Monday, April 4, 2011

I heART Japan

Japan holds a special place in my heart. I spent 3 years at university studying its culture and language, an amazing couple of years living and working there in my early 20s, and many of my family and friends hail from Japan. So it has been distressing, to say the least, watching events unfold there over the last few weeks. Kenji Uranishi - my dear friend, co-collaborator, studio buddy and all-round super guy - and his equally awesome wife Sonia have organised the I heART Japan online charity art auction to raise money for the Red Cross Japan and Pacific Appeal 2011. They have gathered together a wonderful collection of work from 20 artists from across the country (ceramics, painting, photography, design, sculpture) to be auctioned on eBay from 7-10th April. I'm so glad to be able to be a part of this and have donated the two bowls pictured below for auction.

It has been a tragic and surreal start to the year and the magnitude of the disaster(s) is hard to comprehend. But if you can, please support the I heART Japan auction and help out whilst also getting yourself some wonderful artworks.

The work of all participating artists can be previewed HERE in advance of the auction and bidding starts HERE on Thursday April 7th (8pm EST) and ends Sunday April 10th (8pm EST).

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Forming Words

Well you know I love a bit of text, and I'm quite keen on ceramics too, so its nice to be part of a show that celebrates all things ceramicky AND texty. Here's the exhibition blurb, and a big thank you to Sophie Milne and Ingrid Tufts for organising the show. Its at Pan Gallery in Melbourne, and opens March 3rd. Pop along if you can!

"Text on ceramics has a long and rich history, from ancient pictograms scratched on clay tablets to provocative works from the conceptual art movement of the 60s and 70s. Forming Words is an exhibition designed to explore and articulate ideas within this popular movement in ceramic practice.

Ceramic art has the ability to communicate without words, through touch, sight and use, making the decision to incorporate text a deliberate and potentially provocative choice. Eight Australian ceramicists exhibit works that explore how the written word furthers our appreciation of a three dimensional artwork, merging text and form to convey a cohesive idea."

Exhibiting artists: Jane Walton, Connie Lichti, Kylie Johnson, Mel Robson, Jan Downes, Ingrid Tufts, Wendy Hadfield-Smith, Sarit Cohen

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Waltjim Bat Matilda

We came across this the other night on NITV (National Indigenous Television). Its the best version of Waltzing Matilda I've heard! Keep an ear out for the baaaaaaaa.

Flood Relief Ceramic Auction

I am sure many of you are aware of the devastating floods that affected QLD (and other parts of the country) recently. To help raise funds for The Premier's Disaster Relief Appeal the indefatigable Melbourne-based ceramicist Vipoo Srivilasa has galvanised and organised over 40 ceramic artists to donate work to be auctioned on ebay, with all proceeds going to the flood fund.

The auction goes live on Thursday February 3rd and will end on Sunday February 6th at 9pm. Its a pretty impressive list of both Australian and international artists so please go and have a look and support Vipoo's fantastic efforts and those affected by the floods.

You can preview some of the works here, and find out more information about the auction here.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Things i'm coveting from afar

I have been coveting this chair for a couple of months now, ever since my friend Laura, half of the dynamic duo of Lismore-based chair lovers Fourish and Blume, emailed me a pic of it. They’ve just started a blog, documenting the transformation of their finds of musty old chairs and couches (nicked from the roadside or garnered from the iconic Lismore Tender Centre) into beautiful pieces like this. Little dynamos they are! While the process of transformation is fascinating, one of the most interesting things is the astonishing amount of stuff they find down the back of the chairs and couches - everything from ten dollar notes, pens and keys through to miniature plastic tennis rackets and embroidered kookaburras.

Have a look at their brand new blog.

And this beauuuuuuutiful bowl from ceramic artist Maria Kristofersson (found via a plate a day). See more of her lovely work here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Helter swelter

Geez....its hot out here. 42 degrees today. But strangely bearable.

This picture was taken out at Simpson's Gap. I wasn't trying to be all special effectsy with it. My daughter dropped my camera on the ground and now all the photos come out with this slightly pyschadelic blurry edge. Sometimes it kind of works!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Fio and me

Brisbane based jeweller and object maker Matt Dwyer (FIO) and I have been working together over the last few months on some collaborative pieces for a client of his - a series of little porcelain, ebony and sterling silver cups to go with a very beautiful ebony and sterling silver teapot he made last year (see pic below). I've left the finished porcelain pieces with him in Brisbane to work his magic on them, inlaying the ebony and sterling silver, and can't wait to see the final result.
We were hoping to do a few more things together but now that I have headed bush it will have to wait-a-while. As much as its nice to be pulling back a little from work, its so hard walking away from things like this! Matt has a beautiful shop/studio/workshop called Fio in at James Street in Brisbane. Drop in if you can, or check out his work here. I'll post images of the final pieces when they are done.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Off to the desert!

