Understory

 

Toni Warburton reviews The Narrative Knot: stories in ceramics

{xtypo_quote}We are in truth emigrants who have not yet founded our homeland.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, 1939
{/xtypo_quote}

Some stories can start in the middle or the end and never find their beginnings. Others may be cryptic and contain a secret history of this or that. A poem from the Nahuatl language of the Aztecs tells of the potter as “one who teaches the clay to lie so that it will learn to take countless shapes”, (Leon Portilla Miguel, trans. Jack Emory Davis, Aztec Thought and Culture: a Study of the Nahuatl Mind, University of Oklahoma Press). In the summer of 2011–12, for The Narrative Knot: Stories in Ceramics, curator and raconteur in clay Gerry Wedd convened an exhibition of works in a plurality of ceramic media and genres that unfolded like an anthology of experimental tales, with each author disclosing different ways of becoming.

On Kayimai country, Manly Regional Art Gallery and Museum is sited in the lee of a sandstone point overlooking Cannalgal, (Manly Cove) in Sydney Harbour. The Kayimai were the first indigenous peoples to meet the English settlers in Sydney Harbour. (Early British contact with the aborigines of north harbour and north head; Compiled by Shelagh Champion OAM and George Champion OAM, with assistance from Garry Stewart, Jim Boyce and Julie Werner. Manly, Warringah and Pittwater Historical Society Inc, May 2008.)

Manly Museum is known for its archive of iconic bathing suits and beach paraphernalia and its commitment to developing and interpreting its permanent collection of contemporary Australian ceramic art. Since 1989, curators Sarah Johnson and Katherine Roberts have worked with The Australian Ceramics Association’s guest curators to host its biennial members’ exhibition.

Four harbour crossings on Manly ferries (the Narrabeen, Queenscliff, Collaroy and Freshwater) took me to the Knot in different situations: a crowded opening – a book launch, artists’ floor talks – readings, a solitary contemplation – experimental conjectures, and a closing party to celebrate the 50th year of publishing The Journal of Australian Ceramics – book club review.

Wedd’s catalogue essay and comments by the artists provide context and back-stories for the work. Wedd asserts that the ceramic medium is the message. He notes that objects made with media associated with craft genres embody tales of time and making processes. Prescience to these rhythms is “the craftsmanship of risk” according to wood turner and writer David Pye.

Walter Benjamin says, an authentic tale contains a message and is informed by experience. He writes, “Thus traces of the storyteller cling to the story the way the handprints of the potter cling to the clay vessel.” (http://slought.org/)

Genre, montage, narrative

The artists’ terms of engagement with pottery traditions, craft and techniques were enlivened and informed with ideas and genres associated with contemporary art practices such as installation, mimesis, figuration, the everyday, formlessness, abstraction, decoration and performance.

Neither content nor technique was proscribed in the artists’ brief. Narrative is a form not a subject, and ceramics is a condition of media. It occurs to me that Wedd’s title might be punning on the Australian slang of denoting a negative by announcing a positive: “your work is so imbued with narrative … not!” So it interested me to look at some of the ways that the twenty six participating artists used narrative in the creation and installation of their ceramic objects, pots, figurines, and shards, some combined with other media, to effectively re-author genres.

Indeed one could experience the overall installation of The Knot as a genre-jolting montage, a kind of topology of grafted and cloned practices and habits of ceramic media and history that I encountered as follows: representations of found, natural and everyday objects; bowls, vases, jars, vessels, containers, figurines and readymade teacups; and objects, fragments, lumps, and geometric and organic forms. The clay medium was hand modelled, pinched, slip cast, wheel thrown, jiggered, threaded, stacked. Forms were made from porcelain, bone china, stoneware, and earthenware, with surfaces textured, stained, polished, painted, gilded, patterned, incised, inscribed, and printed with decals of patterns or script. Works were glazed clear, polychrome, monochrome with fluxes, ash, and salt and fired in reduction or oxidation with electricity, wood or gas.

Walking around this slightly chaotic show of 26 small installations, I felt the effect to be most compelling where artists had created the installation contexts for their work with purpose-built benches, tables, shelves, colour specifications, media, sound, mise-en-scene.

One envisions future ventures with a design budget that would allow for choices about wall and plinth colour and tone and viewing heights when stock gallery plinths are used. Particular colours can shift mood and attention from one room or grouping of objects to the next and serve to enhance contrasts and continuities in meaning and genre. Such considerations are relevant to this kind of media-specific ceramics show, where artists use installation to enlist different physical and conceptual frameworks and work across a range of genres. Understanding of content should inform the placement of work rather than a form of interior decoration based solely on appearances of visual affinity.

