mud australia, designer & owner Shelley Simpson. Sydney, Australia.
Shelley Simpson, originally from a music & dramatic arts background, threw her first pot in 1993 and began a love affair with ceramic that continues unabated to this day.
Shelley initially worked with a friend creating one off, hand painted earthenware pieces but soon after realised that existing dinnerware ranges did not meet her or her friend’s needs in Sydney, a cosmopolitan city with a vibrant East meets West food culture. With this in mind, Shelley set out to design a range that provided plates, bowls and platters that combined and met the requirements of Asian and European style foods. Each shape was tested at home, with friends in the restaurant industry and with the stores who were selling the new range. Feedback and fine tuning has resulted in the current line, consisting of 30 silhouettes.
Rather than working with an existing manufacturer, Shelley decided to start her own business, mud australia, and produce the range in her own factory. This decision meant that Shelley could continue manufacturing with a handmade process that deliberately shunned mass manufactured ceramic. The unique and labour intensive manufacturing process means each piece is touched continually and accentuates the hand made nature of the items by leaving unique “fingerprints” that don’t compromise the functionality but allows the user an emotional connection that machine made ceramic can’t replicate. This process also renders the clean modern lines of the design subtly organic and allows the range to fit equally well across stark modern and traditional environments.
In late 2001, mud australia added a new porcelain range. Made from Limoges and imperial porcelain, the pigment is tinted at the slip stage to provide colour depth. Clear glaze is applied to the interior of each piece leaving the exterior with a vitrified stone-like surface that becomes smooth with handling. The end result is a product to fetishise, that perfectly combines a minimalist aesthetic with a clearly hand made finish while providing an alternative to mass produced & highly manufactured ceramic design.
– biography: Shelley Simpson and mud australia
Mud Australia website
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Graciela Olio. La Plata, Argentina.
My artistic practice is built from a poetics anchored in a cultural mixed race identity shaped by a Pre-Columbian, Hispanic-American and European immigratory past. Exceeding the anachronistic dichotomy between art and craft, I work ceramics breaking the barriers that oppose fine arts to popular arts. I give account of this complex identity in my work by gathering in it multiple cultural contributions, opening my work to the most diverse significations, to the complexities of the present time, to the mixing of different cultures by inserting and combining western topics with referents in our territory so as to articulate the most disrespectful combinations between historical events, memories of our childhood, games, power, childhood-fantasy, popular kitsch and the bestiaries, all of which are infected with a touch of humour, irony and nostalgia. This pluralist art tries to be an open space that allows for a critical look and does not turn into a place where knowledge is made up of certainties.
Quite the opposite, I prefer dialogue and questioning in interpretative positions. The interdisciplinary art is also combined in aesthetic operations which lead to reconsidering disciplinary autonomies. Art -be it ceramic, graphic, sculptural, pictorial, photographic or mixed- is the foundation of my work, in which the object is hoisted as the icon of my project. By assembling, fragmenting, multiplying, serializing, unifying, fusing, printing and modelling I work on both raw and fired material. Raw material becomes part of my ceramic work, completes it and articulates it in the foundational axis of my aesthetics: the mixed medium.
The path of my work can be brought together in thematic series which are constantly reshaped. These can be defined as: Social Satire, Saga of Discovery, Automata, Contemporary Bestiaries, Dwarfs, Self-referential work and Uselessly Decorative Objects.
- work philosophy text by artist
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Akiko Hirai Ceramics, London UK.
Things that are completely perfect and things that are completely broken appear to be in two opposite conditions, yet two conditions are the same concept as a form of completion. There is no movement in these two conditions.
The waxing and the waning moon contain an expectation of completion whether it is going to be the start or the end. We are seeing the moon at the same time we are seeing our perception of time or whatever it is, we see something progressing.
To some my work may appear to be imperfect because perfection contains only one message which is clearly defined by the maker. My attempt is to create the condition of progress in my work. Something ambiguous, unsettled and imaginative so that the user of my work sees many different aspects from the object.
- artist text “Importance of Unimportant Things”
My preference of choosing types of clay when making white ware is the dark and coarse clay most of the time. The whiteness acts as a membrane or a veil. The hints of the true nature of the material appear slightly on the surface. Dark clay which consists of many impurities induces strong chemical changes in heat and the trace of events remains under the veil when it cools down. White, on the other hand, is more stable because of its purity. It is already settled and has a feeling of “stillness”.
Superficially my work appears to be quiet in white. It does not show the rawness of Mother Nature directly. A symbolic figure always looks more perfect than the actual person he/she is. Imagination and fantasy always reinforce the imperfection and achieve the perfection with its own originality.
Therefore the completion of my work is done by the viewers. My work is a creation on its own.
- artist text “White Ware”
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Andrew Widdis. Victoria, Australia.
I make vessels from either porcelain or stoneware, depending on what suits the desired outcome.I make my own clay and glaze (keeping within a food safe range) from base materials.I have recently discovered an appreciation for Japanese tea ceremony, and in particular “wabi sabi”. Though as a Westerner with a need for symmetry, I find this difficult to do myself. I suppose it’s this and the struggle with basic elements; clay/water/fire, that keeps me challenged and thus ready to do battle again the next day.- artist statement
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Stefan Andersson. Gothenburg, Sweden.
I work with small, persistent steps. Every piece is made and made again and I take pride in a meticulous attention to detail — Be they on a large vase, teapot or the tiniest of cups. I don’t strive to be innovative and can freely draw shapes, techniques and thoughts from history. The result is a unromantic but loving study of the potters means.The pots are made at the potters wheel in small unique series. Clays, glazes and slips are studied and fired in wood, salt, gas and electric kilns to give a wide range of expressions.artist statement
artist picassa gallery
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Lorraine Robson. West Lothian, Scotland
Edinburgh born Artist, Lorraine Robson, makes beautiful, thought provoking, sophisticated hand-built ceramics that pay homage to ancient skills while embracing contemporary influences. She creates intuitively, a fusion of ideas, drawing on a kaleidoscope of images and observations to make work with a unique identity balanced between manufactured, machine made and organic references.
Inspiration, perhaps only a glimpse in the finished work, stems from Lorraine’s interest in nature, human form, primitive tools, childhood games and cross cultural museum artefacts, along with a myriad of observations from every day life.
“It intrigues me to toy with these influences outwith the context I find them in.”
With ideas, the sculptural qualities in ceramics are of utmost importance to Lorraine. That is her roots. Interest is in form rather than relying on surface colour or pattern to capture imagination. She, therefore, deliberately chooses a monochrome pallet of one overall colour to focus on subtleties of shape and form.
Her ceramic sculptures, often dictated by the classic vessel form and containment, are not designed as functional pieces. She uses coiling as her main method of construction, slab and pinching for more complex forms. The surface is then refined using metal scrapers and further worked using abrasive papers when dry. It can take upwards of six hours physical work to build each vessel over a period of weeks.
Each vessel is fired a minimum of three times in a kiln. Between each firing, the surface is sanded and polished using silicon carbide paper, then diamond abrasives, working through the grades, coarse to fine. Finally, a museum quality wax polish is applied and buffed to a soft sheen to seal the surface and enhance the colour of the naked clay.
“In a world where pressure is on instant results, dominated by commercialism and technology, I enjoy the meditative nature of allowing the form to evolve with handwork, imagination, and human labour using the most primitive and natural materials available – the earth itself”.
artist profile on axis
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