We’ve just come back from a few days in Alice Springs, checking out the town and surrounds, which in just a few short weeks is going to be our new home! Yep, Central Australia here we come! Its all very exciting! The Engineer (in collaboration with the sun) will be working on solving the world’s energy problems, and me and the little lady…well, we haven’t quite worked out what we’ll be doing there yet!

The desert certainly did a good job of wooing us though – after all the near record rainfall it was a mild 28 degrees, the Todd river was flowing, the hills were covered in green (!!!), and purple and yellow wildflowers were sprouting everywhere! Somehow I don’t think January is going to be quite like that, but it was magic and any small anxieties I had about leaving the big smoke dissipated within 5 minutes of arriving.

So, I will be hanging up the overalls for a while, and I must confess that I am quite excited about the prospect of a break from making - its been an exhausting couple of years! I will still be doing some work to finish off my Australia Council project, and a few other projects that are already underway, but it will be nice to pull back a little and soak up some new scenery, some new experiences and some new adventures.

The next few weeks are all about the mammoth task of packing up my studio and our house….or I could just keep sitting here blogging. Four posts in one day…I think that’s more than I’ve done all year!

I believe this is called procrastination.

Chop chop!

It tastes (and looks) better

Kylie Kwong's latest book is jam packed with handmade ceramics from makers such as Kirsten Coelho, Lesa Farant and myself. Its nice to see my work filled with such yumminess! And nice to see a celeb chef using so many handmade pots.

(pickled rainbow chard)

Sewing Circle

If you're in Murwillumbah, or feel like a jaunt to a beautiful part of the world, be sure to check out another very clever designer and artist Belinda Smith's new work in her exhibition Sewing Circle at the Tweed River Art Gallery. December 3 - January 23.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Kenji the Great!

Have a look at Kenji Uranishi's beautiful public art works on the front (and back) cover of the latest Journal of Australian Ceramics. Such a clever lad he is!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Happy Holidays

Hawaii has never really been on my list of places to go, so when an unexpected series of events led us there recently, I wasn't really sure what to expect. To say I was pleasantly surprised is an understatement. W.O.W. So after a few much-needed weeks of lazing in the sun and hiking around volcanoes and rainforests, I'm feeling refreshed and ready for our next adventure. Which I will tell you about shortly. From one extreme to the other....

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Ipswich House:Heritage House Portraits

A couple of years ago I worked on a fantastic project with the Ipswich Art Gallery, who over the last few years have been commissioning QLD artists to create “house portraits” of some of the heritage houses of the area. They invited artists across a range of different mediums to respond to these houses, resulting in an amazing collection of diverse artworks all currently on show at the gallery. This was a bit of dream project for me and I really lost myself in researching the history of the house, the area and its past occupants (more about that here and here and here). The show is summed up nicely with the gallery blurb:

A picturesque and illuminating foray into the history and vision of Queensland’s early domestic architecture as seen through the eyes of 13 contemporary Queensland artists, "The Ipswich House" examines the city’s significant architectural heritage through a selection of commissioned ‘house portraits’ across a diverse range of mediums.

These house portraits are more than mere pictorial representations of the city’s heritage-listed buildings, instead offering explorations into the architectural design, construction and fabrication methods while also exposing more than a hint of the personal histories and memories of their former residents.

So please drop by the Ipswich Art Gallery if you can to see the results of this most excellent project. The show includes works by Noel McKenna, Jane Burton, Barbara Heath, Michael Zavros, Richard Stringer, Maureen Hansen, Carl Warner, Annie Hogan, Christina Waterson , Madeleine Kelly, Bruce Buchanan, Judy Barrass and myself. There is also a very beautiful catalogue available with some great insights into each artists’ approach.

Exhibition runs until November 14th 2010

(image above: Jane Burton MacFarlane's House #1,2010, Pigment print, 43 cm x 43 cm)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Moving Forward...