An experimental response to ceramics as a minor art

My way of looking at these somewhat elusive stories in ceramic was experimental. Philosopher Gilles Deleuze and his collaborator, psychoanalyst Felix Guatarri, were inspired by the ideas of composer John Cage to suggest that as an alternative to interpretation, experimental responses can keep outcomes open.

The refractory resistance of ceramics to bulk up to monumental proportions and each artist’s insistence on tuning the medium to their own wave length, run parallel to productive ideas about the communicative powers of minor languages and minor literature developed by Deleuze and Guatarri from their close reading of Kafka. (http://complit.berkeley.edu/)

The first characteristic of ceramics as a minor art is that, like a minor literature, it can dissolve cultural boundaries, pull the ground out from under itself, decode the status quo and create escape routes. Deleuze and Guattari ask … “How to become the nomad and the immigrant and the gypsy of our own language?”

Ceramic media can always break free of dominant codes and create new pathways. Innovation arises from experimentation with technological breakthroughs. Research and development in, for example, wood, salt and soda firing, kilns, CAD design and production, decals, and digital temperature controls, enable artists working with ceramics to not only control outcomes but also intervene and broker creatively empowered relationships with timing, chance and accident.

The second characteristic of a minor literature, or of thinking about ceramics as a minor art, is that every individual matter is immediately plugged into the political. Each utterance and act of producing work in the ceramic medium in this show is plainly political from a range of perspectives. Except for bricks, pavers and dental products, there is a lack of ceramic manufacturing industries in Australia. Mediated by the real politic of slow time, Australian contemporary ceramic art defaults from mass production’s demands for exact replication and excess.

The third characteristic of a minor literature is a collective arrangement of utterance. As a group exhibition, The Narrative Knot, Stories in Ceramics creates a space to look at objects understood by a group through the use of common themes and genres. Whilst social and technological histories of the uses of ceramics offer artists scope for contextual and personal invention, the laws of physics are, for ceramics, like the rules of grammar for languages.

As researchers in material science, technology and craft reveal deep knowledge about these laws, informed application becomes part of an evolving syntax as ceramic art continues to generate tensors and reinvent itself as new media. This radicalises the implications of responding to contemporary ceramics practice as a minor art form. It generates its own experimental discourse around ceramic objects within the broader categories of contemporary art and craft practice.

Cinema captures the gaze to re-enact spatial temporal and acoustic sensations. Significant objects can loom large for a moment on the screen. In theatre, meaningful props sustain the real time of the drama but are not seen close up. However, in the space of the art gallery, things that artists have made or placed can be seen in concert with other things by other artists and kept in view.

Artworks may endure sustained scrutiny and be re-authored by a bricolaging viewer, selecting for example, as I have done for this article, cropped close up images. Through the disjuncture of montage the viewer can be transported into realms of ideas where themes assert difference and rupture assumptions.

Abstraction, scale, fire

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The organic abstract volumes of Robyn Phelan’s wall mounted Cloud Dreaming Game refute representation. Dimpled from fingertips, undulating ceramic surfaces shadowed in pale tones of blue and grey soften into reveries.

Scattered over a burnt orange wall, the shattered debris of Mirta Ouro’s charcoal array curiously invokes the indeterminate scale of a fractal aerial map of ruination caused by fire. Bite-sized, industrially moulded breakfast cereal shapes dipped in liquid clay, fired hard and black in sawdust, appear as distant fragments of burnt buildings.

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Shards, in the archaeological sense, are a measure of proportion, a kind of fractal indicator of something more. Broken into shards, a ceramic object can be puzzled back to form but it will always carry the particular shock pattern of its fragmentation.

Ouro’s fabricated shards are curiously entropic, signifying an incomplete process, a destructive episode in a serial. If part of a story is missing, we tend to fetishise the fragment into an end game of returning, like the film Mulholland Drive by David Lynch.

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Barbara Campbell-Allen prospects within a tough modernist vein of geological abstraction pioneered by British ceramicist, Ewen Henderson. With Construct, Tumble, and Pointer,

Campbell-Allen masters the accretive facture of ceramic forces and processes. Molten ash, sombre colours and gritty textures fuse into modestly scaled sculptures with the compressed energy of fulgurites.

Art-making in Australian culture could be seen as a controlled burning of dense understories of over-established ideas, adapted from Indigenous fire management practices, to attract the new, to stalk, hunt and collect food for thought, to keep pathways and vistas open and prevent huge conflagrations.

