Wed | Sep 20, 2017

Norma Rodney Harrack - teacher, author, artist

Published:Sunday | October 2, 2016 | 10:00 AM

Pablo Picasso once said: 'Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.' Norma Harrack had no problem maintaining her artistic attributes, and today her pieces are on display in museums around the world.

A woman born 'under the clock', Harrack recalls having a very happy childhood filled with vivid memories of loving, dedicated parents and six siblings. "Ours was a military family, my father an army sergeant major and my mother the caring housewife, provider and adviser. Our excursions were filled with laughter and discovery. As a young child, I was always doodling, hence, I had an instinctive flair for art from a young age. My parents supported my career choice because they recognised my passion. Their encouragement bolstered my pursuit of excellence and I enjoyed the support and admiration of my siblings for the works I crafted."

Harrack knows no other way of life, and has dedicated the last 25 years to the creative industry. "I feel that art is innate to my persona and so it is a passion that naturally drives me," she shared.

Despite the natural talent she was born with, Harrack improved her skills under the tutelage of Jamaica's master potter Cecil Baugh at the Jamaica School of Art - now Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts.

"Originally, it was sculpture that sparked my interest, however, rotation to the ceramic department at the art school ignited in me a fervour for the ceramic arts and so a trajectory to that path was set. I am excited by the medium, by its playful and obedient nature and the interesting ceramic heritage dating to c 650 1611. The excitement of working with clay lies in its unpredictability and the consequence of the work to the transformative process of firing, where clay and glaze change into mass and colour," said the owner of five dogs - Buzz, Shu-Shi, Chu-Chu, Spot and Leo.

To date, Harrack's work has been shown in Dublin, Ireland; Zagreb, Croatia; Faenza, Italy; Burlington, Canada; Cairo, Egypt; Frechen, Germany; Athens,-Greece; Icheon, South Korea; Geneva, Switzerland; Yixing, China; Latvia (Baltic State); Paris, France and SantaFe, New Mexico.

Most recently she flew to Barcelona for the Ceramics in Architecture and Public Space at the Museum of Design that opened on September 12, followed by a conference organised in collaboration with the exhibition. "My ceramic work, Tower of Dreams was featured in the exhibition and will remain in the Museum after the exhibition closes, as part of the museum's permanent collection," Harrack told Outlook. Once again Harrack was excited that her work has now reached the international space, and is proud of the recognition it brings to Jamaican art.

In addition to being a world renowned artist, Harrack is currently on the faculty of the Edna Manley College, where she teaches ceramic art to first- and fourth-year students. "And then I might find a bit of time for gardening. In the mix I do some voluntary work and attend committee meetings. And then there are my five dogs and eight budgies," she shared of how her time is spent.

So it's no surprise the wife of the late master sculptor Fitzroy (Fitz) Harrack, has little to no down time. "I rarely have down time, because I have another passion: writing. I am currently writing a book (to be completed soon) on The History of Ceramics in Jamaica, and my most recent published writing is a biography of Jamaica's master potter, Cecil Archibald Baugh in The Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography (2016) published by Oxford University Press.