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little uns

Thursday, April 02, 2009 | by Carolyn Price

Forest Fungi by Queensland-based ceramicist Shannon Garson - at the Little Uns ceramics exhibition at Pomme, Mornington, Victoria.

Forest Fungi by Shannon Garson - at the Little Uns ceramics exhibition at Pomme, Mornington, Victoria.

An exhibition of gorgeous small ceramic works will be opening tomorrow (Friday 3rd April, 2009) at Pomme on the Mornington Peninsula. Appropriately titled "Little Uns", the show will feature the work of three ceramic artists from Queensland - Shannon Garson, Mel Robson and Kenji Uranishi.

The brief for this group show was 'keep it small' and the artists were only too happy to oblige with a series of exquisite, but perfectly functional cups, jugs and vessels. (By the way, sorry for the lengthy post but it's really 4 posts in 1!)

Nests by Queensland-based ceramicist Shannon Garson - from the Little Uns ceramics exhibition at Pomme, Mornington, Victoria.

Nests by Shannon Garson - at the Little Uns ceramics exhibition at Pomme, Mornington, Victoria.

Shannon Garson is a contemporary ceramicist who has been exhibiting her porcelain works since 1990. Her aim is to explore ceramics and life through the synthesis of surface decoration and form. By transforming everyday objects such as cups and bowls into works of art, she strives to connect the visible world, gardens and plants with the intangible and the mysterious.

Shannon was awarded a Churchill Fellowship in 2005 and spent 3 months travelling in Europe studying the art of the medieval and Renaissance periods. She has just completed a major new body of work based on the magnolia tree with the assistance of an Australia Council New Works Grant.

Pale Yellow Magnolia photograph by Queensland-based ceramicist Shannon Garson.

"Pale Yellow Magnolia" photograph by Shannon Garson

Above is one of the gorgeous reference photos taken by Shannon in the magnolia orchard. (You can view more on Shannon's Flickr page.) Unlike previous work, she describes "these flowers were not about the body at all. They are about the triumph of hope, about creativity, the resonance for me lies in the knobbly, gnarled magnolia branches putting forth fragile, fragrant blossoms, the deception of appearances. The unstoppable, reassuring rhythm of reproduction is a powerful metaphor for the well-spring of creativity. Sleep-deprived, time deprived, worn out, the driest twig still produces a blossom in Spring."

Magnolia pieces in kiln by Queensland-based ceramicist Shannon Garson.

Magnolia pieces in the kiln by Shannon Garson

This is one of my favourite photos ever to appear on indie art & design! The quiet candle light gives us a glimpse through the artist's eye - a sense of anticipation, satisfaction & nervousness... that breath-catching "almost finished" feeling.

Magnolia Spring Family by Queensland-based ceramicist Shannon Garson.

Magnolia Spring Family by Shannon Garson

Shannon Garson works from her studio in Maleny, a small rural town in the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast. Her ceramic pieces can be found online at http://shannongarson.com and also on her blog Strange Fragments. She is also part of the Umbrella Collective of 6 female artists from Queensland.

Shannon's ceramics are also stocked in the following galleries:
QLD: Cairns Regional Gallery, Manly Gallery, Marks and Gardner (Tambourine), Maleny Artworks, BrisbaneFusions Gallery (Fortitude Valley)
NSW: Planet Commonwealth (Surry Hills), Salmon Galleries (Sydney), Sturt Contemporary Craft (Mittagong)
VIC: Craft Victoria (Melbourne), Crowded House Designs (Malvern), Pomme (Mornington)
ACT: Beaver Galleries (Canberra)

AND she has her own book, "Shannon Garson Porcelain"! Available here.

Little Uns by Brisbane-based ceramicist Mel Robson - at the Little Uns ceramics exhibition at Pomme, Mornington, Victoria.

Little Uns (polka dot), 2007, slipcast porcelain with inlay, 5cm x 7cm each by Mel Robson - at the Little Uns ceramics exhibition at Pomme, Mornington, Victoria.

Mel Robson's work is contemporary and diverse. I've been following her blog for a couple of years now and during this time, she has created a wide range of vessels and objects using a variety of techniques - including new processes such as waterjet cutting (as seen in Home-ing Pigeon, pictured further down this post). Her latest creations have an organic feel - using muted earth colours and soft uneven shapes.

Little Uns by Brisbane-based ceramicist Mel Robson - at the Little Uns ceramics exhibition at Pomme, Mornington, Victoria.

Little Uns (polka dot & natural), 2007, slipcast porcelain with inlay, 5cm x 7cm each by Mel Robson - at the Little Uns ceramics exhibition at Pomme, Mornington, Victoria.

I love the contrast of the small polka dots pattern with the otherwise smooth matt finish. It gives the sets a sense of energy & movement.

Recipe Bowl by Brisbane-based ceramicist Mel Robson.

Recipe Bowl, 2007, slipcast porcelain with decals by Mel Robson.

The Recipe Bowl (pictured above) is part of Mel's "Precious Little" collection. (Selected pieces were exhibited in the 4th World Ceramic Biennale in South Korea, 2007.) These works are feather weight, paper fine and entirely sculptural. Mel has upturned the concept of surface decoration by allowing decals applied to the interior of her vessels to show through the translucent ceramic. The effect is both stunning & engaging. After the original forms are thrown on the wheel, a plaster mould is made, from which the actual pieces are slipcast in porcelain. The pieces are fired, sanded & polished, then fired again before the imagery is applied using ceramic details and they enter the kiln for one last time. Pieces that survive this lengthy process end up quite strong!