People and process

Porcelain has its own stories. Geologically endemic to Chinese ceramics, it was decoded and synthesised by an 18th century European alchemist. Pure white, acid resistant, durable, translucent porcelain has been used for Chinese court and export ware, European scientific laboratory vessels, sculptures, luxury tableware and electrical insulators. Porcelain was the indigenous Australian’s shard of choice for lapping flint-style tools from colonisers’ domestic debris.

While some artists build meaning from porcelain’s identity as a formulated synthetic material and its scientific, domestic and industrial applications, its ubiquity also means it can be a tabula rasa to new discourses.

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Laid out on a small table, whitish, waxy, unglazed, (molten, frozen, mineral or crystal?) Trisha Dean’s tentative gestures of unmaking present her taciturn refusal to arrive at anything other than the moment in hand. Curious, elemental, her quivering small studies are drawn out, rendered and compressed. Plastic and alert to change, they could be movements toward a claymation film about formlessness.

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Ashley Fiona enacts a delicate memento mandala of one hundred and forty two tiny pinched pots. Their making signifies the accumulation of days as the touch of her fingertips on the white porcelain reflects a past and projects a future foretold in the present. Peer closer to see residues of many spices; a pinch of chilli, garlic, oregano and coriander. Inhale nuances of aromas that remain and remind of recipes once cooked.

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Deborah Burdett’s Chronos sequences hang from the ceiling. Pastel-stained strands of small clay disks, although fired hard as bone, retain their handmade condition and appear marshmallow soft. Suspended emotional ranges are compressed into colour-coded intervals like DNA sequences; patterns of unfinished stories allude to fabric swatches of the designer Paul Smith. Lifetimes can be long or short. One strand closes into a circle.

Place and becoming

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A teapot, some bowls and three small vases. The impulse to use them alerts one to mantras of pattern that hold echoes from another time and place. Secretions of text could turn in your hand like a prayer wheel. Where can these ‘maps’ on fine white ware take you or me? These pots are Shannon Garson’s surveyor’s instruments. Blotches of marshy green and black dotted lines record an emotional geography about her grandmother and the Wallum, a scrubland in southeast Queensland. Recalling people and places, Garson’s abstract patterns resonate anew each time they are practised, put to use.

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Janet Mansfield’s robust ash-encrusted vases are made in and from the rural locality she inhabits. Their soft contours settle gently to the pull of gravity. They promise to sustain the bonds between people and place. The alchemy of fire continues as clay becomes stone and rocks and wood ash become coats of glaze on Rock Box I and 2, covered jars shaped like geodes.

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For Molly Bosworth, seeds are allegories for the adaptability of ideas. Poetically derived from the Kuranda Quandong, moulded hand-sized seed cases are patterned with spidery leaf skeletons that mesh with copperplate writing in sepia iron and inky cobalt blue pigments. Varied surfaces on repeated forms suggest changing conditions of light, shade, soil and culture.

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Terry Davies applies lapidary techniques to polish strange stylised ceramic heads with tiny profiles that succumb to giant helmets. They resemble Easter Island monuments and extra terrestrials, even. Were miners like this, before Avatar and mega machinery? Based on his research talking to locals around Ballarat and studying their photographs, Davies has made elegant, gilded trophies to commemorate the miners of the gold fields of Victoria and the bounty and risks of prospecting and mining for gold.

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Amanda Hale adapts her changing panorama from the Myriorama, a 19th century image card game. It brings to mind landscapes with no horizons by painter Fred Williams that make you feel that you are actually in the place. Could this small ceramic box of stained tiles unpack a new tessellation of country reassigned, reclaimed, re-righted? Ludic stepping stones traverse contested landscapes and transform into endless grids of tectonic plates that reveal histories older than human habitation. Hale’s work needed space for viewers to arrange the tiles, play the game and experience the action; however, her proposed rearrangements of her slab-built, blockish vessels into landscapes seemed a somewhat cumbersome idea.

On the ground

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Kris Coad arranged a tableau of shadowy oblong sepulchres on the floor. Whitish, weatherworn covers leant against the sides. A fragile drift of bleached porcelain leaves embossed with perfect veins lay desolate. They do not rustle, but rattle a dirge.

