To ‘make a figure’ poses a lot of problems. Painted or sculpted, the flow of the process starts more easily than it ends, and the big problem is when to make the decision. David Freedberg refers to Attic herms, lumps of rock that bear sufficient relationship to heads to be placed on columns and worshipped as gods. They were forms given by the unknown to humans, indicating our special place by their almost human-ness. But if they resembled human form too closely they had no divinity. By contrast the uncanniness of the gaze of the too-realistic doll is well-known and try cutting a photograph of someone you love in half. While the figure is ‘unfinished’ it continues in its becoming, like the herm, in our imagination and feeling. It is open to meaning.
Peisley’s figures are made for the hand by the hand. Physical remembrances, they are like rosary beads that turn over in your fingers, making prayers of transformation or holding, protecting or moving. Their physical being is at once finished – baked in the kiln and glazed – and unfinished, contingent, provisional; the head becomes a mantle, the surface erupts in smooth lumps, the form changes. Their whiteness belongs to the unknown, and they remind us of our being.
Charles Williams 2021