Sophia Cai reflects on her curation for The Australian Ceramics Association exhibition at Manly Art Gallery.
For the Ceramix exhibition, thirteen artists were selected to develop collaborative works. The results were remarkable. We ask the curator, Sophia Cai, about the process of developing this concept.
✿ What gave you the idea of basing the exhibition on collaborations?
The idea actually came from TACA (The Australian Ceramics Association) and Katherine Roberts, Senior Curator at Manly Art Gallery and Museum when they were brainstorming ideas for the TACA Member’s exhibition. When I applied to be the guest curator for the show, I did so because I was really interested in further exploring collaboration and how this could unfold through a process of collaboratively making work together with the artists, TACA, and Manly. The theme interested me because it was a really engaging way to explore what ceramics could be, and could look like.
✿ Did you pair the artists or did you ask one to nominate another?
The artists chose their collaborators! For the EOI, TACA members were asked to self-nominate an artist of their choice working in another medium, and submit a proposal together. This proved to be a really fruitful way for artists to expand on existing relationships/collaborations, as well as make new connections.
✿ What did you learn from the process about making collaborations work?
Communication is key – particularly when working with so many different people (13 collaborators – 28 artists in total) over the course of almost two years. All of the work in the exhibition was made specifically for the show, so there was a certain element of trust that was required, in allowing artists the space to experiment and try out new ideas. The process of curating this show was very free and one based very much in dialogue, I was there to support the artists as they made the work together. It was a fun exhibition to work on because of this level of unexpected outcomes, although that made the install a bit more complex! Working on the show has also taught me that collaborations take work, and that it’s not a given just because two parties or more want the same outcomes. It does require patience, compassion, and empathy, and it is a constant negotiation.
Here are some examples of collaborations that include artists we’ve previously featured.
Vipoo Srivilasa and Sai-Wai Foo
Vipoo Srivilasa and Sai-Wai Foo previously bonded over a shared love for food. For this exhibition, they created a new body of work for the exhibition inspired by their favourite Asian dishes. Their work is a celebration of culinary culture while also being an affirmation of Asian-Australian cultural identity and the pivotal role that food plays in forging relationships.
Sarah Rayner and Sophie Carnell
Sarah Rayner and Sophie Carnell reference the natural world through their collaboration across porcelain and silver. The artists commenced their collaboration by posting small works to each other, and their resulting installation gives form to the enigmatic beauty of plants.
Sam Gold and Sarra Tzijan
For artists Sam Gold and Sarra Tzijan, this has been a process of ongoing experimentation with clay and different metals to create a tea setting. Through trial and error, Gold and Tzijan have created a work that responded intuitively to their working process.
The other artists are:
Glenn Barkley, Ceramics, NSW & Louise Meuwissen, Textiles, VIC
Canbora Bayraktar, Ceramics, NSW & Yeliz Yorulmaz, Mixed Media, NSW
Claybia (Cassandra Chilton & Molly O’Shaughnessy), Ceramics, VIC & The Huxleys (Garrett Huxley & Will Huxley), Performance/Fashion, VIC
Alan Constable, Ceramics, VIC & Peter Atkins, Painting/Sculpture, VIC
Sam Gold, Ceramics, SA & Sarra Tzijan, Jewellery, SA
Varuni Kanagasundaram, Ceramics, VIC & Kate Beynon, Painting, VIC
Sassy Park, Ceramics, NSW & Mara Schwerdtfeger, Music/Composer, VIC
David Ray, Ceramics, VIC & Hannah Bertram, Installation, VIC
Sarah Rayner, Ceramics, QLD & Sophie Carnell, Jewellery/Silver, TAS
Simon Reece, Ceramics, NSW & Vicky Browne, Sound/Installation, NSW
Franz Schroedl, Ceramics, ACT & Shesha Reddy, Architect/Sculpture, ACT
Vipoo Srivilasa, Ceramics, VIC & Sai-Wai Foo, Mixed Media, VIC
Eloise White, Ceramics, ACT & Noel McKenna, Painting, NSW
Ceramix is at the Manly Art Gallery 14 May – 20 June 2021
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