Complexity is the new Black (in Ceramics)


Is it just me?

Or is there an accelerating number of potters and artists working in clay making physically more complex work?

I'm not talking complex surface decoration here. Yes, complex colour and surface pattern decoration has aways been a recurrent part of decoration on simple plate and vase forms.  Complex forms have been historically less common, as they can easily be chipped or broken.  Orthodox ceramics thinking was that pots had to be simple forms, so they could be very quickly made, and sold.  Our fragile financial  survival depended upon it (well, that didn't last long with cheap imports).  There are aesthetic reasons too:  during my 2D-centric art school training, work had to be "resolved" - that is distilled down to just the simple object or image.  Simplicity was very "French" (good).  Also, Pots had to to simple forms so they can be properly cleaned, for hygiene reasons.  Plus the quickest way to make ceramics is slip casting, very sim…

The shortest Sydney Ceramics shopping list

On a recent quick trip to Sydney I tried to see and meet as many fellow "clayaholics".

By chance I managed to be in Sydney during the week of most of the post secondary exhibitions were on, so that both my spare days and evenings were clay-full.

The recommended first stop in Sydney is the Kerrie Lowe Gallery, 49–51 King Street, in Newtown.  Two reasons for this, first they exhibit in their "shop" a who's who of ceramics, with a very broad range of aesthetics.  Secondly, as Kerrie and Elizabeth also sell clay supplies, fellow artists tend to promote their exhibitions via them.  So they always know what's on around Sydney.

An alternative would be the Mansfield Gallery / Mansfield Ceramics, at L1, 99 Crown Street Darlinghurst.  Here they are a gallery, publish 3 international ceramic journals as well as organise the Clay Gulgong festival.

The highlight was the Northern Beaches TAFE  ceramics exhibition at the Brookvale, Opening on the evening of Wednesday 29 …


Street Art is now trendy "hot", as every city races to decorate walls in their area.

But painting on walls has been around before this, remember graffiti?  That anti social behaviour of the disenfranchised and alienated young?  Even before this all happened, look to Greece and Roman times, such as the colourful murals  at Pompeii.  Way before there were even walls, people painted in caves nearly 35,000 years ago.

Much more recently I was employed by a high school to assist their talented art students design and paint a pictureon a local bus stop shelter.  It was funded by a local government as a way to hide and discourage the ugly graffiti that kept popping up there.   Perhaps it was also a way to stop the same students tagging the bus stop?  By altering their visual aesthetic, the new images were more acceptable to the general adult public. 

So street art was legal, taught in WA schools and sponsored by government, while graffiti art was illegal.

Not surprising over time street…

2019 Venice Biennale: Transparency does not make a bigger eye of a needle.

Great stuff Mr Kelly! 
As the 2017 Biennale draws to a close,  it is delightful reading this article, and the resulting debate below the article, and then realising how the recommendations there became fact.   
It seems the small decision making clique were very thin skinned to the criticism and quickly appointed the recommended artist, for all the reasons given.
The October 2017 decision by the Australia Council to move to greater transparency (and not consult Simon Mordant and others), may be due to criticism outlined here by  Kelly et al.,  or to follow the international trend towards more transparency (, or simply because the Venice Biennale itself asked them to do it (Matthew Westwood, Doors of Pavilion opened to all, The Weekend Australian newspaper, October 28-29 2017, The Nation 3).
But the problem is not uniqu…

Upcoming America and Europe workshops: 2018

Upcoming workshops: 2018
Just a quick note that I may be running a series of paper clay workshops in the US in late 2018.

A few weeks ago I begun email discussions with a couple of places which have expressed interest in this.  If you are in the US, Canada, or even south America, do get in touch with me asap, as it is quickly being organised.

If you are interested, please quickly check the list below.

See my website for a list of past, present and possible workshops.  That list is always up to date i.e. confirmed workshop, unconfirmed works at 

Use the link on that webpage to contact me, so I can be mindful of your initial interest, in my discussions with possible workshop hosts.

What the hell are you trying to do?

While checking for bad links on my website I came across something I had written a few years ago, which sums up perfectly my intentions for the "Critical Mass" sculpture to be exhibited in Venice shortly.

"Moreover, unlike many artists who work alone in their studios, my studio practise is a very social experience. I share an open plan studio with 4 other artists and over 60 students. 

Being in an inner city park, we see hundreds of people relaxing, socialising and drinking outside, as well receive a steady stream of often unannounced visitors. 

Both consciously and unconsciously, all these things feed into my thinking and making.  

As artists, we sometimes forget that our sole role is to gift others unique personal and collective experiences. There is a tremendous feeling of liberation when we live solely to create such experiences, rather than to purely make objects (or commodities). 

Visual artists and crafts people sometimes become confused, obsessing narrowly on the ima…

The Black List

In the past, the personal taste of a very small homogeneous pool of senior Hollywood film company directors directly controlled which scripts were made into films.

"There was no efficient mechanism by which people with talent could even make the industry aware of their talent..." source: 4 Mar 2017, 7:41 the greatest films never made. Alex Wagner AFR p30-32

Change came when in 2005 when "Franklin Leonard surveyed almost 100 film industry development executives about their favorite scripts from that year that had not been made as feature films. This list of scripts became the first ever Annual Black List. Since then, the voter pool has grown to about 500 film executives, 60% of whom typically respond. The Annual List has served to help spotlight scripts which would go on to earn over $26 billion in worldwide box office and to receive 256 Academy Awards nominations and 48 wins, including Best Pictures SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, THE KING'S SPEECH, ARGO and SPOTLIGHT, and ten o…