Samantha Dickie is a Victoria-based contemporary ceramic artist, focused on abstract expressionism and minimalist sculpture within an installation practice. Following a Bachelor of Arts degree from Trent University, she completed a Diploma in Ceramics from the Kootenay School of the Arts. Over the past 15 years, her practice includes attending various residencies in Canada and abroad; receiving national and provincial grants to create large scale projects for exhibition in public galleries across Canada, as well as teaching workshops and presenting at provincial conferences such as the Canadian Clay Symposium in B.C. and the Fusion Ceramics Conference in Ontario. Recent and upcoming public exhibitions include the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery and the Art Gallery of Burlington, in Ontario; as well as commercial commissions for Louis Vuitton. She is currently represented by Madrona Gallery in Victoria, B.C., and Jonathon Bancroft-Snell Gallery in London, Ontario.
A technically trained ceramicist, Samantha Dickie has, over the past two decades, fostered an artistic practice that actively engages with abstraction and multiplicity. In creating her large clusters of abstracted clay multiples, she opens up possibilities for reflecting on the relationships that exist between entities—as well as on the spaces that exist within relationships. Working in this vein allows her to explore particular dyads, such as subject-object, seen-unseen, individual-collective, viewer-viewed. The gaps that exist between, and often within, the individual elements in her groupings are as important as the objects themselves—they create distinctive geographies that allow for imaginative, and sometimes actual, wanderings. These spaces are, equally, suggestive of restorative pause, of spaces that don’t necessarily need to be filled, either temporally or physically.
Dickie’s physical process of working with clay has been fundamental to her psychological process of thinking about the world, and about the conditions of our humanness. Integrating a theoretical degree in women’s studies with her broad interests in philosophy and psychology, she has become drawn to the visceral nature of rough and intentionally imprecise clay as emblematic of rejecting social pressures, often placed with particular weight on women, to strive for unattainable perfection. For Dickie, there is expressive beauty in imperfection. Her organic aesthetic invites an immersive, sensory experience of her work. It also sustains an important connection to the natural world that is in a constant state of growth, decay, and fragility. The forms she creates—variously bulbous, tubular, radial—seem as if they could, indeed, have been plucked from stems or dug up from the earth, while at the same time conveying an unmistakable presence of the human hand. Sizes may range from pieces that fit in the palm of the hand to those that will tower over head high. Some swell outwards with an air or fragility, holding a degree of tension; with others, Dickie has carved deep, angular patterns into their thick, weighted surfaces.
The relationship between human and material maintains a primacy throughout her practice. The closest her pieces come to resembling anything machined, is that certain ones might seem resonant of rusting metal gears and cogs that have been left outside to quietly submit to the organic, chemical workings of nature. The tactile, sensory nature of Dickies ceramic work, and its refusal to align with any functional or representational identity, creates room for viewers to experience their own, immersive narratives when encountering it. This is heightened by the manner in which basic forms are reiterated into a multiplicity—there is a porosity to both the surface of her pieces, and to her clustered installations that invites viewers into a generative pause.