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Presidents Report

Updated: May 29

May, 2024

Dear Members,

As usual, there is a lot happening in the world of ceramics in Western Australia.

I'm pleased to provide you with a summary of recent events and reflections within the realm

of ceramic arts, as we navigate through a period of dynamic change and exploration.

Our community has been engaged in various activities and discussions that explore and

develop and redefine the contours of contemporary ceramic practice in WA.

The talk about the Indian Ceramic Triennale held on March 21 by Matt Russell, Jenny

Wood and myself at North Metropolitan TAFE was attend by about 40 people and has been

recorded for posterity. Thank you to Bela Kotai and Lee Woodcock at the Ceramics

Department at NM TAFE for organising the venue and recording facilities and being so


Workshops and Exhibitions:

CAAWA recently hosted a MUD (Make, Understand, Demonstrate) workshop at the studio of Melanie Sharpham, focusing on the technique of slip casting. It was a valuable opportunity for our members to deepen their understanding and skills in this particular aspect of ceramic

artistry. Participants learnt about the chemistry of making slip and the all important design

considerations and skills involved in making suitable moulds for slip casting. Decorating with tissue transfer decoration was also covered. Melanie is a master craftsperson and has developed a successful practice using this method over many years. As always, it was also an opportunity to talk about ceramics in general and socialise. Thank you very much to the MUD committee for organising the event.

The WA ceramic community also had the privilege of experiencing an exhibition by the esteemed Western Australian ceramic artist, Jackie Masters, at Gallows Gallery in Mosman Park. Unique beautiful glazes and meticulous craftsmanship characterize Masters’ work. She is to be congratulated on her first solo ceramics show. I attended the opening and agreed with Gary Zeck who opened the exhibition and eloquently observed that all works were highly resolved and that the work of true artists resonated with an aura of spirit and truth. Jackie’s work is a testament to the diverse creative expressions within our ceramics community. I took the opportunity to add to my wife Jenny and my collection of contemporary Western Australian ceramics. Thanks for making work of such beauty Jackie!

Images courtesy of Jackie Masters.

Craft Practice in the Contemporary World.

CAAWA’s engagement extended beyond physical spaces to the digital realm, as a number of members participated in an online discussion forum organized by the World Crafts Council (Australasia) titled 'The Eroded Legacy: Where the hell are we?'. This forum provided a platform to explore shifts in the stylistic and aesthetic landscape of studio ceramics over the past decade, reflecting the evolving nature of our field in relation to shifting aesthetics and paradigms as one stream of contemporary practice. The term that has been used by some curators is “Maximalism’. I was the facilitator for the event and invited special guests the eminent Janet De Boos and the inimitable Fleur Schell as special guests. One of the key themes that emerged from our discussions is the evolving nature of aesthetics within the ceramic field. We are witnessing a departure from traditional notions of 'good taste' ceramics, with a growing acceptance and even celebration of what was once considered 'ugly' or deliberately naive craftsmanship.

For more notes from the discussion click on image.

Terms like 'maximalist' and 'sloppy craft' have entered our lexicon, describing a style that eschews refined techniques and embraces a less refined provocative approach that questions the very notion of skill and elegance. This shift challenges established norms and invites us to reconsider the very essence of beauty and ugliness in contemporary craft. This departure from traditional standards raises profound questions about the role of ceramics as a vehicle for societal commentary and activism and the connection between crafts practice and that of contemporary art. Can 'sloppy craft' serve as a means to express narratives of the indigenous experience, gender disparity, and the subversion of traditional roles associated with craft? Is parody and self-conscious naivety more relevant in today's world than notions of refinement and good taste?

Looking ahead, the future of ceramics holds both uncertainty and boundless potential. It is

imperative that we continue to foster a spirit of innovation and inclusivity within our community, embracing diversity and embracing the evolving landscape of our craft but also continue to value skills and refinement.

In closing, I invite all members to join us in this journey of discovery and reinvention. Together, let us shape the future of ceramic arts in Western Australia and beyond.

Please also consider putting in expressions of interest to talk, demonstrate or perform at

Wedge, The 17th Australian Ceramics Triennale in October next year. EOI’s are due by the 1st August. Feel free to encourage people that you would like to see there as well!

Warm regards,


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