Review: Life Force installation by Lie Fhung

By Penny Craswell

Indonesian-born, Hong Kong-based artist Lie Fhung has created an installation work called Life Force II that was recently shown as part of her solo exhibition “Life Force” at the dia.lo.gue artspace in Jakarta.

Lie Fhung, Life Force II 2017, Photo: Sefval Mogalana

The installation features Fhung’s signature materials – clay and metal – consisting of a series of hanging elements in porcelain, glass and copper wire, dramatically lit against the matte black and dark timber-floored exhibition space. Each of the porcelain pieces is fragile, made with super thin clay. Lit as they are, some encased within glass bell jars, these objects acquire a certain precious quality, like little birds with broken wings.  Read more

Object stories: Paper series ceramics by Hayden Youlley

By Penny Craswell

Sydney-based ceramicist Hayden Youlley’s Paper Series translates the random creases from a crumpled piece of paper into an imprint that offers the perfect balance of chaos and control. “I cast this form by hand in porcelain, transforming the often-discarded flawed object, fragile and temporary, into something robust and permanent,” he says.

Paper series in colour by Hayden Youlley. Photography: Amanda Prior
Paper series in colour by Hayden Youlley. Photography: Amanda Prior

 

Youlley works from his studio in Sydney’s Marrickville, using a slip casting process for his Paper Series as well as his other ranges, Tessalate and I.M Light. Read more

Winners: Royal Doulton UNSW Art and Design Award

By Penny Craswell

I was delighted to be asked to judge the Royal Doulton UNSW Art and Design Award last month, in which students re-imagined Royal Doulton’s future in a collection of homeware and interior objects. The work was fantastically varied, with some students focusing on ceramics, some on metal, graphic design, textiles and other specialisations. The collections were inspired by the geometry found in nature, with prototypes supported by designs for retail display and point of sale, product packaging and Royal Doulton brand identity collateral. Each student also made a video about their entry, and there were some really creative responses – we almost wished we could give awards just for the videos.

Ripples by Joseph Turin, winner of the Royal Doulton UNSW Art and Design Award 2016. Image: supplied
Ripples by Joseph Turrin, winner of the Royal Doulton UNSW Art and Design Award 2016. Image: supplied
The winner was Ripples by Joseph Turrin, a series of ceramic pieces with patterns from nature created by painting, then sponging off the clay around it. The other three finalists were Phase by Annie Kuang, a teapot and cup set with a simple and clever geometry based on the atoms in a H2O molecule, Vessels for Change by Tulla Carson, a set of vases that featured markings based on the points of a map of Sydney, and River by Sherli Liu, a tea set with shapes reminiscent of architecture set on a timber board with moving elements inspired by the motion of water in a river. Read more

Design and Indigenous Australia: Lucy Simpson and Nicole Monks

By Penny Craswell

As a source of inspiration for designers and architects, Australian Indigenous culture should not be underestimated. At a recent talk on shield carving by Andrew Snelgar and Simon Penrose at the Art Gallery of NSW, I saw first hand the beauty of traditional shields, tools and weapons made by hand. I also learnt about practices such as the harvesting of timber from trees – up to two thirds of a tree can be removed without killing it.

 

Dhina digital print scarf. Image: courtesy © Lucy Simpson
Dhina digital print scarf designed by Lucy Simpson. Image: courtesy © Lucy Simpson

Two contemporary Indigenous designers drawing on Indigenous Australian traditions in their practices are Lucy Simpson, a textile and graphic designer who sells scarves, textiles, jewellery and objects under the name Gaawaa Miyay, and Nicole Monks, a designer working across art, interiors, fashion, set and surface design (Lucy and Nicole are both participants in the Arts NSW 2016 Indigenous Design Mentorship scheme facilitated by the Australian Design Centre). Read more

Review: Connecting creators at Factory Design District

By Penny Craswell

It was bad luck that the worst storm to hit Sydney in decades happened to coincide with the most exciting new design event to make its debut in the city this year. Factory Design District is the brainchild of Kobe Johns who brought her previous experience on DesignEX and London Design Festival to the event, which ran over three days as part of Vivid Ideas.

Johns now runs joinery workshop JP Finsbury with her partner (in work and in life) Adam Price and envisaged Factory Design District as a way for manufacturers and makers to connect with the design industry and the design-loving public.

Factory Design District, held in Sydney in June 2016. Photo: Fiona Susanto
Factory Design District, held in Sydney in June 2016. Photo: Fiona Susanto

The mission of the event, which included stands by some 30 exhibitors, was to start a dialogue between those people who work in timber, metal, fabric etc. and those who are curious about the process of making, or who may want bespoke or off-the-shelf Australian-made and designed goods. Read more

Five designer-maker stories from Simple Shape

By Penny Craswell

A wide-ranging discussion with Helen Osgerby, design lover and the brains behind online store Simple Shape, takes in the changing precinct of Deptford in London, serendipitous encounters with like-minded individuals, the role of narrative and storytelling in design, and the (almost literally) polar-opposite weather: balaclava-cold in London, oven-hot in Sydney.

