Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Takeshi Yasuda's throwing demonstration drew audiences (and panel members) from all over the conference.

I was interested to note that the theme that emerged from this conference was the ethics of making within the globalized economy. With so many Australian potters visiting Jingdezhen we are faced with an ethical dilemma about using the skills and resources of other, cheaper countries to fulfill our creative vision. This issue emerged in several of the panel discussions and was addressed by many of the keynote speakers.
Robyn Phelan talking on her residency at Jingdezhen. (photo coutesy of Renee Ferguson)
Janet de Boos, Bruce Mc Whinney, Virginia Scotchie, Shannon Garson, Elaine O Henry, Kim Dickey and Marek Cecula on the education panel chaired by Owen Rye. (photos coutesy of Renee Ferguson)
Janet de Boos made the interesting point that the ANU distance Education course uses a combination of real life teaching in the form of Summer and Winter schools and video resources of in the form of teaching films and that this has been a most effective method of teaching skills.

And the last word....

must go to Takeshi who talked about the power of language and made the point that by using the language of the visual arts ceramicists are doing themselves a disservice. Takeshi posited that we need a new language to express the peculiar mix of the tactile, psycological, political and visual that ceramics encompasses he said "When you think about design you have to forget about old languages....We have to develop our OWN language"

The next Australian Ceramics Triennale will be held in Adelaide in three years time.


Alan Peascod, drawings and bottle at the National Art School Gallery
Danie Mellor presented a thought-provoking speech on the political implications of the decoration on Spode transferware of the 19th century.

The intellectual presentations have been thought-provoking and (sometimes!) fascinating but one of the really valuable things we get from conferences is the opportunity to hear artists speaking honestly and directly from the heart about what they do and why. Geoff Crispin's talk about the hidden supporters of both his career and ceramics generally was one such talk.

The art world involves a lot of front and often our eyes are directed only to the successes, the prizes and the resolved final works. To see the process that a mature artist has undertaken emotionally ,physically and creatively is invaluable. While it is essential for us as artists to have the public persona when engaging with the world of commerce it is really important, especially to emerging artists to see a rounded picture of a creative life.

The tender and beautiful drawing on the interior of Merran Esson's piece.

Saturday, July 18, 2009


The feeding frenzy around Jackson Li's brushes- they are worth it!

Tania Rollond showed the crowd how to use things you will find in any art supplies store , conte crayons, oil pastels and chinese brush pens to create line and volumeon a two dimensional surface.

There was a big trade display, Max Walker from Walkers clay, Northcote pottery and Clayworks were all there to talk technology and new tools!
Vicki Grima editor of the Journal of Australian Ceramics a dynamic exciting woman and wonderful artists has created the edition to end all editions with her latest issue of The Journal of Australian Ceramics. For those who are attending the conference and those who can't come it is full of articles relating to and written by the presenters ....and double the usual size!

Takeshi Yasuda
Takeshi has a new website..........
Look here for a treat

Meet the Speakers- Fleur Schell

The dynamic West Australian artist Fleur Schell was at the Triennale spreading the word about SODA, the privately run clay working center with residency that she and her partner founded on the shore of the Indian Ocean in Fremantle, Western Australia. The SODA Residency includes a self contained unit, access to workshops and galleries in the SODA precinct and exposure to the lively and talented Western Australian artistic community. You can find out more on Fleur's website
Fleur Schell has been a prolific artist since graduating from Curtin University in Western Australia with a Degree in Visual Art, in 1997 she achieved First Class Honours in ceramics at the Hobart School of Art in Tasmania. Her oeuvre encompasses a series of sculptural work inspired by her daughter Heidi, functional ware, and doorbells and sound objects. She says....
"Using porcelain I love to make sentimental objects that are rich in detail, playful and familiar.

