humanity. Karlien has been the recipient of the Minter Ellison Award for Female Artist with Outstanding Creative Potential, Carclew International Project Grant 2018 and was selected for a seven week ceramic residency in 2018 in Jingdezhen, China.


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