Our rapport is instant, despite the distance, perhaps thanks to Osgerby’s approach to design, which is very much focused on storytelling. “When something has a story attached it, it has a resonance,” explains Osgerby. “That was one of the things that was important in thinking about the business. It’s about quality too – feeling a glass jug is handblown for example, it’s very skilled and unique and incredible.”

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The pastel ceramics collection by Elliott Ceramics, Simple Shape. Photo: supplied.

The pastel collection by Elliot Ceramics, Simple Shape. Photo: supplied.
The pastel collection by Elliot Ceramics, Simple Shape. Photo: supplied.
I first heard about Simple Shape from Helen’s husband Jay Osgerby, half of London design studio Barber Osgerby, so it’s no surprise to learn that Helen is fully immersed in the design community, with plenty of knowledge and contacts (she tells me a story about working with “jelly architects” Bompas and Parr for an event where they decided it would be great fun to explode some jelly). 
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Object stories: Illusory ceramics by Jin Eui Kim

By Penny Craswell

South Korean-born, Cardiff-based ceramicist Jin Eui Kim has created a series of ceramics using a layering technique that results in patterns with an optical illusion effect. I discovered his work at the Contemporary Ceramics Centre in London and was immediately impressed by the precision of the pieces, and balance of form and patternation.

OPject Instability no.9, D: 30.8 cm × H: 6.7 cm, 2015, Jin Eui Kim
OPject Instability no.9, D: 30.8 cm × H: 6.7 cm, 2015, Jin Eui Kim

Jin throws the pots on the wheel and then applies paint in 18 tonal bands from black through to grey and white to create a distinct stripe that deceives the eye, playing with concave and convex shapes. The occasional red or pink band serves as a highlight, while the finish is matte rather than gloss, providing a muted effect that is subtle and beautiful. Read more

Irish Design at Tent London

By Penny Craswell

At Tent London during the London Design Festival, I was impressed to see the high quality of Irish design at a government-funded exhibition organised by the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland. Called ‘Ó’, meaning ‘from’ in Gaelic, the exhibition’s focus was on design informed by decades-old craft techniques, remote locations and local materials. And they didn’t just show the finished works, but also presented live demonstrations of the crafts practitioners at work.

Atlantic Herringbone Throw by Foxford Woollen Mills, Fox & Rabbit and Bellevue Folly puzzle by Saturday Workshop, Multi purpose oak board by Tony Farrell. Photo: supplied
Atlantic Herringbone Throw by Foxford Woollen Mills, Fox & Rabbit and Bellevue Folly puzzle by Saturday Workshop, Multi purpose oak board by Tony Farrell. Photo: supplied

I saw ceramicist Adam Frew throw a beautiful bowl on the wheel and everyone around was mesmerised – with very few watching through their phones (rare in this day and age!). He prefers to work by throwing pots, using white porcelain, because it allows him to be fast and spontaneous in his making: “It is important to maintain a flow in the production while constantly developing the work. It is an on-going journey with every new piece inspired by the previous form,” says Adam (ref: Give Irish Craft). Read more

Top 10: Beautiful ceramics

By Penny Craswell

Did you know that the Dutch craze for blue and white ceramics was, at least in part, the result of piracy? In 1603, the Santa Catarina, a Portuguese merchant ship, was seized by the Dutch East India Company off the coast of Singapore with over 100,000 pieces of Chinese porcelain on board. Even though Holland was at war with Portugal at the time, there’s no doubt that this was an act of piracy – the crew were vouchsafed their lives in return for handing over the loot. When this cargo was sold in Amsterdam, it caused a great sensation, and blue and white ceramics became the hottest trend in town, not just for the aristocracy, but for everyone.

Celebrating 500 years of medieval Dutch painter Jhernimous Bosch is Jheroplate white by Royal Delft
Celebrating 500 years of medieval Dutch painter Jhernimous Bosch is Jheroplate white by Royal Delft



Although the potters in Delft originally copied the Chinese designs due to the huge popularity of the originals from that ship, they began incorporating Dutch motifs and original designs through the 1600s, and Defltware became the most popular and biggest selling makers of ceramics from 1600 to 1800. The style is still popular today and it’s possible to visit the factory of Royal Delft to see ceramics being the made the same way they have been for over 400 years.
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Royal Doulton celebrates 200 years of ceramics

By Penny Craswell

I knew that Royal Doulton’s celebration of 200 years in Sydney was going to be special from the moment I received an invitation printed on the back of a plate. With an image of a bowler-hatted gent standing in Sydney harbour painted by street artist Nick Walker, one of Royal Doulton’s most recent collaborations, this elaborate gesture was the first of a series of wonderful moments, especially for a ceramics nerd like me.

Royal Doulton's 200 year anniversary, Sydney. Photo: Penny Craswell
Royal Doulton’s 200 year anniversary, Sydney. Photo: Penny Craswell
Invitation on a plate! Photo: Penny Craswell
Invitation on a plate! Photo: PC

The event itself was spectacular, held in a cavernous space at Sydney’s Fox Studios, with a specially-built timber-gridded mini pavilion constructed inside, showing groupings of the work on each shelf. In the next room, a sit down dinner was held along five long tables – one for each designer/collection. Read more