Avital Sheffer's work is informed by an investigation of her Middle Eastern and Jewish heritage and an ongoing engagement with the landscape, architecture, languages and wisdom of that part of the world. The territory she refers to in her work is historically loaded; few places have produced as much influence on the spread of art, language and spirituality and fewer still have produced as much conflict and dispute. Ancient ceramics, glass, metalware and calligraphy are a well of inspiration. The elegant and expressive designs on the surface of her vessels come from a library of ancient Semitic, Arabic and Hellenic texts and imagery she has gathered from museums and libraries around the world. Living in Australia has been an important influence on her work; “…absorbing influences of landscape and light offers a unique perspective from which I revaluate my complex heritage. I am interested in the frayed edges of mythologies and language, where dialogue and cross-fertilization between cultures takes place. Personal experiences of conflict, migration, dislocation and renewal intersect with the dilemmas between traditions and modernity.” Avital’s ceramic vessels are hand-formed, constructed with coil, slab and mould, fired multiple times with applications of slips, glazes, terra sigilattas and prints.
Avital Sheffer grew up in Israel, where she practiced fashion and textile design, building design and town planning. After migrating to Australia in 1990 and settling on the North Coast of NSW, she turned to the making of ceramics, receiving a Diploma in ceramics from Lismore TAFE College in 2003. Over the last ten years Avital has exhibited widely across Australia and the USA, and has been a finalist in numerous awards including the Blake Prize, Manning Art Prize and IV International Biennial of Ceramics in Korea. Avital Sheffer is a member of the International Academy of Ceramics and her work is represented in many collections including the National Gallery of Australia, Powerhouse Museum, Ateliers d’Art de France, Manly Art Gallery and Museum and many regional galleries across Australia.