Yasmin Smith is an artist who uses ceramic and glaze technologies to manifest environmental and human histories. Through a process of extensive field research, community collaboration and studio development, she creates ceramic sculptures with ash glazes made from plants and other materials. In a coalescence of scientific and artistic concerns, she develops aesthetic outcomes that express ecological forms.
Her installation Terra Dei Fuochi (Land of Fire) derives from poplar trees grown in Italy at the San Giuseppiello phyto-remediation plantation, a site near Naples whose soil has been contaminated by decades of illegal waste disposal. Poplars were planted to remove heavy metals from the soil. Smith worked with a local scientist to collect poplar limbs, which she has cast to create stoneware replicas. Poplar wood was burned to make ash glazes which, via colour and texture, reveal and archive the chemicals that the tree absorbed in its lifetime. The work gives voice to an environmental narrative recorded by trees, an organic memory of ecological damage and repair, exploring the self-healing capacity in local ecologies.