May 5 2010 Liz Bellchambers, Harrow Observer
A SCULPTOR who recently celebrated her first solo exhibition in Dollis Hill will demonstrate her creative talent at two further shows in the capital later this month.
Mother-of-two Shivashtie Poonwassie, 47, of Ickenham, displayed her unusual collection of sculptures, including ceramic and brickwork heads and faces, at Inside, a new show at the Stables Gallery in Gladstone Park, and will soon be exhibiting in Battersea and Chelsea.
Shivashtie, who lives with her partner Michael and teenagers Naomi and Max, has also been leading a sculpture project for children at Yeading Infant School in Hayes, which will culminate in an exhibition for Hillingdon Arts Week this summer.
The former Uxbridge College student, who later completed a degree in ceramics and glass at Bucks New University in 2007, says she is inspired by ideas about perception and reality. She explained: "It's about me being intuitive with the size and shape - I don't actually plan it. It is a reflection of how I feel at the time and a response to the material."
Shivashtie's exhibition at the Stables included a series of oversized heads which were sculpted and fired locally at HG Matthews traditional brickworks in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, where she rents a work space.
All the clay used is dug from original deposits, also in Chesham and nearby Chalfont St Giles.
She begins with a stack of un-fired bricks which she kneads until the clay is soft, before sculpting into a head. This is left to dry before being dismantled then fired in the kilns on site.
Once completely dry, the sculpture is reassembled using unique marks scribed on each brick to follow a careful construction plan, before colour and detail are added.
Many pieces are based on a mould of Shivashtie's own face, and she creates a wide variety of effects by experimenting with different materials, such as embedding mesh in the clay, and glazes.
She says her time at Uxbridge College played an important part in her becoming an artist: "I had always wanted to do art and the foundation course at
Uxbridge College really opened up my eyes and proved to be an excellent grounding for university.
"The course allowed me to gain experience in a number of aspects of art, such as photography, textiles and design, and it changed the way I looked at the whole concept.
"Even those aspects of the course I never thought would apply to me have become relevant in one way or another and I would encourage others not to dismiss any part of a course as irrelevant, as you never know what will be useful in the future.
"I went to the V&A Museum in London on one of my research visits and saw the glass section; it really inspired me and gave me a direction.
"The tutors on my course encouraged me to apply for university and I was fortunate that Bucks New University did a ceramics and glass degree which would fit in with my responsibilities of being a mum."
Clark, head of creative studies at Uxbridge College, said: "Shivashtie was an outstanding student so it is no surprise she is doing so well.
"It is brilliant seeing her creating such original, interesting work and exhibiting her art so successfully." * For more information about Shivashtie visit www.shivashtie.co.uk.