Tell us about the Creative Director’s Choice Exhibition.
I’ve chosen seven people for this exhibition. I think seven is a good number for this space. Each of these artists are people whose work I’ve followed for a long time, and really enjoyed watching the scope of how they approach their practice, and how their work reflects their personality. It’s work that I really admire. There are many many fantastic ceramic artists in Australia
I think all this work is really contemporary, but there is no theme for the exhibition. It’s just people who I really admire and respect.
I wasn’t looking for any particular style. I’m just looking for an individual approach to actually working with the material in an inventive way. There are some methods in common, but I think there’s something about a person sitting with the clay material and just exploring it that is reflected really strongly in these pieces of work. I feel each person has taken on a great challenge with the material. They may have started with a traditional technique, but they’ve actually extended it into a way of working that’s become very
much their own.
It’s interesting because they are working in the field of ceramics but there are influences of other visual approaches to things. There is architecture (Susan Robey is an architect), painting (Helen Fuller is a painter who has only recently come to ceramics). Each is working in a unique way that reflects their own life experiences.
How does this exhibition in Gallery Two compliment or fit in with HyperClay and Vitrify?
I think Vitrify and Hyperclay are exhibitions of work of a very high standard by very developed artists in their field. Both of these exhibitions provide an opportunity to include some wonderful work in this whole JamFactory-wide celebration of ceramics.
These exhibitions are timed to coincide with the upcoming Ceramics Conference in Adelaide. Can you elaborate on that?
Yes, the ceramics conference is a wonderful opportunity to showcase the amazing variety of ceramics that are made here in Australia. We have these fantastic gallery spaces here and so it’s an opportunity for all of the ceramic artists who are coming to South Australia for the conference to see work of this high quality. The JamFactory is playing a very particular role in showcasing this level of work.
You are also on the judging panel for Vitrify. Can you tell us about the award and the exhibition?
From a very highly competitive field, numerous ceramic artists entered from all over Australia and we, the three judges, Noel Franklin, Robert Reason and myself, poured over the entries. We had many images to look at and eventually decided on Stephen Bird, Tania Rolland, Neville French and Julie Bartholomew as the finalists. Three from NSW and Neville French is from Victoria. We chose them on the quality of their work, the inventiveness of their approach and also on the description of what they were planning to do should they be awarded a place in the final. Each had to provide a proposal of what they would create for a joint exhibition.
The three judges are all from different backgrounds; Noel Franklin is head of the School of art in Hobart, Robert Reason is the Curator of European and Australian Decorative Arts in the Art Gallery of South Australia, and I’m a Ceramic Artist and I’ve been a teacher for thirty years, so we all come from different backgrounds but we all have a strong love of ceramic art, and so working together as a team has been very interesting. The quality of work that’s been sent in for the final is very high and diverse. Just having this first initial look it’s going to be a very tough competition to decide who will be the final winner.
The quality, the technical expertise, the inventiveness and the personality in each of the artist’s work is quite extraordinary, so it’s yet another exciting exhibition here at JamFactory.
Can you tell us about the artists selected?
Tania Rolland’s work has a very graphic quality. There is a beautiful essence of drawing and its integration with ceramic form and materials. The work of Neville French has a soft sculptural sort of ethereal landscape quality to it, reflecting his inspiration of the landscape at Lake Mungo. Both Tania and Neville’s work is very strong and interesting.
Julie Bartholomew’s work is about showcasing a hundred distinct critically endangered Australian flowers. These flowers are shaped from white porcelain and held in a petri-dish-like container, suspended off the floor. They just make you want to explore, and also reflect the sadness that all these plants are getting lost. It’s almost as if the red glaze they are sitting in is like blood and there’s something leaking away. It’s very strong and poignant as an installation.
Stephen’s work is extraordinary. It makes reference to the European ceramic traditions that relate to his origins in North Staffordshire in the UK. Stephen uses humor and propaganda, and depicts meaningless violence to make observations about issues including politics, cultural imperialism and the global power struggle. It’s extraordinary work! For example, the paint tray and a whole collection of objects that are so beautifully made that they look like you could just pick them up and use them. It’s technically very impressive, but the underlying story behind it is also quite intriguing and challenging.
Vitrify is showing at JamFactory in CollectorSpace and the Showroom on level one until 1 October, with the winner being announced Friday 28 September.