My studio is gleeeeeeeaming. Aaah, such a nice feeling. It took me almost two days to clean it out. A massive spring clean. I almost didn’t want to use it again, so nice was it to have it in such sparkling order!! But I am about to embark on a new adventure and, along with the buying of shiny new journals and sketchbooks, the studio spring clean is an essential part of the ritual. I recently received an Australia Council grant to make some new work for a solo show next year, and so I am just starting to turn my attention to this, getting ready for the rollercoaster ride that inevitably accompanies the development of new work! I have a starting point, but as always there are a kazillion directions I could go in, so many half formed ideas from the last couple of distracted years, and so many processes and techniques I want to experiment with.

So I’ve spent the last few weeks madly scribbling down all my ideas and thoughts, trying to sift through it all, distill it down and work out a clearer direction. It’s a slow process, especially when you have a two year old vying for your attention and constantly demanding to play dress ups!

Developing new work is a process I both love and hate. It’s a process I know so well and yet one I can never take for granted. For me, the thrill and freedom of experimenting and researching and playing goes hand in hand with a kind of anxiety, because the whole way along you never quite know what the outcome will be. There are so many unknowns - and that can be both exciting and unnerving.

Rebecca Solnit writes in her book A Field Guide to Getting Lost (recently recommended to me by Marianne Huhn) that when it comes to discovery “it seems to be an art of recognizing the role of the unforseen, of keeping your balance amid surprises, of collaborating with chance, of recognizing that there are some essential mysteries in the world and thereby a limit to calculation, to plan, to control”.

That’s kind of it in a nutshell! So, here goes. Time to mess the studio up again.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Elle Interiors Norway

A feature on me in last month's Elle Interiors magazine, Norway. Its all in Norwegian, so I have no idea what it says... but it looks nice! As does the rest of the mag, full of covetable objects and abodes - such style those Norwegians.

Monday, August 16, 2010


I’m currently working my way through a commissioned series of beakers to be used as gifts for new members of FORM. It’s part of a membership drive that has already seen 400 very lovely Marianne Huhn cups go out to lucky new members (including me). Like many of our organisations advocating for craft/design/creativity in this country, FORM play a really important and crucial role in supporting artists and fostering awareness and creativity in the community. I’ve received a lot of support from these organisations over the years, for which I am eternally grateful. Not sure if I would have been able to steer my way through the sometimes overwhelming journey from wide eyed student to a professional practice without them.

I was a little daunted by this commission at first. I start going a bit loopy repeating the same process over and over again and would never cut it as a production potter. But it has actually proven to be quite a relaxing and enjoyable process so far. I set myself up at my work table with everything laid out, make a nice cup of tea and a few snacks to keep me going, turn on Radio National and away I go. Pour wipe polish paint cut paste stick pour wipe polish paint cut paste stick. Its nice to just focus on the one thing for a change, instead of flying around trying to do ten things at once, which is how it usually is in my studio these days.

So now, not only do you get all the information, invitations, publications and benefits of being a member of FORM, you’ll also receive a little ole Mel Robson beaker too. Now if that’s not a reason to join, then I don’t know what is….!

127 down, 73 to go!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

And just a bit more blue...

And some blue themed wall tiles. Available through Object/Collect during the Blue exhibition.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

My Endless Loooooove

I've just sent off the last of my work for the upcoming BLUE show at Object Gallery, which opens next week. I've had a ball working on these pieces and despite numerous technical hiccups (making large round flat things from porcelain can be a little challenging sometimes) I got there in the end. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was working with the phrase something old something new something borrowed something blue, which refers to a wedding tradition for good luck that apparently goes back to Victorian times. Blue was said to symbolise love, loyalty and fidelity and the works I've made explore some ideas around love and marriage and the rituals and traditions that go with that. I came across some fantastic stuff in researching this, but some of my favourites were the endless lists of top ten wedding songs.

Here's just one of them.

Top 10 Wedding Songs

1 Everything I do (I Do It For You) Brian Adams
2 Tonight I Celebrate My Love (Peabo Bryson & Roberta Flack)
3 My Heart Will Go On (Celine Dion)
4 Light Up My Life (Debby Boone)
5 I Will Always Love You (Whitney Houston)
6 Hoplessly Devoted To You (Olivia Newton John)
7 The Wind Beneath My Wings (Bette Midler)
8 Can't Smile Without You (Barry Manilow)
9 I Just Called To Say I Love You (Stevie Wonder)
10 I Got You Babe (Sonny & Cher)

Not so sure about number 6... I would have thought a song about a girl being dumped and nursing her broken heart might not be such a good omen as a wedding song, although always happy to see Livvy on a list.

