Dawn Beasley’s ceramic gardens travelling through the Northern Territory


Last year, Darwin-based artist Dawn Beasley debuted one thousand ceramic pods for the Australian Ceramic Triennale in Alice Springs. Soon after, she exhibited a garden-like collection of lotus-inspired sculptures at the Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Arts and Culture Centre in Katherine. Now, she’s showing the third and final instalment of her stunning three-part multimedia project, Botanically Porcelain.

“I love that the exhibitions have grown as they worked their way through the Territory,” says Beasley, who uses native flora as a springboard for her art. “Each location has had its own impact on the aesthetic choices made at the installation stage. In Alice Springs, the work was set against a red desert-inspired floor plinth and was very connected to the Olive Pink Botanic Gardens. In Katherine, the stark whiteness of a traditional gallery space separated the work from the natural influences and made an interesting statement about human connectedness to nature.”

Dawn Beasley (2020-21) Garden of Alchemy and Botanically Porcelain (installation view) Installed dimensions variable. Photograph by the artist.

Blooming upwards from the floor, at times Beasley’s delicate white ceramic forms appear like gold-encrusted fungi stretching up to find the light. Some forms are squat and bulbous, while others are thin and elongated. Collectively, they appear at once familiar and alien. Yet despite their visual differences, each allude to an earthy, natural world.

In contrast to the previous iterations of the series, much of the final installment, titled Seed, is under low lighting, its mass of objects recalling seed pods and fruit-like forms found in dimly lit undergrowth and quiet natural spaces. “Nature is the reference point for all of my work,” Beasley explains. “Everything starts with sketches of natural forms. As my work moves from 2D to 3D, I move away from realism, searching for forms that speak of the botanical without being species specific. This plays on the human habit of finding recognisable forms within the abstract, so viewers will find references to natural forms relevant to their own experiences.”

Botanically Porcelain: The Third Installment: Seed
Dawn Beasley
Northern Centre for Contemporary Art
1 March—30 April

This article was originally published in the March/April 2023 print edition of Art Guide Australia.

Preview Words by Briony Downes