Aleida Pullar is a Central Coast artist working across ceramics, textiles, jewellery, printmaking and painting. We recently visited her charming studio set within tranquil bushland in Avoca.
Aleida was born in Friesland, northern Holland and immigrated to Australia with her family in 1950, at the age of two. The family settled in Hillsborough; a small community surrounded by bushland on the outskirts of Newcastle. The decision to immigrate was a wrench for her parents, who had married and started a family during, and in the years directly after, WWII. Like many Europeans after the war, they sought a better life for their children.
Happily, several Dutch and English migrant families lived in the same street as the Pullars, and Aleida has happy memories of them. She vividly remembers Mr Lilly, an eccentric gentleman who walked around on his hands to entertain the neighbourhood children.
Aleida had a happy childhood, spent gallivanting with her four siblings. Even the daily route to the local public
school was an adventure that involved trekking through bush and traversing creeks which flooded occasionally –
much to the delight of the children as it guaranteed a day off school.
Hillsborough’s dirt roads were regularly churned over by a grader, and after rain the rolls of dirt deposited at the edges of the levelled roads would turn into clay. From the clay Aleida’s brothers would make marionette puppets, which they would then shoot to smithereens with shanghais. Aleida on the other hand, made figurines, cups and bowls.
Aleida kept “playing” with clay, and textiles, throughout her school years, spending as much time in the art room as possible. She recalls the puzzled looks on her parents’ faces when, during primary school, she upped tools and dug several large holes in the family backyard in a failed attempt to make a wood fired kiln.
After high school, Aleida decided to study a Diploma of Arts Education at Newcastle Art School and Newcastle Teachers College, majoring in painting.
After graduating Aleida spent several years teaching at Merriwa High School, Newcastle TAFE and Newcastle Centre for Adult Education before settling on the Central Coast with her family in the early 1990s. With little teaching work available in the area, Aleida focused on her studio practice, and Studio Latitude 33 came into being.
Surrounded by bushland, Aleida’s studio is clad in oxblood red corrugated iron and indigo dyed noren or Japanese banners hang above the entrance door. Inside, the studio has raked ceilings and large glass windows overlooking reserve. Looking out, it’s as though the studio is perched among the treetops with a view to a large pond brimming with water lilies below.
It‘s a serene setting, telling of Aleida’s appreciation of nature which plays an important role in her work as an artist.
Jumping between projects in the studio, Aleida’s diverse creative processes inter-splice and weave a constant thread through her work. The expressive, direct quality of Aleida’s work reflects her belief that trying too hard to control the creative process makes it soulless and unsatisfying. Aleida seeks to be true to herself, her process and materials, avoiding over-patternating the surface of her work, and instead drawing from the materials what is inherent to them.
The notion of art being useful is also important to Aleida and perhaps not surprising, given the practicality and resourcefulness of her parents’ generation. The artists’ ceramics usually take the form of expertly thrown planters, beakers, jars and plates.
Similarly, her shibori dyed textiles often become table linen, cushion covers and tea towels. The resulting contrast between highly expressive mark making and perfectly formed, useful objects results in work that is highly dynamic.
Much of Aleida’s work subtly references the Australian landscape through restrained yet gestural brushwork. Bands of colour, lines and shapes glazed onto the surface of ceramics, or etched into silver, hint at the endless horizons, rolling hills and snaking waterways of the Australian landscape. Vivid copper, cobalt and green glazes capture the hues of the natural environment in all its rugged beauty. Australian painters John Olsen, Fred Williams and Brett Whitley have influenced her work, as well as Japanese ceramics, prints and textiles. Her delicate cobalt blue and white porcelain pieces also draw parallels to Dutch blue delftware, a nod to Aleida’s heritage.
Aleida’s textiles combine batik, shibori and drawing techniques on natural linens. She works with indigo dyes almost exclusively and draws inspiration from the limitless variables offered by the dyeing process.
One character who makes repeat appearances in Aleida’s textiles is the trout. Apart from enjoying eating trout, Aleida hasn’t a clue why she feels such an affinity for the fish and laughs recalling the first time she insisted that her local fishmonger leave the head on her fish, naturally so she could draw it!
For the last 20 years Aleida has been exhibited in galleries nationally including the now legendary Von Bertouch Collectors Choice and her works are sold at the highly regarded Sturt Gallery in Mittagong and at the National Trust Cafe at the S.H Ervin Gallery in Sydney, to name but a few.
These days Aleida regularly sells at Avoca Beach Markets, Moochinside in Hardys Bay, Kerrie Lowe Gallery in Newtown, Chinaclay in Clovelly, Woodpapersilk in Petersham and via her own studio, by appointment only. She is a member of The Australian Ceramics Association, and on the Australian Ceramics Directory.
Aleida's studio does exhibitions, retail and wholesale, corporate projects/gifts commissions Enquiries email: aleidapullar@ phone: 0408821464