Remains to be Seen, 2023

unglazed earthenware



Remains to be Seen suggests the cyclic passage of time through birth, mortality and the impact of heritable human-nature relationships. Installed near Rookwood’s Hawthorne Avenue, my site-specific sculptural ‘avenue’ of pelvises, complete with arching botanical embellishments, implies interwoven epigenetic exterior influences shaping our biological bodies and identities. Symbolically, pelvises reference fertility, inheritance, growth and renewal, while avenues are emblematic of pathways, journeys, resilience and guidance. By installing this fragile and unprotected work on disproportionately large anthropogenic concrete blocks, my intention is to evoke introspection regarding the delicate balance and tension between humanity, nature, spirituality and human intervention.

About the Artist


Clare Nicholson was born in England, and now lives on Gadigal Land in the inner west of Sydney, NSW.





My name is Clare Nicholson and I’m a sculptor and educator living and working on Gadigal Land, in Haberfield, in Sydney’s Inner West. My work, titled Remains to be Seen consists of eight unglazed ceramic anatomical pelvises. I chose to repetitively sculpt pelvises because they are associated with fertility and the creation of life, so I’m hoping to evoke themes of birth, growth, and renewal, suggestive of the cycle of life and mortality—the passage of time, from birth to death.

Each pelvis is uniquely embellished with speculative botanical elements to imply personal identity, distinct experiences, challenges and strengths, while the repetition, including the material repetition of unglazed clay, suggests primal links with nature, along with the commonality of the human spirit that unites us all.

The interwoven botanical elements are intended to convey a sense of epigenetic influence, where exterior environmental influences impress upon the body, shaping acquired characteristics across the generations—essentially, biophilia—and wonderful somatic-environmental entanglements playing through the body.

But more than that, each pelvis has an arching botanical component, replacing the spinal cord, growing up and reaching forward. By juxtaposing the pelvises in pairs facing each other along two rows, this botanical bowing creates a sort of avenue or memorial arch. Culturally, an avenue of trees symbolises a journey towards significant landmarks and spiritual sites. But avenues are also associated with important ceremonial rites of passage and transition. By visualising somatic-environmental relations, my pelvises are intended to reference the memorial site of Rookwood cemetery, being of great historical, socio-cultural and environmental significance. And, in particular, Rookwood’s Hawthorne Avenue, which is very close to this installation, as a spiritual, transitional passageway in the cycle of life.

The fragile pelvises are freestanding, delicately balancing on their coccyx and bony pubis atop oversized, anthropogenic concrete blocks, creating a tension and vulnerability. They teeter on the edge, unprotected and exposed. The discordance of material and scale is intended to create concern and I’m hoping aspects of all of these concepts invite introspective contemplation regarding the interplay between spirituality, our biological heritage, and the nurturing balance between the cyclic nature of life’s journey and ancestral legacies.

In order to create the pelvises, I made a large quantity of white earthenware slip from block clay so I could slip-cast the pelvises from plaster porosity moulds I made. This is an ancient methodology within the field of ceramics, and relies on liquid clay - or slip, being poured into a dry plaster mould in order the plaster absorbs the water from the slip, creating a replica shape determined by the mould.

Due to the complexity of the pelvis, I had to break it down into several components for plaster moulding, and once cast, reassemble the various parts back together. I then set about hand embellishing, ensuring each pelvis was a unique, one-off piece, while supporting the arching elements.

On completion each pelvis was carefully placed in an enclosed drying cupboard and left to dry extremely slowly over several months. This is vital in preventing the more delicate botanical elements from cracking or breaking due to the drying process.

Once dry, I fired the pelvises at an incredibly slow rate over several days, in an electric kiln predominately powered by solar panels. I then made custom plywood and foam crates for safe delivery.