Clay Stories

I am a Toronto-based ceramic artist and arts journalist. I am also someone who has invested a great deal of time and academia in dissecting society’s relationships with “the other” with respect to art and artistic expression. With that in mind, I was determined to seek out the ever-growing Aboriginal ceramics communities in Australia. This past fall I spent three months in residency in Sydney, and a week in November in the Northern Territory. I not only saw the sights and hiked the awe-inspiring trails, but I spent quality time with the Hermannsburg Potters just north of Alice Springs in Central Australia. Unfortunately, logistics prevented me from visiting the Ernabella Arts Centre and artists Derek Thompson and Tjimpura Williams whom I had met at the Big Pot Factory in Jingdezhen, China in 2013. While in Alice Springs, I found out that Thompson’s work was featured in a two-person show at the Art Gallery of South Australia as part of Tarnanthi, the biennial festival of contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. I managed a side-trip to Adelaide on my way back from the Northern Territory to experience Tarnanthi. I came full-circle when I travelled to Canberra to see Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters at the National Museum of Australia and came face to face with the vessel that I had photographed Thompson making in China. Global synchronicity in the ceramics community never ceases to amaze me. Thompson is just one of the twenty-two Aboriginal ceramic artists who is showcased in the currently touring exhibition, Clay Stories: Contemporary Indigenous Ceramics from Remote Australia.