On a low plinth, shoals of simulated pebbles beat in syncopated time. I hear riffles of water running over low stone walls of dams made in rivers by Indigenous Australians to trap fish. Some of Liz Low’s wheelthrown ovoids have a single finger-sized hole at one end that gives away the illusion of solid rock. One thing becomes another, then another. Accretive and abraded surface textures simulate archaic patinas, fossilised dinosaur eggs? Do you recall Chinese ceramic water droppers used to moisten blocks of stone for grinding? They were made to imitate the shapes of all kinds of things.

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Each of these works was surrounded by other work displayed on plinths. Consolidating the low spatial fields in the gallery could have enabled Coad and Low to install their works so as to better occupy the contemplative zones they required.

Reportage, the state, ecology

On mound shaped jars, Marianne Huhn responded to the refugee boat disaster near Christmas Island in 2010. From the perspective of a helicopter, Huhn etched sheer craggy cliffs around the Limoges porcelain forms and smudged and stained the lines with black, as if the lines of the palms of your hands were inked and printed. The detention centres for asylum seekers waiting for ‘processing’ are a portent of a heartless lack of humanity within a body politic. (http://www.amnesty.org.au/refugees/comments/20442/)

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Huhn models a tiny, white cubic cottage on each lid of her Vulnerable Vessels. Alienated, contained, ambiguous, these inhabit other islands that can be lifted off and separated from the coastal barriers drawn on the walls of the empty vessels.

Steve Davies’ line-up of ragged rabbitorines seems imbued with tragic, heroic Mad Max anger – whodunit culprits, maybe victims – evidence anyhow that something bad has happened. Xenoplastic chimeras, they are cast from the same mould, then distorted, imprinted and coloured with the static of industrial greed, born of flabby mass production. Here the tropes of repetition can signify the proliferation of feral rabbits, cruel culling by myxomatosis and colonising intruders.

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Frazzled like a molten commodity from an atom bomb museum, the anagama-fired bunny, known as Alone Garden Psychopath Rabbit Travelling with Butterflies of the Night, is a carapace of ragged experience, armoured in patches and fragments of the repair work of memory. In central Australia, British atom bomb tests were exploded on Aboriginal lands at Maralinga in the 1950s. (Roberts, Jan, 1981, chapter 8, Massacres to Mining the Colonisation of Aboriginal Australia; Dove Communications Victoria. (Forward to the 2008 edition (www.fearoftheinvisible.com/books). The nuclear blasts contaminated the land and living things. Plants, animals and humans who came into contact with the atomic fallout suffered from radiation sickness and diseases; (www.arpansa.gov.au/pubs/basics/maralinga.pdf). Now the multidisciplinary Critical Masses project proposes to develop an interpretation centre at Maralinga Village; (www.markcypher.com/publications/Critical%20Masses.pdf)

Utensils used for preparing and consuming food tell us about cultural values. Held in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the work titled The Way We Eat by Liu Xiaoxian infers an excessive repast with a vast setting of cutlery, cast in porcelain from the proliferation of extravagantly ornamented knives forks and spoons of 19th Century Europe. A single pair of porcelain chopsticks critiques the decadence of industrial over production. (http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/work/11.2010.a-pp/)

In The Narrative Knot, Helen Earl also co-opts utensils to reveal some truths in her similarly critical work titled Safe Harbour. Earl hybridises implements from traditional European and Australian indigenous material cultures. She uses the mimetic propensity of porcelain, the blank canvas of china painters, to dissimulate the ambit of the real and scramble the cues.

Indigenous artisans traditionally use malleable grass-tree resin or acacia gum to haft prongs to a spear handle. Earl’s Fish Fork inverts material logic by inserting prongs of fragile sticks into a matrix modelled from soft porcelain clay, fired hard to resemble bleached white coral. Earl proposes we use these awkward artefacts crafted from the found, the local, the natural and the handmade to role play at science and society. Grasp the handle made from fragile driftwood attached to a hand painted porcelain oyster shell to ladle and sample salt water. Eaten by starfish, stingrays and humans, the oyster filters gallons of water per day. Its flesh is a test of water quality. Is it contaminated or pure? (http://www.oystersaustralia.org.au/protect)

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Like writer Keith Vincent Smith, Earl’s work is informed by walking in bushland and along coastlines where middens remain as evidence of the abundance that sustained the Indigenous clans of the Sydney region. New ways of knowing arise to mediate being in a place within one culture alongside another culture.

Julie Bartholomew’s exquisite renditions in white porcelain of Australian endangered native plants use techniques she learned from working with traditional artisan flower modellers in Jingdezhen. Laboratory flasks, not vases, hold these blooms. In the remarkable, transient Endangered Shy Eyebright and funnel, a colourless corsage clings to the inside of the conical slope of an elegant funnel. It clings, yet also slips away.

