Celebrating the exhibiting and conversation of ceramics

Feature

The exhibition SIXTY: The Journal of Australian Ceramics 60th Anniversary 1962-2022 can be thought of as having two main purposes. On one hand, it is a celebration of the remarkable longevity of Australia’s flagship print publication devoted to the art of ceramics and pottery. On the other, it is an opportunity to present a diverse and comprehensive survey of contemporary makers in the field.

The show, which following its first display at the Australian Design Centre will go on tour for no less than four years across 17 art galleries and spaces in all states and territories, is a testament to the much-loved journal’s stature among Australia’s ceramic artists. The exhibition features 22 Australian ceramicists, all of whom have enjoyed a relationship with the journal in some capacity over the years. Among the artists are Vipoo Srivilasa, whose incredibly unusual and imaginative work has certainly found favour in the wider art world in recent times, as well as Pippin Drysdale, Honor Freeman, Garry Wedd, Damon Moon and Owen Rye, to name just a few from an eclectic line-up that represents all corners of Australia.

“The exhibition is one part of the celebration of the anniversary year,” says Lisa Cahill, director of the Australian Design Centre and co-curator of SIXTY along with Anna Grigson. “All of the artists selected have had an association with the magazine and have been selected to represent a diversity of practice.”

That diversity is among the show’s key drawcards. From Glenn Barkley’s busy and detailed works with their intriguing range of cultural references, to the austere creations of Kirsten Coelho and Greg Daley, the classical curves on show in the work of Rye, and pottery that embraces exuberant colour schemes such as that of David Ray, SIXTY offers a mixture of styles.

Alison Milyika Carroll, a Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara woman, brings a distinctive expression of Country to her piece, Kungkarangkalpa: Seven Sisters, 2022.

The show is also designed to be relatable for those who might not have a thorough understanding of Australia’s ceramic tradition (or indeed the journal, known informally as the JAC, which has published 176 issues across its six decades). Cahill remarks that SIXTY offers “ceramic practice for a broad general audience and gives strong insights into the excellence in ceramic art in Australia over many decades.”

“Ceramics is booming and I believe it will continue to do so,” she adds. “This exhibition adds to excellent exhibitions that happen across the country all year. It is a joy and a privilege to play a part in recognising and celebrating Australian ceramics in this anniversary year.”

With ceramics arguably still a relatively underexposed sector of the Australian art world, Cahill hopes the show—with its four-year tour and reach to all corners of the nation—will bring new opportunities for the artists involved, as well as acquisitions.

“We dedicate this exhibition to the potters, the artists, the makers, the teachers, the writers and the photographers who are The Journal of Australian Ceramics,” says Cahill.

SIXTY: The Journal of Australian Ceramics 60th Anniversary 1962–2022
Australian Design Centre and touring
31 March—25 May

Barnaby Smith