A glaring omission from this list is of course that all-time classic love song "My Endless Love" which (according to Wikipedia) is "the greatest love song of all time" (must be true then). Think Blue Lagoon, Lionel Richie, Diana Ross, lots of breathy singing and extended wavering vowels, long looks and dramatic crescendos. When it comes to wedding songs it doesn't get much better than this....???!!

BLUE opens July 31st and kicks off Object's Spring Series 2010. You can read a little more about the show and the artists involved here.

And here's some fascinating facts about the song My Endless Love, and a live rendition by Lionel and Di (wearing a very fetching frock). Go on, you know you want to.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Pru at Ray's

If you're in Sydney over the next few weeks you really should go and have a look at Pru Morrison's show at Ray Hughes Gallery. There's some absolute pearlers in this one! Apart from her witty and off the wall social and political observations, the technical elements of this body of work are mighty impressive. She's a wizz!

The show runs from July 23rd to August 18th and you can see more images of the work here.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Something old something new....

I have been to more weddings in the last 6 months than I have in my entire life. It seems that getting married is big right now! Which is fine by me - love a good wedding I do! So when Object asked me earlier this year if I wanted to be part of an exhibition called BLUE, where each artist was asked to make some work responding to a saying or a phrase containing the word blue, I jumped at the chance to get some of this marriage business out of my system and into some work - and to knock off a few overdue wedding presents at the same time! So working with the phrase Something Old Something New Something Borrowed Something Blue I've been playing around with some pieces that are a bit of a mixture of all that. Here's a sneak peak of what i've come up with for starters.

The show opens at Object in Sydney at the end of July.

Pee Bear Teapot!

Yet another fabulous offering from Melbourne Ceramicist Vipoo Srivilasa.
The teapot is the result of a collaboration between Vipoo and a Thai Celadon Factory, made during his residency in Chang Mai in Northern Thailand last year. If you're in Sydney more of Vipoo's work can be seen at Depot Gallery (2 Danks St, Waterloo) from 15-26 of June.

Friday, May 21, 2010

What a Caulker (corker)!

Now when it comes to tools I know there are a lot of people out there who like to make their own. I admire that, but I’m not one of them. I’m more than happy to pop down to the shop and buy myself a shiny new ready made tool. So I must say I was rather proud of myself recently for doing a bit of DIY in the tool department.

I’ve been playing around with some new work that will require handles. Now I can pull handles from clay, but I seem to be only ever able to pull one kind of handle. Every time I try to make them a little differently they just don’t look quite right. So I decided to save myself a whole lot of time and frustration and whip myself up a little hand extruder with the help of this video (via ceramic arts daily) and a very amusing character called Dave Henry. A quick trip to Bunnings for a caulking gun and some PVC pipe, a bit of drilling and sawing, and voila, my very own hand extruder with 3 different handle forms (so far). It’s a corker! I keep hearing James Bond and Mission Impossible soundtracks in my head as I aim at the bench and watch the handles ooze out!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A few new bits

Some new pieces for an upcoming show at The Jam Factory.

I've had that too ra loo ra loo ra tune (irish lullaby) stuck in my head for weeks.

More to come soon....!

Time Travel

I’m part of an exhibition that is currently showing at the Tweed River Regional Gallery called Time Travel: reimagining the past. It’s a selection of works from contemporary Australian artists who draw on past eras for inspiration. Curated by Susi Muddiman and Gail McDermott it’s a really amazing collection of works from artists across the country.

The Tweed River Gallery is in the very beautiful town of Murwillumbah, which is where I grew up. A lot of my work draws on that time of my life, and images from that era feature frequently in my pieces. We moved away when I was 15, and at the time I was SO glad to get out of there and move on to bigger and better things (like…er…the Gold Coast!!!). Of course, these days I dream of living back in that area! So I’m really looking forward to heading down on June 6th to give a talk about my work, along with a few other artists from the show, so if you are in the area please pop along!

Artists in the show include: Julie Bartholomew, Gordon Bennett, Penny Byrne, Samantha Everton, Anna Ferran, Rew Hanks, Neil Jenkins, Jonathon Jones, Lindy Lee, Keith Looby, Fiona Lowry, Alasdair Macintyre, Dean Manning, Danie Mellor, VR Morrison, Kate O’Brien, Ben Quilty, Valerie Sparks, Robyn Stacey, Arlene TextaQueen, Christine Wilcocks and Anne Zahalka.

