Sculptural form, 'Ceramic Parcel', stoneware, Joan Grounds, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1972
Joan Grounds (b.1939) trained in sculpture and ceramics with Peter Voulkos in the USA in the mid-1960s. After two years in Africa she arrived in Australia in 1968. She started teaching at East Sydney Technical Collage (with Peter Rushforth) and also worked at the Tin Sheds, Sydney University when they set up in 1969.
Grounds has only one static, at Watters Gallery in 1972 (and Powell Street Gallery, Melbourne immediately following this). The ceramic parcel is one of the later works in this show, and was also exhibited at Powell Street.
Grounds' other temporal works reflects a 'reaction, against the male monuments of Abstract Expressionism', as well as influences from her time in Africa and an interest in contemporary dance of the time (through a subscription to Village Voice).
In contrast, the ceramic works were to do with an investigation of the nature of 'function' in ceramics, endorsed by Rushforth. Rushforth and Grounds held opposing views, but Grounds 'respected Rushforth's deliberate efforts to employ those working from different positions'. The works started as cups stuck on boxes, with transformation from 3D to 2D. One, in the form of a letter, was sent to a friend, then others similar were made. These were followed by about 20 parcels each with functional ceramics inside. The 'wrapping' shrank in the firing process to reveal the shapes inside.
Grounds does not consider this work as 'funk'. It was both an investigation into the nature of functional ceramics, and a vehicle for social comment. Some parcels dealt with issues such as a recent obscenity case, or the Australian purchase of F1/11s which were screen printed onto the stamps.
Grounds thinks she may have been the first ceramic artist in Australia to use screen printing on ceramics. This came about through her involvement at the Tin Sheds whee she and her students set up a photographic darkroom.