The common thread throughout my work is a connection to my own personal history. Having grown up with my mother who is a piano teacher, our home was filled with wonderful music. In 1997, with a fascination of musical instruments of all kinds I felt compelled to make a series of sound instruments. Using combinations of porcelain, metal, wood and found components these instruments explored the possibilities of sound through ceramic media in a way that encourages audience interaction on an audio, tactile and visual level. The principal aim was to create cast ceramic forms that were capable of generating sound, and which, through their aesthetic and textural quality, invited an intimate tactile response. "

Thursday, July 16, 2009


Today I saw Simone Fraser using a blowtorch on one of her monumental pots.....

Jan Guy did a fascinating talk on touch and the clash between the handmade pot and the industrial world. She talked about the sense of touch between mother and child being the first reference to an understandng of space.

And I was mesmerised by Lynda Draper's philosophical reflection on her journey as an artist from the constraints of suburban Sydney to the nostaligia triggered by the the abandoned abjects she found in her present home- a ramshackle wooden beach house.

This was one of those wonderful artists talks that illuminates the work and gives insight into both the creative process and the emotional journey of the artist.

When: 07.07.2009 - 25.07.2009
Where: Stella Downer Fine Art - Waterloo, Sydney

The Australian Ceramics Triennale begins....

The day has dawned blue and cold and the Australian Ceramics Triennale has begun......
More images, information and inspiration to come.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Go and see........"Pourers functional vessels" at Object

Forest Fungi -little jugs Shannon Garson

"Pourers- Functional Vessels" is showing at Object Gallery during the Australian Ceramics Triennale. With over 30 artists this exhibition promises to be a fascinating snapshot of contemporary studio pottery in Australia.
The artists include........
Sandra Black, Les Blakebrough, Louise Boscacci, Mollie Bosworth, Sandra Brown, Trisha Dean, Brigitte Enders, Phil Elson, Lesa Farrant, Susanne Fraser, Honor Freeman, Louise Fulton, Shannon Garson, Malcolm Greenwood, Vicki Grima, Tamara Hahn, Phil Hart, Patsy Hely, Jan Howlin, Marianne Huhn, Chiko Jones, Sandy Lockwood, Liz Low, William Lungas, Janet Mansfield, Keiko Matsui, Bruce Nuske, Cath O’Gorman, Simon Reece, Mel Robson, Owen Rye, Jane Sawyer, Steve Sheridan, Kenji Uranishi, Yi-Hui Wang, Gerry Wedd, Sharon Wessels, Andrew Widdis
.......And there is a great blog where you can find previews of the lovely pouring, tea-drinking, sake sipping, oil drizzling, gravy boating, vessels.

Pourers: functional vessels
11.07.2009 - 26.07.2009
Object Gallery - Surry Hills, Sydney

An introduction to "Tablewares- an international collection"

Jane Sawyer’s work is a contemporary interpretation of hakeme brushwork popularized through the Japanese mingei movement. She uses line in a loose gestural way which accentuates the soft form and also the very nature of creation of the pot.
The three "meager" elements, terracotta clay, white slip and clear glaze combine with the movement of the artists body and hands to create these powerful statements on the physical world. One thing I really admire about Jane Sawyer's work is that despite their abstract, sculptural quality these pots retain their original purpose by being usable tableware. In this way Sawyer’s pots are using form and brushwork to draw attention to the process of making but also in their tactility seduce the user to contemplate the process of using the pot.
Revel in the tactile joy of Sawyer's process in this film.........
See Jane Sawyer's work as part of a group show "Tablewares – an international collection"
This exhibition curated by Prue Venables and Gwyn Hansen Pigott promises to be fabulous with works by A great bunch of internationsl Clive Bowen , Takeshi Yasuda , Wally Keeler,
Richard Batterham, Jeff Oestreich, Linda Christianson, Chris Weaver and nine Australian artists.
“This is a selection of makers whose work excites us by its energy, inventiveness, and craftsmanship. Our aim is to celebrate and share with a broad audience the qualities of pots that are made to be used and handled and taken into our domestic lives – objects we get to know intimately, and whose qualities delight and nourish us over the years.” Gwyn Hanssen Pigott and Prue Venables
Tablewares – an international collection
14.07.2009 - 08.08.2009
Rex Irwin Art Dealer - Woollahra, Sydney

