Please describe your first interaction with ceramic art.
My father is a painter. He had this great big bench covered in art supplies that was freely accessible to me growing up. When I was 3 years old, Dad used to run pottery classes in the downstairs workshop at home. Sometimes he’d let me play with clay too; but, when he fired my little bowl of beads full of glaze so they all stuck together, I knew I needed to run my own show.
In later years I went to TAFE to “learn to draw”, but found clay, and never looked back.
What area do you specialise in?
I use clay to explore concepts. Usually firing to stoneware with reduction glazes, often wood firing too. The lustrous and rich surfaces available in this genre are the seduction to flame filled firings.
Have you evolved as an artist over the past years?
Ooooh yes, each and every day. I enjoy maturing as an artist. I find myself discovering more subtlety, but there’s plenty of room to keep maturing in that regard!
What aspirations do you hope to realise over the next 2 years?
To be creative every day. To gain an overseas residency, possibly in France.
Where are you based?
My traditional Queenslander home has an airy downstairs studio with no walls, looking over a garden fernery with rare, giant Angiopteris ferns.
Do you draw inspiration from other cultures? What influence has this had on your work?
Some of my work explores ancient text, writings in cuneiform, following a thread of womens’ business through history.
What was your inspiration for Pieces of My Heart?
In this latest exhibition, the works all relate to one poem, written about a personal emotional experience. Indirectly, it all relates to myself as a woman, a mother, a lover, an individual. This show explores a deeply emotional realm, following a series of personal tragedies two years ago.
The show is predominantly ceramics, with other mediums. There is a soundscape to go with the show, recorded by my son Jessi Dunbar. The sounds are set to a backdrop of my own heartbeat. Some of the sound track is played through a ceramic speaker.
How is your marriage celebrant experience reflected in this exhibition?
Being a celebrant of marriages and funerals is an extraordinary privilege. It is ultimately about listening to, understanding and relating stories; happy and sad, wonderful and tragic, but always huge stories. My artwork also relates stories. This time it is a personal one.
It was when several other people saw the work that the inspiration to tour the show came about. The themes and emotions explored in this group of work are universal; themes of loss, renewal and flying again.
What interactive elements are in the exhibition?
The soundscape. A projection on the wall. An interactive piece that welcomes you to have a go. An online map of the world documenting where the pieces are held.
Why are you looking forward to having your work exhibited in Makers Gallery?
Stephanie has been a strong advocate for ceramics for so long. Her gallery is beautifully presented and works well for the kinds of display that I intend to put together.
How is Pieces of My Heart different to your previous exhibitions?
Pieces of My Heart is more deeply personal than I have ever been brave enough to go. My installation work has often followed themes, sometimes sociopolitical, sometimes historical. This show steps out of my comfort zone to share something quite deep; but, I only do this because it has touched other people. It is this that inspires me to show it publicly.
When someone sits and tells me their story as a result of seeing this show, then I know it has something to offer the community, a place to share story and experience, and to recognise that humans feel, feel deeply, and those feelings are universal. Someone who had lost a baby was touched. Another who had deserted a wife was touched. Many stories came out of my first local and fairly private showing of this work. A woman pastor of a local church requested that the show be presented to a wider audience. She felt that the artwork stimulated a kind of healing that sometimes words or even prayer cannot.
Pieces of My Heart will open on the 12th of February from 3.00pm, with a speech from Rainee Skinner from 4:30pm at Makers Gallery, 53 Jackson Street Clayfield.
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1 — 25 February 2017
Wed — Fri 10.00am to 2.00pm
Sat & Sun 1.00pm to 4.00pm
or other times by arrangement