Catchment: An exhibition by Merran Esson
Stella Downer Fine Art. 2 Danks Street, Waterloo. Sydney.
3 March – 2 April 2015
MERRAN ESSON’s investigation into ceramic vessels began with the container not just as a practical device but also as a structure. Catchment refers to both the vessel and perforated forms of ESSON’s ceramics and naturally occurring catchments such as basin shaped areas and drainage networks of the land that rely on earth and mineral content and quality to determine their form. The emerging works are a result of this exploration with the interiors evoking a mixture of ideas about containment and implied function.
For ESSON, ceramics is defined by process. Firing clay is the end process and requires an understanding of geology, heat and time. While clay is common, the process of firing and an understanding of the quality and origin of the clay create differences. Creased and cracked surfaces expose where the clay fought against ESSON’s will to bend and mould each slab. Her fingers made lined impressions as she has dragged them across the clay. Other works are glazed in ESSON’s distinct copper greens, blues and yellows. Sculpted angular surfaces and pierced tactile planes suggest aged and corroded metal of water tanks exposed to the weather and the distinct colour of copper found in treasures buried beneath the sea. These clay vessels invite an exploration of ESSON’s affinity with the land. They are suggestive of her rural past in NSW and refer to rural landmarks in the Mannus Valley and the Upper Murray where she spent her childhood as well as her visits to the arid zones of North West New South Wales. ESSON’s buckets are probably more industrial than organic although there is a strong rural element to this work through references to water tanks, silos and corrugated steel, particularly the way they sit isolated in the landscape with a strong presence.
MERRAN ESSON has been at the forefront of Australian ceramics for many years. She has exhibited extensively in both solo and group exhibitions and touring exhibitions around Australia. In 2008 ESSON won the the Poyntzpass Pioneers Award of Merit at the Shepparton Ceramic Award and in 2006 she was awarded a residency at The National Art School’s Paris Studio, at the Cite Des Internationale. In 2005 she won the 24th Gold Coast International Ceramic Award, and in 2010 she was again selected a finalist. In 2014 she was part of the Woollahra Small Sculpture Prize. ESSON’s work is represented in public and private collections, including the Art Gallery of South Australia, Museum for Kunsthhandwerk und Gewerbe, Hamburg, Institut fuer Kuenstlerische Keramik und Glas, Germany, Perc Tucker Museum, Gold Coast City Art Gallery, Manly Museum and Art Gallery, National Gallery of Australia, Western Australian Art Gallery, Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, Geelong Art Gallery, Queensland University of Technology, National Art School, College of Fine Art, UNSW, Australia Council, University of New South Wales, and Qantas.