Sunday, 11 September 2011


I am inspired by other artist’s work and nature. I enjoy visiting galleries to see artworks. I particularly respond to a synthesis of concept and technical competence. Of others ceramics I am critical and analytical, I usually want to understand how it was made. I have seen the collection at Manly Gallery, and once I was privileged to be shown into the storeroom, it is an extensive collection, in fact a comprehensive history of Australian ceramics. I found it interesting to see the development of individuals work as the collection included a number of examples of some artists. Of course I would like to exhibit there too, especially with so many others who will be there too.

In terms of nature my ceramics responded to a bush environment about twenty years ago, and more recently to my move to the coast. I have always been interested in lines, textures and patterns observed in the natural environment, the relationship between micro and macro environments, such as the lines of waves in the sea, the ripples in the sand at low tide and the delicate lines around shells.

Other things have also inspired me, communication was a focus in the scrolls which are printed in script and shown in an earlier blog. I used different written scripts and calligraphy wanting to draw attention to their beauty at a time when so much is digital. My first scrolls were bound and knotted referring to the difficulties of communication we sometimes face, especially with different languages and conversely with secrets tightly kept.

Some of the communication pieces ar fine porcelain with printing on them, I wrote about these in a previous blog. For some reason I always push my material to its limit, I expect, and get breakages in pursuit of thinness and transparency! This focus on communication is ongoing in my work.

I have been practicing ceramics for over twenty years, I went to Sydney College of the Arts then did a Masters at the University of Newcastle. I live in Newcastle and I am involved in Newcastle Studio Potters which has Back to Back Galleries and a studio in inner city Newcastle, it’s a great community group. I have a studio in Newcastle Art Space where about thirty artists work, my space is 3.7 x 3.7 x 3.7, which means I have to put things away or it’s a disaster.

I am a shy promoter of my own work, which goes with my personality. But asked the question I am prodding (to use Dee’s word) myself to tell you about my exhibitions. I have been exhibiting for some time, mostly locally, Newcastle is quite arts orientated, with a number of good galleries and four regional galleries in the Hunter. This year I have exhibited in Melbourne and I currently have some works at Kerrie Lowe Gallery in Newtown. I was delighted to get into the Blake Prize exhibition last year, my entry being the only ceramic work. In April this year I won the Muswellbrook Open Art Award (Ceramics), its worth $5000, so get in and apply, next time is 2012.

To answer why I do ceramics my first response is that I am passionate about it, obsessive. When I am making I lose a sense of time, I feel totally absorbed. Sometimes when I feel bad, irritable, I find that as soon as I start making art I feel better. It keeps a balance in my life.

I was brought up seeing my mother and my aunt work with clay, but as a teenager I took no interest at all. … I think decades on its time for me to acknowledge their influence. My aunt, Betty Crombie worked as a pottery teacher for the Flying Arts School for a few years, it took classes to remote outback communities. (see article Pottery in Australia vol 18, no.2, Oct 1979) and she volunteered with Q.P.A for years.

My mother was a foundation member of the Willoughby Workshop Arts Centre, she has worked with clay for as long as I can remember. She exhibited ceramics in Sculpture by the Sea in Bondi in 09, and in Sculpture by the Sea in Aarhus , Denmark this year. She currently has an exhibit in Strand Ephemera in Townsville. She turns ninety next week! An image might get into the next Australian Ceramics journal.

I have struggled with the technicalities of blogging, but it is good fun and its been great to discuss a few things, and see and read how others are doing their art, being in the exhibition would be a great opportunity to meet some of the other bloggers, and continue the dialogue.


1 comment:

  1. Hello Jan,
    How marvelous to ‘meet’ a fellow SCA alumna. How much did / does your training there influence your response to / search for the ‘synthesis of concept and technical competence’ I wonder.

    Thanks for overcoming your shyness to tell us about your work and exhibitions – interesting (in light of shyness) that a lot of your work is about communication. Congratulations on the Blake (the only ceramic work – good on you!) and Musswelbrook prizes – what was your winning work in that case?

    I have been revisiting your earlier posts about lithophanes and tools – I particularly love the green(ish) fish – such a feeling of movement and interestingly (given your enthusiasm for tools) a real sense of the tool you used. You’ve shown us detail shots but I’m wondering, what is the context for these surfaces? Are they all wall pieces or are some of them to be held?

    I loved reading of your obsessive passion for clay – it really does seem to be a common denominator whether we call ourselves potter, ceramicist, artist whatever – the love of the material and its ability to absorb / transport. I just wrote in a comment to Jo that for me the writing informs the making – but the same also applies – without the making I wonder what I would have to write about – and after all of the ‘blood from a stone’ activity of writing it really is nice to get in the zone as it were.

    And thank you for telling us about your mother – man, I want to still be making when I’m ninety – to never retire! Just like Louise Bourgeois. Wonderful.

    Thanks again