What has an image of blood in a laboratory Petri dish got to do with white porcelain wildflowers? Allusions to endangered species of flora in Australia connect to histories of encounters, not always violent, between colonisers, convicts, “settlers” and first nation people.

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In the different but relevant context of Indigenous Australians accessing their traditional knowledge in public libraries, activist and academic Marcia Langton writes, “It must be about developing a set of practices that recognise the entanglement of the two traditions as they move forward together in a somewhat problematic tension”. (http://epress.lib.uts.edu.au/dspace/bitstream/handle/2100/57/Libraries%20and%20Indigenous%20Knowledge.pdf?sequence=1)

The ledger of endangered species is in the red. Bartholomew’s companion Petri dishes contain botanical information written in English in oxblood copper red glaze. For me, this highlights the loss of indigenous languages and plant knowledge, as well as initiatives taken by traditional owners to establish indigenous protected areas that are effective in sustaining biodiversity. (http://www.environment.gov.au/indigenous/index.html)

In his series From Angola to Vietnam, 1989, artist Christopher Williams had the renowned coloured glass models of flowers made by the Blaschka family photographed in austere black and white to interrogate power. Thomas Crow’s deeply informed account tells us that rather than botanical taxonomy, Williams reclassified the flower models according to documented political disappearances in countries listed in a 1985 Amnesty International report. (Crow Thomas 1999, part 5 Natural History, pp199-211 in Modern Art in the Common Culture, Yale, New Haven. http://www.moma.org/interactives/exhibitions/1999/muse/artist_pages/williams_vietnam.html)

Bartholomew’s project has an inverse resonance with this work by Christopher Williams, in that she retains Linnaean plant taxonomy as well as common names in her text components but alters the representational codes of botanical illustration from the two dimensional medium of watercolour on paper to the three-dimensional medium of modelled clay. Her elegiac translations into finely crafted white porcelain with writing in glaze the colour of blood move us to bear witness.

Magical realism, image, emotion

Recalling the wit and finish of the Adelaide-based Skangaruvian funk style, mastered by Margaret Dodd, Stephen Bowers and others, Christopher Headley enlists trompe d’oeil techniques of casting and painting in assemblages that recuperate his childhood adventures in a disused British airfield.

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A cast inflatable toy aeroplane is harlequin-clad with decals of Jujol’s Park Guell trencadí mosaics. The aircraft alights on the corner of a large adventure storybook. Portraits of blokes like Biggles are bookends. Headley has conjured strangeness, like the encounters between The Little Prince, the fox and the Baobab tree on another planet, described by Saint-Exupéry.

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Plastered with charming pictures in faded colours and inscribed with funny stories, Uncle Teddy’s Triptych is like an old-fashioned children’s omnibus. Mary-lou Hogarth’s funky fun-fairish forms looked as if they might wind up like music boxes or open up to secret compartments. Jelly beans, toothbrush, loopy shapes – if only one could be tucked in for a bedtime story or sit down in a quiet corner to take in all the anecdotes about the whimsical uncle who had a marvellous life. This is where other media, sound or a mise-en-scene in which the work can be located, could charm the viewer to stay a while longer: “I say, I say, I say … did you hear the one about the …?”

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Fiona Fell and Lyndall Adams collaborated on the installation, One Night Stack. Transparent screens, projections and cast shadows ghost and reposition Fell’s introspective modelled figure, seated with legs dangling from a high bench. Bundles of white clay sticks lie along the bench, across her lap and on the floor. A stack of folded clay has accumulated. This parable of creativity symbolises oppression, stamina and transformation, as depicted, for example, in the relentless myth of Sisyphus or the spinning of straw into gold in the tale of Rumpelstiltskin. One realises that the work One Night Stack can signify a condition, a thing, a verb, a gesture, a process, a situation.

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Pru Morrison’s Ode in Five Stanzas responds to Keats’ poem that draws music and life from scenes of red or black figures on an imaginary Greek urn. Anthropomorphic attributes of vases such as handle as hand on the hip and dolls heads placed on the vase necks, create a chorus of five vases singing. There is musicality in the layers of vibrant pinks and oranges scored into with numbers and words in white. On the flattened backs of the dolls heads, white motifs like talk balloons invite participation.

