David Ray ✿ Four Treasons


1 June 2023

David Ray, Tank – (Winter), 2022, Earthenware, Decals, Enamel, Platinum, 23cm L., 12cm W., 19cm H.; photo: Christopher Sanders

Our June laurel is awarded to David Ray for his Four Treasons series of figurines that update the bucolic Staffordshire genre.

David Ray explains his concept.

The Industrial Revolution (1750 onwards) was a critical time of change; advances in machine technologies enabled the production of steam from coal, and then electricity which empowered efficient manufacturing processes and global transport.  Our cities became the epicentres for trade and a melting pot for developing new economic classes and political systems.

Industrialisation occurred to the detriment of our natural world, which continues today. Our cultures began to disassociate ourselves from nature, and in its place is a world driven by the economic and political market where profit and loss drive consumerism, and the control of our world’s resources.

The “Four Seasons” concept has been documented throughout many cultures to represent the order of nature, often through mythical stories and art.  The Four Season figurines made in Staffordshire England (pictured) are prime examples of how artists can reimagine nature as fantasy and turn them into a commodity.

1820s English Pearlware Staffordshire Figures of the Four Seasons; courtesy Chairish https://www.chairish.com/

“Figurines as cultural artefacts have an important role to playing enhancing awareness and understanding of human activity and its communication among peoples.” (Dr Hanz Syz- National Museum of American History) 

Using the Four Seasons narrative, I wanted to explore our current socio-political and economic structures as seasons, which led to my work The Four Treasons (2020 – 22).  This work consists of four vehicles which are allegorical constructs, representing the four-socio political-economic seasons: Propaganda (Autumn), Destruction (Winter), Rebuild (Spring), Leisure (Summer)

My studio is in the Yarra Valley, on the traditional lands of the Wurundjeri people in Victoria. It is a semi-rural area an hour’s drive from Melbourne.  Surrounded by some bushland.  It will perhaps only take a fire and strong northerly wind to burn down the town on a hot summer’s day, which will become more frequent. It’s a modern reality that you deal with more extreme weather days.

Follow @davidrayceramics and visit davidrayceramics.com.

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  • CP says:

    Thanks for the play on words Dave. Lots of fun with a deeply affecting political topic of how we all benefit from capitalism and industrialisation at natures expense. All true and it makes me blue too.