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Clay: Collected Ceramics - From Earth to Art by the Hands of Brisbane's Ceramic Artists.

In a world where the traditional lines between art and craft are becoming increasingly blurred, there’s an exciting shift happening in the Australian art scene.

Ceramics, once regarded primarily as functional ware, are now being recognised as contemporary art forms worthy of the spotlight. This paradigm shift is brilliantly showcased in Clay: Collected Ceramics, accompanied by Commune, an exhibition by the Museum of Brisbane as part of BAD (Brisbane Art and Design), 2023.

gallery view of pottery with clay mural in the background

The exhibition, featuring solely clay pieces, is not just an assembly of ceramics; it’s an immersive journey into the world of contemporary art through the eyes of a potter. The main exhibition features commissioned work from established and emerging Brisbane based artists as well as pieces from Kylie Johnson of Paper Boat Press’ collection.

It’s sister showcase Commune signifies The Museum of Brisbane’s “largest community project to date.”. For this exhibition, ceramic artists practicing in Brisbane were invited to submit an original artwork responding to the theme “memory vessel.” The theme was up to interpretation with participants only required to adhere to the rules that the vessel must be original, within the size restraints and had to have been fired.

"Clay: Collected Ceramics is more than an exhibition, it's a testament to the evolving nature of art and the transformative power of clay. "

A Harmonious Curation

Walking through Clay, you’ll immediately notice the thoughtful curation. The artworks are arranged with an artist’s eye, creating an environment that feels like a singular masterpiece. It’s not an eclectic mix of inharmonious pieces but a cohesive and captivating art experience.

The central placement of the featured artists’ work is striking against the backdrop of the raw clay mural, a remnant of the evolving performance installation by Yuggera and Biri artist, Judy Rallah.

a brush turkey vase by Jane Du Rand
Jane Du Rand, Thriving Bush Turkeys, 2023, ceramic and mosaic.

Light and Sound Magic

Subtle yet impactful, the light and sound design in the exhibition enhance the overall experience. They complement the artworks without overpowering them, adding an extra dimension of immersion.

Connecting with Artists

One of the highlights is the display of commissioned artists’ full-body portraits, establishing a human connection between creators and viewers. These central figures proudly present their work on elegant plinths, highlighting their significance without overshadowing others.

With Commune portraying a talented benchmark of local arts and Clay: Collected Ceramics showing the work from renowned artists and exiting contemporary trailblazers, Brisbane’s ceramic artist demographic is well and truly represented.

a large collection of pottery by different artists in clay: collected ceramics.
A gallery shot of ceramics by various artists.

Renowned Artists

Carl McConnel
Gwyn Hanssen Piggot
Milton Moon
Lyndal Moor
Kevin Grealy

Contemporary Artists

Bonnie Hislop
Nicolette Johnson
Jane du Rand
Kenji Uranishi
Steph Woods
Jody Rallah

A Tribute to the Earth

A stunning mural on the museum wall, crafted from wet, unfired clay, serves as a reminder of the medium’s earthly origins. It creates a breathtaking backdrop that pays homage to the land and dirt from which these incredible works of art are born.

a series of colourful pots in varying shapes
Steph Woods, Continuum, 2023, coil built ceramic sculptures.

Final Thoughts

In addition to the commissioned work, the callout to local ceramicists yielded an influx of entries of varying styles, concepts, and techniques from diverse artists all over Brisbane. This encompassing display is the perfect accompaniment for the primary exhibition., from uncovered talent to emerging and established artists, the two provide a representation of the ceramics landscape of Brisbane

Rosie Bird

Rosie is an artist and creative innovator from Brisbane Australia. With two fine arts degrees and years of experience in the contemporary art world, she has acquired a wealth of industry knowledge. She founded open-folio as a way of creating a vibrant online community of contemporary artists and helping them reach their fullest potential.

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