Gillian Hodes: Biography
Born in Zvishavane, a small rural town in Zimbabwe, Gillian grew up immersed in the African bush. African sculptures and terracotta pottery bowls were an integral part of life, always for sale on the side the road. It was while playing with local kids around a dripping tap in her backyard that she discovered an affinity with creating with mud, and the seed for her fascination with three-dimensional form (which lay dormant until much later in her life) was planted. Her schooling in Harare, Zimbabwe was followed by University in Cape Town, South Africa, where she graduated with a Commerce Degree majoring in Marketing and Economics. In 1999, she emigrated to Sydney with her family, to escape the political upheaval and violence in Southern Africa.
In 2011 Gillian left a successful Market Research career in search of a calmer and more creative life. In 2015 she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts (Sculpture) from the National Art School in Sydney in 2015, followed by a Diploma of Ceramics from Northern Beaches TAFE in 2017.
Now living near the ocean in Sydney, Gillian finds that the ebb and flow as waves rise and fall and the crisp, clear light, bring her the calm she seeks. She is strongly influenced by patterns in the waves, seaweed, coastal flora and grasses as they move in union, along with the constantly evolving marks etched by the wind into the sandstone cliffs near her home.
Gillian’s preferred ceramic material is porcelain. Tactile and creamy, it has a purity of colour and is translucent yet incredibly strong when vitrified. These qualities play an important role in her art practice, where she is constantly experimenting and innovating with ever-thinner porcelain and the way light and shadow can be manipulated.
She says: “working with porcelain indulges my inner perfectionist, while at the same time is a meditation in non-attachment, as the outcome is never guaranteed.”
Gillian works and teaches at her Coogee studio and at Waverley Woollahara Art School in Bondi. She finds it immensely satisfying to spark in her students, especially children, the same excitement and curiosity that she experienced back when she was a little girl, around that muddy tap.
In 2017 Gillian won First Prize in the CraftNSW Emerging Artist Award. She was invited to join CraftNSW and regularly exhibited with them at their gallery in The Rocks and participated in their community, until the gallery sadly closed during Covid. She won Second Prize in the Wallenberg Portrait Competition, for a portrait bust of Holocaust Survivor, Ernie Friedlander and has been a finalist in numerous prestigious awards. She regularly exhibits her work which is available from Australian Design Centre in Sydney, Sturt Gallery in Mittagong, NSW, and directly from her Coogee studio.