Watch out for...the Little People

Kenji Uranishi and Mel Robson met in 2006 when Kenji moved to Australia and found himself sharing studio space with Mel at Fusions Gallery in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley. One day Kenji decided to try his hand at slip casting, and made the little people as a bit of an experiment and a bit of fun. When Mel saw them, she couldn’t resist finding them a little something to wear, and created their outfits using scraps of decals she had in the studio. The Little People were born!

Kenji and Mel began photographing them in all kinds of places and scenarios, and documenting their adventures on the blog Sandwich Mountain. Since then they’ve been skinny dipping on the beaches of North QLD, fought off crocodiles in the Daintree, swanned around the Venice Biennale, visited ancient castles in Japan, walked down Pennsylvania Avenue with Barack and Michelle Obama.

And things are about to get more exciting as The Little’s prepare for a visit, en masse, to Sydney for the Australian Ceramics Triennale. From July 10th to 26th the whole gang will be at Object Gallery. They’ll be making regular forays out into old Sydney Town and around the conference venues, so keep your eyes out for them. You just never know where they might turn up…

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink- The Watery Contradictions in the work of Merran Esson

The unique, monumental sculptural works of Merran Esson will be on show during the Australian Ceramics Triennale. These evocative forms nag at the edge of Australian identity with their echoes and resonances of tanks, rusted cars and rural junk. Merran's work encompasses the domestic, industrial and rural landscape juxtaposing form and rich, layered surface.

I find it interesting that these works evoke country Australia so strongly yet the colours and glazed surface retain links to the humid coastal strip. Everything in this work leads to water. The corrugations of the tank like forms and almost rusted glazed surface remind the viewer of the constant search for this precious commodity in rural Australia at the same time as the blues and greens of the glazes and richness of the pallete remind one of the ocean.

07.07.2009 - 25.07.2009
Stella Downer Fine Art - Waterloo, Sydney

Merran Esson is also the head of the organizing committee for the Australian Ceramics Triennale and has spent many hours gathering information, contacting artists (which is a bit like herding kittens) and planning for the extravaganza!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Many Facets of Woodfiring Academic Owen Rye

Owen Rye is an Australian ceramicist and has worked in many aspects of ceramics including archaeology, teaching postgraduate students, making and exhibiting woodfired work internationally, delivering workshops in Australia and the USA on woodfiring, curating Australian survey exhibitions, organising conferences, and writing books and articles for many ceramics magazines in Australia, England, Germany, and USA. His work is in the ANG and most state collections and many regional collections in Australia, as well as public collections in USA, China, Korea, Germany, and Japan. He is a member of the International Academy of Ceramics.

He sent me this lovely photo of a woodstack for the blog as he happens to like them very much. The woodstack combined with Owen Rye's favourite pot are sure to get wood firer's hearts racing!

To get to know the surreal facts of Owen Rye's illustrious career you can read from a chinese website that he.....
"He covered the creation of history from the 1960s to the 21st century a long time, is still using an independent creators of the gesture, to continue in his studio in the text, the ceramic creation."
"Owen Rye can persist for decades creation, to herein is aware of the fun!"
Rye has also been described as:
"....one of the very few ceramists who is equally articulate about clay as he is with it. He seems especially fascinated by an ongoing conundrum: information about his art and craft continually leads him to simultaneous states of understanding and mystification – a condition he perceives as delight. "
Jack Troy, Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, USA June 9, 2007

