From there to here : Australian studio potters/ceramic artists - postwar to postmillennium

Publication Type:
Thesis
Issue Date:
2005
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NO FULL TEXT AVAILABLE. Access is restricted indefinitely. ----- 'This is a voyage of discovery, obsession and the ordinary. If you are looking for a book about sex, crime and murder, put this down immediately. There is sensuality in these pages, sweat and lust and mysteries to be solved but (I did warn you) this is about clay and the strange things it does to people.' So begins the introduction to my thesis. I write about a passion for the medium of clay, a passion that reshaped my life and that of thousands of others. The focus of the thesis is on eight studio potters/ceramic artists who have influenced the development of Australian studio ceramics postwar and is based on interviews with them. However my intention is not just to tell their stories but to place their narratives within wider narratives of philosophy, history, aesthetics and personal experience, creating mandalas using a variety of voices and structures, from the historian to the fiction writer to the prose poet. The aim is to engage the reader and bring them as close as possible to the experience of making and an understanding of why people are willing to devote their lives to handmade ceramics in the age of I.T. On this journey, I look at a book that inspired an entire postwar movement, and its author, Bernard Leach; I rummage round in etymology and visit Michelangelo and Neoplatonist philosopher Marsilio Ficino in Renaissance Florence, searching for the roots of the divide between art and craft. There is an examination of human creativity through a prehistoric ritual, birdsong and an Aboriginal necklace. I travel from China along the Silk Route, following the lust for 'white gold', the secret of porcelain, to Europe and a king's obsession. I enjoy the way a pot can bridge the two worlds of domesticity and the art gallery, in that something that is beautiful can also be functional. Or not. Somewhere I remember reading about a person visiting Lucie Rie's home and seeing Hans Coper's vase forms, the very same austere vessels that today are enshrined beyond touch in museums, seeing them filled with flowers. In this thesis I am bridging the two worlds of the ceramist and the general reader, of clay and writing. The first words were written on clay tablets, I hope some of that dust still clings to these pages.
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