Pot Heads

Right now there are three of the best ceramic exhibitions we've seen in an age gracing the hallowed exhibition spaces of Craft. Seriously great exhibitions. Shows that have surprised us, moved us and surpassed our expectations on many levels. We're pretty amazed, and as Craft moves from artist initiated exhibitions to curated shows for 2015, the three highly individual voices of Kate Jones, Sarah O'Sullivan and Gerry Wedd sing loud and clear. Considered alongside the new school naive 'wonk' of the hand-built ceramic works by Paradise Structures on show in the Craft window, you have what could probably be described as a perfect primer delivering the incredible diversity of contemporary ceramic practice in Australia.  


The term 'hotly anticipated' doesn't even come close to the way Ramona's been feeling about this show. Entitled Being, this new collection of large scale slab built ceramic pots builds upon the aesthetics, construction, techniques and conceptual framing showcased in Kates exhibition practice over the past two years and concentrates specifically upon the 'spaces' between two dimensional painting and sculpture. 

Kate says of her work  "The combination of painted surface and sculptural form creates an ambiguity that questions assumptions about both genres. this allows my work to sit in a liminal space that affords a realm of possibility in which new configurations of ideas and relations can occur." The resulting works within this show are a testament to the hours of investigation and skillfull restraint of Kate's painting technique. There is a definitive ambiguity in the pieces -  the mark making and brush strokes are intimately connected with contemporary abstract art, the scale and form of the sculptures lends itself to abstracted industrial architecture, while the drips and splashes immediately bring graf tagging to mind.

The scale of these works is impressive, both technically and literally. Some fold and bend like fabric sacks, while others stand upright at ungainly angles like totems and tree trunks. Their solidity is either softened by the layered of pastel colour washes or given a menacing bulk with dark paint and glossy glazes. These paintings in the round are like landscapes with each aspect offering a different perspective to the viewer. Glorious stuff.


This exhibition has provided us with one of our biggest surprises for the year so far. Deep and rich with historical references, masterful in its technique, sharply clever in concept and heady with nostalgia the show has completely blown us away. Sarah's work is an ongoing investigation of how "decoration is used in domestic ceramics to navigate relationships between people, and the natural Australian environment" 

Vestige is a brilliant articulation of these themes that elicits an intensely personal response from the viewer. Regular readers know that we're both keen ceramic collectors with shelves and mantles covered with coveted objects made by our favourite makers that say as much about us as they do about the maker. Ramona's collection reflects her deep love of poetry and the many hues of blue, while mine is full of Japanese earthenware and mid-century west german pottery.

Both of us however are united in our love of the undisputed king of decorative ceramics, Wedgewood. And its here in the pocket of the traditionally coloured clay where Sarah's years of technical and historical investigation in decorative textiles intersect with our own personal stories. I'm doubly invested: having inherited my grandmothers vast collection and with a distant ancestor who worked there as potter. However nearly everyone anyone can draw familial links with the special display objects  that were only used looking or for 'good'. That this show so closely referenced our own family histories and then played them out on wall-mounted, plinth-white furniture against a perfect museum grey literally took our breath way. Clever, clear and moving.


I'm gonna come straight out and call myself a Weddophile. Gerry's keen observations, wry wit, humble leanings and excellent musical tastes are right up my alley. The fact that he's also a brilliant illustrator,super skilled clay maven and Delft aficionado is icing on the proverbial cake.

In his new show Pot Culture he's pretty much written a ceramic love letter to the Melbourne Music Mafia, connecting the dots from Paul Kelly (see what I did there) to the Drones in a commemorative collection of decorated plates that charts the family tree from Hank Williams, to Evil Graham Lee (who in a little known MMM fact actually played pedal steel on KLF's album Chill Out - see I really am a music geek).

Name checking lyrics from the Underground Lovers and Black Eyed Susans in hand-carved and hand painted letters he draws pertinent parallels between the crafting of music and objects. His vessel based documentation of the drug dependant decline of so many great talents links back to the urn storytelling of ancient Greece (and maybe the Old Greek) in a perfectly pitched rendition of 'happy sad'. This show is SO close to my heart... Dad played alongside The Loved Ones in the garage days of 1960's Australia and I fulfilled a countdown fueled childhood dream by working at INpress mag for just over a decade throughout the 90's, before coming back to craft. Nostalgia overload wrapped up pop pun genius.


Melbourne based sibling collaborators Paradise Structures have somehow managed to merge Anthony Robbins motivational language with basketball culture AND toilet humour in their new show Keep Flushin'.