Absence of Objects by Brisbane-based ceramicist Mel Robson.

The Absence of Objects (detail), 2006, slipcast porcelain with decals, 6cm x 14cmby Mel Robson.

I love the works pictured above, part of Mel's "Absence of Objects" collection. She describes finding inspiration in libraries' heritage collections - wearing white gloves while poring over old manuscripts and diaries and photographs and records and documents. "So often when we talk or think or make things about the past it is about remembering - what we remember, and the ways we remember. But what I find more fascinating is the forgetting, the process by which things get forgotten and how, in the absence of objects, whole lives and stories can just disappear. These collections fascinate me because they are little doorways into the past, little repositories of near-forgotten things, without which countless stories would have completely disappeared."

Home-ing Pigeon by Brisbane-based ceramicist Mel Robson.

Home-ing Pigeon, 2008, found ceramic plates (water jet cut) 10 x 13cm by Mel Robson.

Mel Robson's Home-ing Pigeons (one pictured above) have been cut by waterjet from either side of found vintage plates & saucers. Exhibited at Redland Art Gallery as part of the "Bird Watching" group show, the pigeons symbolise a war-time transformation from apparently mundane to extraordinary. She was inspired by stories of their survival against incredible odds to deliver life-saving messages. "Robson's ceramic works take old domestic objects of that time, imbued with the traces of their day-to-day existence, and recasts them in the shapes of these birds." (Redland Art Gallery)

You can discover more of Mel Robson's work via her blog, Feffakookan.

Tiny Vessels by Brisbane-based ceramicist Kenji Uranishi - at the Little Uns ceramics exhibition at Pomme, Mornington, Victoria.

Tiny vessels by Kenji Uranishi - at the Little Uns ceramics exhibition at Pomme, Mornington, Victoria.

Kenji Uranishi was born in Japan and studied ceramics at the Nara College of Fine Arts before moving to Brisbane in 2004. Living in Australia "provides an environment for more objective study of my own country and culture, as well as an element of freedom from historical and cultural constraints... I'm also interested in how these experiences will encourage some self-discovery and provide me with a new perspective on my relationship with Japanese culture."

Tiny Vessels by Brisbane-based ceramicist Kenji Uranishi - at the Little Uns ceramics exhibition at Pomme, Mornington, Victoria.

Tiny vessels by Kenji Uranishi - at the Little Uns ceramics exhibition at Pomme, Mornington, Victoria.

Kenji draws inspiration from the surrounding built and social environment. He is interested in and influenced by architecture and nature, and how people interact with both. His works include installation and functional objects, and the materials he uses are embedded in the history of Japanese pottery.

Ceramic works by Brisbane-based ceramicist Kenji Uranishi made during his artist residency at ANU.

Ceramic works by Kenji Uranishi made during his artist residency at ANU.

Selected new sculptural works by Kenji Uranishi will be exhibited later this year as part of the Australian Ceramics Triennale 09. "Encircle" open on 8.7.2009 at the Helen Stephens Gallery, All Hand Made in Bronte (Sydney).

Ceramic works by Brisbane-based ceramicist Kenji Uranishi made during his artist residency at ANU.

Ceramic works by Kenji Uranishi made during his artist residency at ANU.

I love the delicate surface drawings on Kenji's pieces for "Little Uns", don't you? The sculptural works are something I wouldn't have expected in ceramics - beautiful & amazing. You can discover more about Kenji's work at his blog, http://kamenendo.blogspot.com

Little People at the beach by Sandwich Mountain, a collaboration between Brisbane-based ceramicists Mel Robson and Kenji Uranishi.

The Little People at the beach by Sandwich Mountain, a collaboration between Brisbane-based ceramicists Mel Robson and Kenji Uranishi.

Mel Robson and Kenji Uranishi have also collaborated to create Sandwich Mountain - the adventures of the Little People!

The Little People in the surf by Sandwich Mountain, a collaboration between Brisbane-based ceramicists Mel Robson and Kenji Uranishi.

The Little People in the surf by Sandwich Mountain, a collaboration between Brisbane-based ceramicists Mel Robson and Kenji Uranishi.

Kenji loves hand building and first made the Little People to experiment with slip casting. When they emerged from the kiln, Mel was overcome by an incredible urge to "change the colour of THEIR day"... (Remember the 80s TV jingle for the honeycomb chocolate bar?!) Since then, the Little People have been on lots of adventures, as documented at http://sandwichmountain.blogspot.com. They've even been featured in a Brazilian magazine called GLOSS. The Little People have absolutely no idea what it says about them, and they're thinking they may have to travel to Brazil to find out...

The Little People on the moon by Sandwich Mountain, a collaboration between Brisbane-based ceramicists Mel Robson and Kenji Uranishi.

The Little People go to the moon by Sandwich Mountain, a collaboration between Brisbane-based ceramicists Mel Robson and Kenji Uranishi.

Little Uns opens tomorrow, on Friday 3rd April, and continues until 24th April 2009. Pomme is located on the Mornington Peninsula at:
Rear 138 Main Street
Mornington, Victoria. 3931.
phone: 03 59 76 3000

Pomme is open Monday to Saturday but advise you to call to check opening hours, as they might be at the beach!

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