A pic of the lovely old house I grew up in

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Making a start...

Once a week Kenji (his hands above) and I get together and catch up on the week’s goings on while our littlies run around creating havoc together. We drink tea and talk a lot about what we’re up to in the studio. Collaboration is a frequent topic and over the years we’ve come up with numerous ideas of things we’d like to do together - but actually getting around to doing any of these things is another matter entirely! Apart from the Little People (sadly neglected for a long while) we haven’t made a lot of progress! So we were both quite excited today to have finally been able to organise an afternoon in the studio together to work on a collaborative idea we’ve been talking about for a long time. It was just a start, a chance to play around with a few things and to look at how our processes, techniques and ideas might be able to work together in a way that fits for both of us, but also in a way that pushes both of us a little. After a lot of excited chatter and some pushing and prodding and pouring of clay we dragged ourselves away from the moulds and tools and clay and slip and wandered around the corner to pick the kids up. It was short but sweet, and it might be weeks (or months) before we get another chance to play, but at least we finally made a start!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Musing About Mud

If you're interested in ceramics Carole Epp's blog Musing About Mud is probably the most comprehensive guide to what is going on in the world of ceramics - from artists and exhibitions to opportunities, grants, competitions, residencies, conferences and job vacancies. She has her finger on the pulse! As well as keeping up to date with all of this she also manages to make some pretty fantastic work of her own, which will be showing at Centre Materia in Quebec in May (16th-30th). So if you are in the area it would be well worth checking out. If not you can also see some of her work here and here. I'm lucky enough to have one of her figurative works. It both disturbs me and makes me smile every time I see it! I like that in an artwork.


Well now how did that happen? I took a blogging break over christmas and next thing I know its April! Oops.

I’ve been having a lovely time in the studio of late. I’ve spent the last few weeks mixing up glaze tests. I’ve been working with the same tried and trusted glazes for years. They’ve been perfect for the kind of work I’ve been doing (and there’s nothing like reliability when it comes to meeting deadlines), but I’m after something a little different. Not wild and crazy different, just different to before. So I dug out all my old notes on glaze chemistry, hunted down my dusty glaze text books, set up my scales and sieves, and donned my dust mask (which is always a good look, especially after wearing it for an hour or so when its just that weeeee bit too tight).

When I started studying ceramics I remember dreading the glaze chemistry subjects. Those baffling charts and calculations were a bit overwhelming to start with. But I surprised myself at how much I enjoyed it. Really, its kind of amazing what you can create by mixing up a few simple substances, and the possibilities are endless. So I’ve been having a ball getting back into it after all these years. All I need now is for a nice big gas kiln to drop from the sky and install itself in my studio. My trusty electric kilns are great, but electricity just doesn’t cut it when it comes to certain glazes. Ah well. Sometimes you just gotta work with what you’ve got.

I’ve also been working on some new wall tiles (pics above and below). I’ve refined the form a little, made them bigger (a whopping great 10cm x 10cm), and have been playing with inlaying different stoneware clay bodies into porcelain and combining it all with drawings and decals. There's a bit more work to be done on these, but as with most things I make these days…slowly slowly.

A few exhibitions coming up in the next couple of months (which I am shamefully behind in and starting to freak out about just a little bit!) but all going well I’ll have some images of new work to show you soon! And who knows, I might even blog a bit in between that!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


A little while back Kenji and I did a workshop with the wonderful staff at our local child care centre. They were really keen to find out more about clay and to experiment with different ways they might be able to use it with the kids. We’re no experts in this field so it was really a collaborative approach between them and us, using their knowledge of kids and our knowledge of clay. One of the things we showed them was how to make simple bowls and vessels using a slab of clay and a slump/hump mould. They were quite taken with this process and so a couple of days ago I made them a whole bunch of plaster moulds they could use with the kids.

I have a love hate relationship with plaster. So much can go right with it, but so much can go wrong with it too. But today when I went down into the studio and saw all the finished moulds on my workbench it was all about the love. There is an indescribable quality to plaster that sometimes just takes my breath away. A day or two after it has been cast, before it is completely dry, it has this amazing sheen to it and reflects a beautiful soft light. Its cool and so smooth and clean and white and I just want to hold it against my cheek! In my recent musings on process I have been toying with some new ideas of working with plaster as the end, rather than simply as the means to an end.

But for now these smooth little beauties are off to a different fate!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Birdy Beakers

I've also been putting those hands of mine to use making a new range of birdy beakers.

tweet tweet.