The Hollow and the Whole: Contemporary Ceramics

The Hollow and the Whole: Contemporary Ceramics

April 2004 – Delmar Gallery, Trinity Grammar School. Sydney

Looking into a kiln during the firing of ceramic work is a bit like looking into a volcano. The extreme temperatures melt the raw materials that sit on the surface of the work to form a glaze and transform the once soft and malleable clay into a rock. These materials of clay and rock, combined with water and fire are the raw ingredients of imagination.

The title “the hollow and the whole” emerged as a way of describing the three-dimensional aspects of this exhibition. The different approaches in all the work relies on the exploration of volume. From earliest time humans have discovered that to press a thumb into a lump of clay leaves a small hollow impression. The aim here is to make a slightly larger impression.

When I was approached to exhibit my recent work here and to also invite other ceramic artists, I naturally jumped at the chance to help present an exhibition highlighting the breadth in contemporary ceramics in Sydney. This selection reflects my particular view of ceramics. By narrowing this selection to the eight artists represented, we bring together work which explores a richness of surface, a variety of colour and a diversity of ideas.

So much of contemporary ceramics is looking toward design with its clean-cut lines, but in this exhibition our aim was to retain something of the maker’s hands. The process of construction and illusions of materiality are evident here. Exhibitions such as this within educational institutions are vitally important for artists. We are all pushing boundaries of what is familiar. Most of the work confronts domestic functional scale and purpose, stepping outside what is traditionally recognisable in ceramics. We make this work because it creates a very direct link to the society we live in; to the way we think about our world and how we are drawn to create things that reflect our culture. We also do it because we love it.


Catalogue essay by Merran Esson
This article is reprinted from exhibition catalogue “the Hollow and the Whole”,  published by The Society of the Arts, Trinity Grammar School. 119 Prospect Rd. Summer Hill. NSW 2130.
© Merran Esson 2004. All rights reserved