Drawing connections between everyday actions and sporting achievements they look at how we might re-position daily acts as small wins. Bringing together digitally printed fabric garments and incredibly naive ceramic tableware they mix both metaphors and materials. Weirdly compelling. BECK

Being, Vestige and Pot Culture on Monday to Saturday at Craft until November 29
Keep Flushin' on 24/7 in the window until December 1

All images by Beck Jobson.



mind blown

Seeing new work by Sandra Eterovic is always exciting. Long time favourite of handmadelife, this hard working and talented illustrator/artist just gets better and better. A sense of humour dryer than a desert married with the prettiest of palettes ramps up the sarcasm to 11 without being too clever clogs.

Her new table tennis paddle paintings (all sold by the time I got to the opening) are pitch perfect. People lie awake, their minds racing with the knowledge life just doesn't live up to expectations.
There's always a smattering of self deprecation to keep the ego in check. Above all this sardonic sloganism there is an undeniable beauty in her work. We never know if this is just a way to seduce us as viewers, a way of tricking us into believing that everything will be all right in the end, when in fact reality is far more complicated than that.

Despite this lack of apparent optimism, the work is ultimately funny and open hearted. Eterovic seems to be saying that even if things aren't all rosy, at least we are in it together and that will make it more than bearable in the end. We can have fun in the lifeboat together despite being such a motley crew.

Still Waiting to be Blown Away  
by Sandra Eterovic
until November 12
HUT 13
79 Swan Street 



Apology of the week

Ok people we really owe you an apology. Blame the school holiday madness, weird illnesses, surprise parties, daylight savings and a looming deadline for our absence. The truth is we haven't had much to say, we haven't been able to see much or do much either. You get that sometimes, life just gets crazy. But we should have let you know, and for that we bow our heads down and ask for your forgiveness and patience while we get our act together. We are going to see the above show this week, looks beautiful and we promise to write you a full review. Beck and Ramona




The ladies of HML are enormous fans of paper-craft, origami, silhouettes, paper-cuts, embossing, we love it all. Ramona even has a thing for quilling. But we seriously love paper when its used as a clever and confounding construction material. And Carly Fischer's new show Magic Dirt, currently on at Craft does this in spades.

Carly is a contemporary artist who brilliantly utilises the medium as both a conceptual and mechanical tool. Making models is not in and of itself new. However playing with the traditional context of model making as starting point for a finished piece of work and flipping it - by using the 'real' piece as the starting point and making a paper model as the finished piece, really is. Especially when said work is so realistic it gets your brain totally twisted up in chicken and egg knots.

Her mastery of mimicry is mental. Upon first sight the gallery space looks like its mid installation, with dirty plastic and green shopping bags strewn among cigarette butts and discarded soft drink cans. Of course under closer inspection the true nature and genius of the exhibition reveals itself. Honed on the visual cues of iconic cinematic representations of the 'outback' from films like Wake in Fright and Mad Max, Fischer deploys the interlopers associative aesthetic and spiritual mythology built around the landscape, contrasting it sharply against the reality of the land as it is actually inhabited. 

The soundscape that accompanies the exhibition continues Carly's collaborative work with Berlin Based composer Mieko Suzuki. Created from both site specific atmos recordings and film score samples it provides a poignant and evocative backdrop to one of this years most profound and compelling exhibitions.

Craft is recording an interview with Carly for their brilliant Craft TV channel, so keep your eyes peeled hear and learn more from this amazing artist. Or in the meantime check out the website for more details. BECK

Magic Dirt by Carly Fischer
Gallery one, Craft Victoria
31 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
September 5 - October 18.



visions of spring

Jason Haufe @ Stephen McLaughlan Gallery
The ladies of HML are big fans of makers seeing out inspiration from multiple sources. Whether it be gardens, food, architecture and in this week's slew of shows, visual art. We refuse to see boundaries between any of these things. Creativity is creativity, inspiration is everywhere right?

encredible multimedia work by Melinda Schawel at Flinders Lane Gallery
New colour ways, materials, thought processes, even settings can really fire up the brain. As the weather gets better it's good to push ourselves a little further afield. Don't forget that every university campus usually has an accompanying exhibition space or two that should be explored on a regular basis. 

Artist Books at George Paton Gallery UMSU
We find that makers of all disciplines can get very caught up in their own media and become a little tunnel visioned. To loosen things up there is nothing better that going to see work in unusual spaces and in unexplored territories. in the same way we recommend spending the odd day or two doing the blockbuster shows at the national galleries. You'll find yourselves refreshed and ready for making new Spring work.

always inspiring Sarah Crowest @C3 Gallery
All the captions have links to the galleries in them so you can grab the details. Some are finishing and some are starting this week so be sure to check the dates and opening times (which fluctuate wildly from space to space as seasoned gallery visitors will know). Happy inspiration trails people, back to more craft based shows next week. RAMONA