Simple Virtues ‘The Art of Function, the Function of Art’


In the early 2000s I was coming to the end of a curatorial project which involved chaperoning an international touring exhibition of contemporary Indonesian art around Australia. I had spent the last few years going to and from Indonesia, initially on an Asialink residency, researching, raising funds, and generally just doing whatever it took to get 'AWAS! Contemporary Art from Indonesia' seen by…


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Exhibition Review


Already seen in Vietnam and scheduled to be exhibited in Singapore from 19 April to 7 May 2007, Stephen Bowers, the curator of A Secret History of Blue and White, contrasts work from five Australian ceramic artists — Stephen Benwell, Robin Best, Bronwyn Kemp, Vipoo Srivalasa and Gerry Wedd — with that great body of objects, spanning time and cultures, which constitute the legacy of blue and white…


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Across The Ditch


Introduction This chapter might be expected to examine the extensive web of personal and professional connections between the ceramics communities of New Zealand and Australia in the 1950s and 1960s, that period when the modern studio pottery movement was born. Unfortunately this is not really possible, as there actually were quite few. What remains is a striking similarity in the way ceramics…


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Susan Frost


In her memoir Taken from the Back Row, Cosmopolitan.com editor Amy Odell describes being interviewed for a position as a fashion writer by the somewhat terrifying personage of Vogue's legendary editor, Anna Wintour. Searching around for tips, Odell was informed that Wintour was 'all about colour', and so whatever she did she should avoid wearing black. In the end she chose to wear a cream dress…


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Some comments on the work of Gwyn Hanssen Pigott


It seems that we have lost some wonderful women from the ceramics world of late. So much of the early history of ceramics as part of the craft movement in Australia is about women — as makers but  also as editors and gallery owners and teachers and organisers. The blokes often got the lions share of attention, and a lot of the top jobs, but Gwyn ended her innings at the very top. She did what no…


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Gwyn Hanssen Pigott


“Instead, the things ... seep deliberately into one’s attention. They start vaguely, as little more than silhouettes, a vibration of one low colour against another. Gradually they ‘develop’ on the eye, and one begins to grasp their internal relationships: how articulate the subtle sequence of tones may be, in a form that once looked flat and brown; how many colours may be contained, as dusty…


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Filthy Lucre: how money has helped to shape Australian ceramics over the past half century


“The best things in life are free But you can keep them for the birds and bees Now gimme money (that’s what I want) ”— Money (that’s what I want), Gordy/Bradford 1959 Nostalgia can be comforting, but it’s all too easy to wallow in a past that was really more like the present than one likes to think. The Gordy/Bradford song was playing around the time Pottery in Australia was first published in…


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Vale – David Boyd 1924 -2011


David Fielding Gough Boyd was the fourth child of the famous Australian ceramicist (William) Merric Boyd and Doris (nee Gough) Boyd. He grew up in the family enclave known as Open Country, in the suburb of Murrumbeena, which was (then) on the outskirts of Melbourne. His childhood was unconventional, bohemian and artistically rich. Hermia Boyd and David Boyd, Murrumbeena, 1959 All the Boyd…


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A Potter’s Tale


Everybody has a story to tell and potters are no exception. Before the days of tweets and blogs, telling that story to a wider audience meant going into print. In most cases this meant writing an article for a ceramics magazine, but some potters managed to go one better than this and have a book published. These books mostly concentrated on aspects of materials or technique, but occasionally a…


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Another Still Life


In 1997, together with Suzi Attiwill, I curated an exhibition held at West Space Gallery in Melbourne. The purpose of the exhibition, Curated, was to examine what curators did, as what curators were doing seemed to be gaining ever greater prominence in the art world, at times even eclipsing the role of the artist. This was especially noticeable in the contemporary arts but was also being seen in…


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Vale – Shiga Shigeo 1928-2011


With the passing of Shiga Shigeo, Australian ceramics has lost a great and long-standing friend. There will be many tributes from those who knew him intimately, and these few words are simply to acknowledge the presence, and now the absence, of a Zen larrikin who found, at least for a time, a second home in Australia. Photo reprinted from Pottery in Australia Vol 14, No 1, Autumn, 1975, page 5 In…


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Vale – Paul Soldner 1921 – 2011


In early January 2011, Paul Soldner, one of the greats of American ceramics, passed away at his home in Claremont, California. He was eighty- nine. Born in 1921 into a family of Midwest Mennonite Christians, Soldner’s interest in art was sparked by his wartime experiences in the army medical corps, where, to quote Jori Finkel writing of Soldner in the Los Angeles Times, he saw ... “beauty…


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Perspective


“I cross the room like a dancing architect A daddy waltz on the tops of my shoes ...”— Don’t Respond, She Can Tell from Interbabe Concern by Scott Miller/Loud Family, 1996 Alias Records Let’s face it – architects are cool. They wear good clothes, have distinctive taste in spectacles and build fabulous, titanium clad post-modernist cathedrals to art which rejuvenate entire cities. Even in the…


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The Flying Scotsman


Alex Leckie’s invitation (detail), Macquarie Galleries Sydney exhibition, 17–27 July, 1963 The last time Alex Leckie’s name was mentioned in dispatches, prior to news of his passing earlier this year, was in relation to the proposal in 2008 to close the ceramics department of the Glasgow School of Art. Leckie’s name was inextricably linked to this institution. It was where he had begun studying…


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Bennetts Magill Pottery Pty Ltd – a living history


Charles (Chas) Bennett (seated), William Charles Bennett (left) and William Reginald Bennett (right), circa 1912Photos: courtesy Mortlock Library, South Australia Currently in its fifth generation of family ownership, Bennetts Magill Pottery in Adelaide provides one of the last remaining glimpses into the small- to medium-size manufactory that was the mainstay of Australian ceramics throughout…


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A Family Affair – the Boyds and the History of Australian Ceramics


Merric Boyd, Koala, 1915, earthenware; Jug, 1926, earthenware; Jar with Gumnut, 1937, earthenware. All works collection of Shepparton Art Gallery, Victoria; photo: courtesy Shepparton Art Gallery If Australia can lay claim to having an artistic dynasty, it is to be found in the Boyds. This country has produced many worthy artists but there is no other family that can boast members who rose to…


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And then came Funk


Introduction This is an essay about the introduction of funk ceramics into Australia and the affinity this work found in the social, artistic and political environment of Adelaide in the late 1960s and 1970s. For those not familiar with the term, funk ceramics describes sculptural work that combines a Pop Art sensibility with the history of ceramics as a decorative art. At its inception it could…


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FREE RADICALS: the rhetoric of innovation in contemporary ceramics


The title of this talk is taken from the chemical term for a molecule or atom in a highly reactive state. Free radical reactions are apparently quite common, with combustion being an example that is particularly useful to potters, but the mental picture one is likely to form on hearing the term probably has more to do with alternative health supplements. If you take this particular extract or…


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A Review


The history of figurative ceramics is marked both by its antiquity and the inherent limitations of the material. Clay has the advantage of being malleable, abundant and virtually free, but it also has distinct drawbacks when used for sculptural purposes. It must be kept moist in order to be modelled but moist clay has limited mechanical strength. This can be overcome by making the piece thicker…


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A State of Flux: The Future of Australian Ceramics Education


Appearing under the banner 'Scotland's Last Ceramics Course to Close', the March 2008 article from the Glasgow Sunday Herald discussed the imminent demise of ceramics at the Glasgow School of Art. Responding to concerns raised by current students, ex-students and staff – one of whom was the potter Alex Leckie, an influential figure who worked in South Australia as far back as the late 1950s – the…


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