Owen Rye is moderating what promises to be a lively discussion on education at the Australian Ceramics Triennale, featuring Janet Deboos, Bruce McWhinney and Shannon Garson from Australia, and Elaine Henry and Kim Dickie from the USA, this panel will examine issues such as the past and future of Australian ceramics; a comparison of the current state of ceramics in the USA and Australia; the role of institutions in ceramic education, workshops, residencies, apprenticeships and other ways of learning, and new methods of communication and their role in education.
Panel members will not give talks as such – discussion will focus on questions they consider important, and on questions raised by audience participants.
Education panel: Monday the 20th July

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A view from the studio with- Avital Sheffer

"I walk the 55 steps between home and studio through the orchard, trying not to lose that fleeting state between sleep and wakefulness, where ideas emerge and solutions are found. There's always something ripe for the picking, now it's citrus, rolinia, jaboticaba, pecan, star fruit time. Planting trees is a good remedy for homesickness, I literally had to plant hundreds of trees before I began to feel at home in Australia .

A female python is a permanent resident in and around my studio. She is four meters long and as thick as my arm. Early this year, brooding on eggs, fiercely and tenderly protecting them, she never lost physical touch with the eggs for three months. The moment the first egg hatched - she left, emaciated an exhausted. She is back now, glamorous and formidable, some days I have to negotiate entering the studio as she is languidly draped across the steps and would not budge. In some mysterious way that escapes my reasoning this glorious creature, coiled on the bedrock of my imaginings, fertilizes my work. Archetypal, primal forms, mythologies and secrets are at the heart of my work."

These mysterious objects are the sculptures of Australian ceramicist Avital Sheffer.

Avital's forms contain layers of meaning and keep revealing themselves in a process akin to archeaology, what at first seem like an contemporary anthropological vessels, shift to reveal a sarcophagus, which in turn becomes an ancient religous artifact. These forms utilize the playful aspects of the movement, overlaying meaning between the form and the surface in a beautiful, poetic way.
She says:
"My new work investigates how notions of the body, symbolised, and worshiped, travelled from prehistoric to contemporary times.

Ancient female figurines encapsulate beliefs, desires and fears that are deeply etched in the human psyche. The earliest artefacts expressing fecundity and beauty embody an inherent conflict between paganism, fetishism and the monotheistic religions that is still at play today.
From amulets through totems to the abstract notion of the divine, I’m intrigued by the shared origins of these seemingly antagonistic worlds captured in those elemental forms. I magnify and stretch my vessels in search of line, volume, form and surface so that they evoke the enigmatic primal feminine principle." (from Avital Sheffer's website)

Where to see:

White Heat - Australian Ceramics Association Exhibition

When: 12.06.2009 - 19.07.2009

Where: Manly Art Gallery & Museum - Manly

Avital Sheffer -Terra Anima

Where: Robin Gibson Gallery - Darlinghurst www.robingibson.net

When: 18.07.2009 - 12.08.2009

Heated Words

An exhibition of sculptural works by five woman artists ,curated by Bob Connery. Works inspired by works of prose, poetry or film. Artists: Avital Sheffer, Deb Cocks, Lisa Gair, Catherine Lane , Stephanie Outridge-Field

Where: Fusions Gallery - Brisbane

When: 24.7.2009 - 25.8.2009

Deep Earth - A touring exhibition to Regional Galleries

Where: Next at Glasshouse Art Gallery - Port Macquarie

When: 6.8.2009 - 27.9.2009

Monday, June 29, 2009

Come and see... Fiona Fell

An exhibtion of new work from Brian Doar, Steve Harrison, Gerry Wedd and Fiona Fell is opening on Friday the 7th of Jully at Legge Gallery.

Fiona Fell has been working with the figure for many years. Her sculptures tap into a collective subconscious where mermaids and two headed dogs roam the earth. For more on Fiona have a loook at this little interview.........

New Ceramic work by Brian Doar, Fiona Fell, Steve Harrison, Gerry Wedd
07.07.2009 - 25.07.2009
Legge Gallery - Redfern, Sydney

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Meet the Speakers- Ben Richardson

Ben Richardson's woodfired vessels are a distillation of the beautiful, rugged environment of his south-east Tasmanian home.

