Tregonning Hill natural sericite porcelain stone, Cornwall, UK
Over a career stretching back to the 1970s Steve Harrison has been many things: ceramicist, technologist and environmental activist. These roles feed in to Harrison’s practice as a potter which has a distinctive link to the traditions of Bernard Leach. Leach advocated simple and utilitarian forms and saw pottery as a combination of Western and Eastern arts and philosophies. These traditions were transmitted through the regional outpost of the National Art School, Sydney, and the founder of the ceramics department there, Peter Rushforth, who was highly influential on Harrison. Rushforth’s work married a distinctly Japanese folk craft tradition with the colours of the Blue Mountains landscape where he lived and worked. Harrison's work echoes this style.
Harrison’s ceramics take simple forms - specifically bowls and cups as a vehicle through which to articulate concerns around ceramic history, the environment, and a way of life based upon trying to touch the ground lightly. His research into kiln and clay technology has led him to a simplification of production and sourcing of materials that strips ceramics back to its origins.
His important series of bowls known as '5 stones' are made from the five naturally occurring sources of porcelain in the world: Jingdezhen, China; Yanggu, Korea; Arita, Japan; Cornwall, UK and Mittagong, Australia. Harrison's investigations into these sources stretch over 15 years, from 2002 to 2017. He is interested in the origins of these porcelain sources, specifically centred around a rock called serecite, which is ground and processed into a clay body without additives. It is this sourcing and pressing, and the making of the work near the source which is of interest to Harrison. Workng on the idea of sustainability, works are made from a 50-kilometre-wide palette of materials, not only for clay and glaze materials such as local rocks, shales, gravels and ash, but also the wood that fires the kiln.
Tregonning Hill natural sericite porcelain stone, cow-bone ash opalescent glaze
5.6 x 11.8 x 11.9 cm
Vicki Grima Ceramics Fund 2020
Not on display
© Steve Harrison
Shown in 1 exhibition
Steve Harrison: 5 stones, Watters Gallery, East Sydney, 16 Aug 2017–02 Sep 2017