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An oracular figure gazes in wonderment. Amanda Shelser’s idealised self portrait leans forward on her elbows in rapt attention, listening and watching. One delicately cupped hand holds an egg. A humming bird has alighted in the other. Her garment is beautifully decorated with bottlebrush blossoms, wrens, butterflies and bees. Pure outlines of the natural world form a camouflage canopy of encounters, alive in the timeless present of art, like the turquoise Egyptian faience hippopotamus painted with cobalt blue papyrus reeds from ancient Thebes. (www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/hippopotamus-figurine)

Nostalgia and satire

In a processional garniture, Lynda Draper captures her ambivalent nostalgia for her demolished family home. Draper’s eerie porcelain edifice to the flora and fauna of bric-a-brac is fastidiously hand modelled and sticky with memory as marzipan flowers saved from a wedding cake. Were it fondant, Draper’s federated abundance of starry flannel flowers would win the purple ribbon in the exhibition hall of the old Sydney Royal Easter showground, whilst her animal ornaments, formed from the ectoplasm of hallucinations, would haunt and contort on the carousels of side show alley.

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Draper summons a menacing interiority that calls to mind Sandra Taylor’s strident suburban allegories of the 1990s – sombre-toned, polychrome ceramic sculptures that depict painted febrile figures erupting from stark cottages with chimneys belching smoke, perched on lurid green lawned hillocks. (http://robingibson.net/artists/sandra-taylor)

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Ironically deployed in camouflage patterns, Jan Howlin’s rage is suspended from a kitchen rack – pots, pans and rolling pins. The shiny, the matt, the fragile and the lethal Tools of Engagement are there. The potential for dreams to shatter is imminent. A cacophony waiting to go off, this ‘prepared kitchen’ could be a domestic paintball site. Implements hang in wait for their milieu to be spattered with bland designer desert colours, so the camouflage effect can kick in to ‘normalise’ the situation.

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Honour Freeman renders the abject elegant in a telling still life. Grated foodstuff well past its use-by date is coloured a gut-wrenching rancid yellow. A pile of fired slivers of clay sits beside its means of production, a real stainless steel kitchen grater. A ceramic butter knife lies nastily at the ready. The inferred sounds of the slow slide of the spreading knife and the maniacal grating actions operate on one’s nerves like David Lynch’s sound track for Eraserhead.

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The framed embroidery text ‘Health Love Joy Wealth’ is hopeful, the brown retro sofa is comfortable, doilies are plentiful and some china ducks on the wall struggle to take off. Dee Taylor-Graham’s alter ego Shirl presides over tea with the rapier gentility of Dame Edna Everage. Shirl’s interest in the participant as victim of her ruthless chattiness belies Taylor-Graham’s critical deconstruction of the codes of English and Japanese social rituals about tea and the aesthetic appearance, qualities and design of pottery tea drinking vessels that surround her. Taylor-Graham’s satirical take on the conditions of nostalgia and the fetish prove that the quotidian can be dangerous territory. Even so, the empty set for her participatory relational performance remained as one of the comfort zones in the show.

So what can one glean from this experimental response to an exhibition as montage? The prompt of narrative has led me to drag and drop the template of ‘a minor literature’ onto the notion of ceramics as ‘a minor art form’ to illuminate the possibilities of collective utterance, reinvention and the inherently political nature of artistic freedom. These themes are deployed in the artists’ ‘fire management’ of the Understory to articulate new surface textures and terrains, extend languages of form and genre and reveal particularities of place in a page turner of a show in which multiple entry points offer each viewer ways to make deeper connections both within and beyond the ceramic medium.

Late on the summer evening, after the closing celebrations, eight ceramicists crossed the harbour to Circular Quay on one of the four Manly ferries – was it the Freshwater, Queenscliff, Collaroy or the Narrabeen? Perched on two wooden benches close to the prow, shoulder to shoulder like rope haulers, they heave hoed and yelled as the craft cut the swell, salt spray drenched towards becoming.

©Toni Warburton

Toni Warburton is an artist, educator and writer who lives and works and Sydney.

Copies of The Narrative Knot: stories in ceramics catalogue are available on request. Please call 1300 720 124 (within Australia) or email, mail@australianceramics.com.

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Author: Australian Ceramics

In 1956, The Potters Society of Australia was formed to encourage and foster the development, appreciation and recognition of potters and pottery. It was the first ceramics organisation in Australia. In 2006, our name was changed to The Australian Ceramics Association to more fully reflect the scope of practice of the members. We are a national, not-for-profit organisation representing the interests of practising potters and ceramicists, students of ceramics and all those interested in Australian ceramics. We actively support and promote quality, specialist ceramics education nationally. T: 1300 720 124

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