Merran Esson

In May 2011 I took part in a two week expedition to Fowlers Gap, a UNSW research station 90 minutes north of Broken Hill. Spending time in this very rocky, semi arid desert zone has changed aspects of my work. I have always had an affinity with the land, having spent my childhood on a farm in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains, however, the geology and vastness of this recent exploration has brought a more organic resolve to this work. My interest in the collision between man and nature continues. All working farms have a junk pile of old water tanks, machinery parts and odd bits of farm detritus that might just come in useful one day, so stepping into this environment at Fowlers Gap was in some ways quite familiar. I was intrigued to see twisted metal iron from a water tank wrapped around a tree trunk in the dry creek bed behind the main farmhouse. It is a reminder of the power of nature.

"Merran Esson (New South Wales) has lived in the vast interior of inland Australia as well as amid the intensely urban confines of its largest cosmopolitan city – Sydney. Her work expresses the contrast between these extremes. Stunned by the way physical environment imposes boundaries on scale, form and function, Esson produces vigorous clay vessels (often pierced) that invite an exploration of the polarities of inside/outside, interior/exterior and belonging/exclusion. Esson is also inspired by the vagaries of texture and its reflection in the Australian landscape, particularly where there is a contrast between the environmental and the industrial; her large vessels have unique textural properties, which probe vernacular ideas about surface and form. Investigating concerns of identity and location, Esson’s works respond to different physical environments and re-evaluate scale, form and function. Recent works, begun in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains near Tumbarumba in NSW in south eastern Australia are rural in origin but have an industrial scale. Esson combines liner patterns of the land as seen from the air with surfaces that resemble aged and corroded metal, as found in abandoned water tanks left to rust in back paddocks. " Extract from an essay titled “A Survey of a Sense of Place” by Stephen Bowers. Published in Ceramics Art and Perception. Issue 58 2004."