June 25, 2017

Guyana landscape inspires ceramic exhibition

Castellani House presents ceramic creations by Mexican-born Mayela Leiva

By Venessa Deosaran

Mayela Leiva

Mayela Leiva, a highly trained ceramist with an intense enthusiasm for taking plain clay and producing intricate masterpieces, finds Guyana’s natural environment an inspiration for her outstanding pottery and sculpture.

In an interview with Guyana Times Sunday Magazine, Leiva said that, before coming to Guyana, she lived in La Paz Baja, South California in Mexico, where she added the landscape is very dry, as it seldom rains during the year.

“There is a lot of cactus, a variety of clays, diversity of woods eroded by nature; a very good alabaster.

“All materials inspire me to create my sculptures and pottery pieces,” she noted.

Her earliest days of training in art began in Costa Rica, with the foundation of drawing and painting being laid in the period 1968 to 1969. This was followed by a general art degree programme, in which she first chose to specialise in ceramics, earning her Licentiatura (Master’s equivalency degree) by the mid-70s from the University of Costa Rica. From then on, Leiva kept developing her art form, and does not mind being called a “potter” instead of an artist.

When Leiva migrated to Guyana, she was immediately enchanted by the local conditions.

“I began to enrich myself with the culture and everything in my environment: the people and art, pottery and clay. I was concerned about finding potters and the materials for making sculptures. I had the opportunity to meet a friend, Imma Subirana, who had been working with clay here, and (she) encouraged me to undertake this challenging work. First, not all (types of clay) used have the same characteristics, and therefore I had to get used to handling the type of clay that we get here,” she revealed.

Here for more than a year, Leiva says her inspiration comes from observing the beauty of Guyana’s landscape and nature.

Her personal duties in Guyana, along with the search for the right quantities and types of clay, left her with only six months to prepare and work for this exhibition of sculptures, installations, vases and bowls at the Castellani House.

“The brightness of the sun in Guyana; the rivers, the rain, its thick nature; the colours of the flowers, the trees, the leaves with thousands of unique shapes and designs inspire me in my work.

“This work permits me to appreciate the engraving and printing of the leaves on the clay, which emphasises its veins, retaining their shape and making it everlasting.

“For this exhibition, leaves are on the floor and hanging from the ceiling, walls and on trees,” said ‘the potter’.

There are also sculptures inspired by landscape. Mountains and clouds have always been part of her exhibitions, as they are part of nature.

“In each sculpture, clouds and mountains have been shaped as I sometime happened to see them.

“Each sculpture and every detail that is present in nature; its function, its link with mankind, reminds us that they are part of the environment; that we live surrounded by them, and that we must take care of them for the survival of all,” she concluded.

Leiva’s exhibition was officially opened at the Castellani House on Thursday, September 22, and continues until October 15. Those who are interested in viewing the exhibition or purchasing her amazing pieces can do so from Monday to Friday from 9:00 hours to16:00 hours. (Taken from Guyana Times Sunday Magazine)

'Ten trees representing the ten regions of Guyana' 2011


'Fruits of the desert' 2009


'Small bonsai with four holes' made to be used as a vase

Curling leaf clay plates