A1572 Vase, porcelain blank made by L.Bernardaud & Co., Limoges, France / decorated with cicada design by Delia Cadden, Australia, c. 1913
Sydney is currently enjoying a bumper cicada season. To me, these insects are a potent sound of summer and I enjoy their strident chorus building to a crescendo and then tapering off; the volume increasing with the heat. In a year like this everyone talks about them (not all in happy tones) and many children enjoy collecting both the insects and their discarded shells. The cicadas themselves enjoy friendly common names such as Green Grocer, Yellow Mundy and Black Prince. In spite of their fame, cicadas have not been a very common decorative motif in Australia. But there is always something in the Powerhouse Museum Collection!
2012/69/1 Mixed media assemblage ‘Deja Vu, Review’, mixed material, Kendal Murray, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 2011. Collection: Powerhouse Museum
Museums have used toys, models and dioramas to explain and comment on the workings of a larger world. Here, artist Kendal Murray has created a miniature surreal world atop an antique purse though her work Déjà vu, Review’. This sculptural mixed media offers a playful look at the domestic world and holiday culture. The miniature world draws us closer, and invites us to investigate.
Ceramic form, `Delos: Paros’, stoneware, Marea Gazzard, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1972.Exhibited in Clay +Fibre exhibition, 1973, Collection: Powerhouse Museum.
The Powerhouse Museum, along with many others in the fields of visual arts and crafts, was sad to hear of the death of Marea Gazzard, on 28th October, 2013. Marea Gazzard was an important figure in the chronology of Australian postwar ceramics, both as a significant and influential innovator in her own work and also in her support of the Australian crafts movement.
2002/79/1 Ceramic group, ‘Still life with yellow bowls’, teapots (2), bottles (4), beakers (3), bowls (2), wheelthrown and slipcast in Limoges porcelain and Southern Ice porcelain, made by Gwyn Hanssen Pigott, Ipswich, Queensland, Australia, 2002. Collection: Powerhouse Museum
Gwyn Hanssen Pigott was one of Australia’s most illustrious studio ceramicists whose fine skill and cerebral approach to her art will be greatly missed. After a 1960s to 70s repertoire of stone ware, from the 1980s Gwyn became famous for her fine and translucent porcelain forms – bottles, bowls and teapots – deceptively simple but actually requiring great technical skill and firing control. Continue reading
A3161 Earthenware oil lamp, 1st-2nd century AD
Collection: Powerhouse Museum
There is currently great excitement in London as evidence of Roman lives – wonderfully preserved in the London mud – are being extracted by archaeologists. Among the material are hundreds of Roman shoes, jewellery, waxed wooden writing tablets with their writing styli, jewellery, cosmetic tools, part of the Temple of Mithras and of course, pottery galore.
This beautiful porcelain sculpture, Forms in Succession #5 created by Japanese potter Shigekazu Nagae, dances beautifully in this video. The paper look-alike form somehow evokes the aesthetics of origami, Japanese paper folding. Made by using slip-cast techniques, the porcelain speaks of its origin yet shyly introduces itself to international audiences.
A9113 Pot, salt-glazed stoneware, Janet Mansfield, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1982
Janet Mansfield, who passed away on 4th February 2013, had a major impact on Australian and international ceramics. Born in 1934 Janet trained in ceramics at the National Art School, East Sydney, in 1964, ’65, and exhibited widely in Australia and overseas.
Janet Mansfield had over 35 solo exhibitions in Australia, Japan and New Zealand, and was included in group exhibitions in Australia and many other countries. As well as working in her own studio, eventually in Gulgong, she established the Ceramic Art Gallery in Paddington, Sydney, and ran it for many years.
Christina Sumner, Principal Curator, Design & Society in the basement with textiles, including 92/775 Suzani (needlework), Collection: Powerhouse Museum
On the eve of of Christina Sumner’s departure we asked her a few questions about her experiences at the Museum over the last 28 years.
What have you enjoyed the most about working in the Museum?
Always always always it’s been the people and the collection. I’ve been lucky enough to spend every working day with curatorial and other colleagues who are bright, interested, articulate and as passionate as I am about the collection – building it, and committing ourselves to interpret, tell stories about and communicate the meaning of our objects to the wider community.
2007/16/1 Dessert plate, Australian wildflowers, porcelain (bone china), made by Doulton & Co, painted by Louis Bilton, Burslem, Staffordshire, England, c. 1892
This beautiful dessert plate from the collection features a plant common in Sydney bushland but unusual as a subject for china painting. The plant is the Fringe Myrtle or Calytrix tetragona. Waratahs, Flannel Flowers, Christmas Bells, Wattle and Gum Leaves are frequent subjects but the Fringe Myrtle has not attracted many artists to its cause. The Museum database notes:
Collection: Powerhouse Museum. Object number 93/277/1.
Here’s a rare treat for History Week: a richly illustrated and gilded porcelain plate that links the threads we wear with history, science, and the processes used in the textile and ceramic industries. The plate was made in the French town of Sevres in 1830 and depicts textile dyeing in another French town, Jouy-en-Josas. The use of colour in these industries depended on both craft knowledge and scientific understanding, and it was achieved through cooperation between factory workers and chemists.