Ebony Russell

‘Clay Dynasty’ – Powerhouse Museum

How do you think your commission sits within the exhibition Clay Dynasty? 

Responding to a piece in the collection at the Powerhouse Museum was an incredibly unique experience – one that allowed me to bring together so many aspects of my practice. Historically charged, technically driven and emotionally engaged with my experience as a viewer, maker and inheritor of the ceramic tradition – The Wedgewood vase sits comfortably in the ceramic continuum and I wanted to make a piece that reached back through history and carried it forward to the 21st Century.What does it mean to be part of such an incredible staging of Australian studio ceramics?

Being included in Clay Dynasty is an acknowledgment that I am part of the living tradition of Australian studio ceramics and my contribution to the craft. It definitely validates my practice and the three decades that I have been focused on learning and experimenting with the medium.

The show has been curated to show the evolution of studio ceramics in Australia in the last 50 years. Are there any artists in this exhibition who have significantly influenced your own practice?

Lynda Draper and Sandra Lockwood have both been the most influential to my practice.

I met them both shortly after completing my undergraduate degree in the early 2000s. Draper’s work is so dynamic and is in a constant state of flux. Her work is mysterious, it captivates me completely; it’s always relevant, the epitome of au courant.

Lockwood’s experimental approach has shaped the way I work with porcelain. Her relationship with the medium is inspiring and has encouraged me to push the boundaries while also incorporating porcelain’s inherent qualities. I was lucky to have both as supervisors at The National Art School where I completed my MFA in 2018/19. This was a transformational time for me. 

The work of Margaret Dodd also stands out for me, shaping my feminist approach to ceramics. Her 1982 film ‘This Woman is not a Car’ has had a profound effect on my work, both theoretically and aesthetically.

To exhibit alongside these three artists may be the biggest honour of my career. – Ebony Russell

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