The process for Ben begins with collecting the clay and grinding local rocks for oxides. He chops black wattle for woodfirng. Ben's commitment to place and sensitivity to materials are evident in the stark beautiful forms he produces.

Ben Richardson is a speaker at the Australian Ceramics Triennale and will be showing his film "Ben Richardson- working fire" made by visual arts lecturer and academic Glen Dunn as part of his presentation. There is so much to love about this poetic evocation of a creative journey. From the southern Tasmanian landscapes and skies through to the simple potter's pleasures of stacking the kiln and magical transformation of wet clay to fired form. Do yourself a favor and watch this.....
Ben Richardson. Working Fire. Feature. from Glen Dunn on Vimeo.

Ben will be speaking on Saturday the 19th of July in the afternoon session.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Meet the Speakers- Simone Fraser

"I want my work to have a beauty that speaks for itself. I want the viewer to experience the mystery within the surface, the balance and proportion of the form and the harmony that each piece engenders." from Simone Fraser's website

Australian ceramicist Simone Fraser will be speaking at the Australian Ceramics Triennale. Fraser's vessels encompass both the delicate and the muscular with their strongly thrown forms and intricate, sometimes gold encrusted surfaces. References to history, nature and a material sensuality combine in these intriguing vessels where examination draws you into the surface, across the the form revealing layers of colour and texture, the sense of hidden mystery about to be revealled nagging at the edge of conciousness, then slipping away through sheer delight in the object.

"While viewing her work it is too simplistic to attribute the artist's motivation to the mimicking of age-encrusted surfaces. Her surfaces - colour and texture - are new; a deliberate refinement based on the artist's unique aesthetic judgement. Her colours and textures have no reference point, no equivalent in ancient ceramics. In this sense her work is contemporary. At the same time she has chosen to develop forms that are referential to the vessel. "
"Simone Fraser's Vessels Forms" by Alan Peascod
Article from: Ceramics Art and Perception No. 60 2005 pp 47-49

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A view from the studio with- Mel Robson

"My studio is the underneath of my home, a big old rambling QLD'er. It overlooks my back garden (a work in progress) and always distracts me from the job at hand, especially during winter when my hands are numb from swirling buckets of slip and I spy a little sunny spot out there to sit in, or a patch that needs weeding, or a seedling that needs watering, or some rocket that needs munching!"

Mel Robson is a Brisbane based ceramicist exploring memory, nostalgia and the stories embedded in everyday objects. Her slip cast, vessels and conceptual installations utilizing water cut old plates can be seen at 3 group exhibitions during the Australian Ceramics Triennale.

White Heat - Australian Ceramics Association Exhibition
12.06.2009 - 19.07.2009
Manly Art Gallery & Museum - Manly

Ceramic Revisions
30.06.2009 - 26.07.2009
Brenda May Gallery - Waterloo, Sydney
Pourers: functional vessels
11.07.2009 - 26.07.2009
Object Gallery - Surry Hills, Sydney

Meet the Speakers- the OTHER Kim Won Seok

You may have been surprised to find that the artist living in Australia by the name of Kim Won Seok is a professor at Kongju National University, I was surprised also!

Except that the Australian Kim Won Seok is not teaching in South Korea. We have the excellent fortune to have not one but TWO Kim Won Seok's attending the Australian Ceramics Triennale. The first Kim won Seok is the artist I have referred to in a previous post who will be demonstrating his beautiful Punchong ware.
The second is ......
Kim Won Seok, professor at Kongju National University, South Korea.

He will present a talk about Contemporary Korean ceramics during the morning session on Saturday the 18th of July.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Meet the Speakers- Tania Rollond

I once read a comment that said the novel is the best way we have of talking about ourselves. I believe that art is another way we have of talking about ourselves.

