Ceramicist Ksenia Kil is the artist-in-residence at Nanaimo Ceramic Arts Studio and Gallery. Her exhibition ‘Elusive Labour’ runs from Aug. 20 to Sept. 5. (Josef Jacobson/News Bulletin)

Ceramicist reflects on history of unpaid female labour in Nanaimo exhibit

'Elusive Labour' vessel and sculpture show comes to Nanaimo Ceramic Arts Studio and Gallery

The latest exhibition at Nanaimo Ceramic Arts Studio and Gallery reflects on the history of under-valued female art and labour.

From Aug. 20 to Sept. 5, artist-in residence Ksenia Kil, who hails from Kazakhstan but is currently based on Vancouver Island, presents Elusive Labour.

Kil has an interest in unpaid women’s labour and said COVID-19 has highlighted the issue.

“The pandemic showed it even more because people are stuck at home and maybe men started to see,” she said. “It’s become more visible that female labour is really hard work but it was absolutely erased from history.”

Kil said Elusive Labour is inspired by Russian and Eastern Slavic cookware that was traditionally made by women but overlooked as an art form.

“It’s just completely not in the art history of it all,” she said. “So I wanted to [bring] justice to these women and this art because I feel if we’re just erasing this whole group of people, we cannot tell the whole history of the region.”

The exhibition is composed of hand-made sculptures and vessels, as Kil is interested in exploring the balance between the two forms.

“I like my pieces to be semi-functional,” she said. “To stretch the boundaries of what is conventionally used as vases or vessels.”

The Island landscape was another influence, as Kil sought to imitate the texture of beach rocks by incorporating rock, sand and calcium into her clay.

“Most of my pieces aren’t glazed, so I wanted to save this raw texture of a rock,” she said. “So landscapes of Nanaimo and the Island in general really inspire me.”

WHAT’S ON … Opening reception for Elusive Labour takes place Aug. 20 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Nanaimo Ceramic Arts Studio and Gallery, 140 Wallace St. Show continues until Sept. 5.

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