Contemporary craft in Australia illuminates and articulates our identity. Traditionally "The Bush" (as everywhere not in the city is known) has been a place of harsh landscapes and heroic sweaty, masculine types subduing or being beaten down by the unrelenting climate and isolation. Contemporary ceramicists are articulating the bush as a lyrical, poetic place of stillness, contemplation and subtlety.

Tania Rollond has been exploring landscape and memory for many years in her beautiful ceramics. Her latest work is a series of vessels. They reference human/nature interaction in their poetic titles such as "Bottle - An Autumn Crossing" and "Bottle - Rain & Light, Coming and Going" Rollond abstracts the landscape creating a meditation on our place in the land. This work is like a membrane, a conduit between culture and nature. Through Rollond's vessels the bush is redefined as a place of inspiration, and mystery not the be subdued or fought against but to be marvelled at. Rollond says that her work "do(es) not directly imitate nature, but parallel(s) its dynamics."

Tania Rollond is speaking and demonstrating at the Australian Ceramics
Triennale 16th -20th of July.

Her work is part of a group exhibition "Conversations"
15.07.2009 - 15.08.2009
Sabbia Gallery - Surry Hills, Sydney

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Meet the Speakers- Kim Won Seok

Kim Won Seok is a professor at Kongju National University,(actually he is not a professor at the kongju university see here) South Korea, and will be speaking at the Australian Ceramics Triennale on contemporary Korean ceramics.

Kim Won Seok's gestural contempoary vessels reference tradition korean Punchong ware.
"In conversation with Kim it becomes apparent that an understanding of Korean ceramic history is fundamental to understanding his work. It provides the keys to its meaning. He has chosen, using a modern context, to draw upon his cultural traditions, rich with historical resonance, to provide the meaning in his own work and to build up artifacts that function on many levels. Won Seok Kim uses the dark claybody and celadon glazes that characterised Korean wares of the 15th century and, in particular, his work makes its strongest reference to the style of work called punch'ong. In doing this he has taken the turning point in Korea's history, a crossroad between two dynasties, two religions and two approaches to the potters' art as his starting point. "
(From an article by Gale Leake "Won Seok Kim's Australian Punch'ong Ware" published in Ceramics Art and Perception")

Kim Won Seok will be speaking at the Australian Ceramics Triennale on Saturday July the 18th.

Come and see.....Penny Byrne (and your eyes will pop out of your head!)

Artist: Penny Byrne
Title: If only Gay Sex caused Global Warming mused Mother Earth
Date: 2007
Materials: vintage ceramic figure group, tacks, lead, metal nails, epoxy resin, epoxy putty, plastic, re-touching medium, powder pigments.
Size: 80 x 40 x 40cm
Photographer: Courtesy of the artist and Sullivan + Strumpf Fine Art
Private Collection.

This eye-popping piece is created by Australian artist Penny Byrne. Mild mannered art conservator by day Penny becomes destroyer/creator of Dresden figurines, myths, ballerinas and governments by night as she uses the tools of her trade to create these wicked, funny sculptures.

Penny Byrne, George and Laura simply adore the War on Terror

Byrne uses originals beyond repair but her conservation background kicks in when it comes to her creations "I won't destroy important decorative art," she says. "But the vintage ones, which are poor copies of the original, I think they're just asking for trouble." (from an article by Joyce Morgan in the Sydney Morning Herald, March 6, 2007)
I couldn't agree more!

Penny Byrne is part of the "White Heat" exhibition at the Australian Ceramics Triennale.

Curated by Julie Bartholemew "White Heat" explores
"Transformative practices that move beyond the object of utility, often take risks that propel the maker and viewer into unfamiliar territory. The exhibition titled White Heat offers a space for discourses of social, political and cultural concern."

White Heat - Australian Ceramics Association Exhibition
12.06.2009 - 19.07.2009
Manly Art Gallery & Museum - Manly