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MAY 5th – JUNE 5th

JULIE BARTHOLOMEW, ANNA CULLITON, MEIKE DAVIS, LISE EDWARDS, ROBERT LINIGEN, SUSIE McMEEKIN, SIMON REECE, LINDA SEIFFERT and CAMERON WILLIAMS 

A group exhibition showcasing a collection of masters in their field in this dynamic and thought provoking show. 

OPENING EVENT – Saturday May 7th from 2pm. Officially opened by Bernadette Mansfield

A WORD FROM BERNADETTE MANSFIELD
If you missed the festivities of the opening of our current exhibition ’Hands on Clay 2’ on now till June 5th, we would like to share some words from the wonderful Bernadette Mansfield who so generously officiated the opening….
“It is so fitting that here, in Lithgow, it is a group show I have been asked to open; whereby bringing artists together it amplifies and echoes the fact that every artist’s story is a testament to resilience, and a demonstration of resourcefulness.
Lithgow (named, of course, after Scotsman William Lithgow) was established as part of the vision of Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth’s and their proposal to cross the mountains in 1814. Overseen by William Cox who ‘supervised’ 24 convicts to build the 12 foot wide roads these convicts managed to successfully construct a mountain crossing and reach Bathurst six months later.
It did not take too much longer for Lithgow and its miners to quickly develop a world-wide reputation for being some of the hardest working coal miners in the world.
This town is also widely known for its strong unionised activity and produced a Prime Minister in Joseph Cook in 1913 who arrived here as a 12 year old miner from England and began his political career here in the socially conscious Vale of Clwydd Miners Lodge.
We also know, as much has also been written about, how aboriginal people, by the 1820s actively resisted European occupation leading to horrific consequences.
This region, despite its relative isolation and small population, and through hard work and determination, became the fourth largest city in Australia with thriving industries including coal mining, copper smelting, woollen mills, iron and steel, refrigeration, shale oil refining, production of small arms, power generation.
But one of its other great natural assets, is clay.
Following the discovery of clay deposits in 1870 in the Lithgow Valley the Lithgow Valley Colliery Brickworks was established. And the English potter, James Silcock established the first pottery here in 1879.
Moving beyond Lithgow, the Blue Mountains region has become home to artists from all over Australia who share the resilience, tenacity, determination, resourcefulness, sense of community and social consciousness of those who built and established the smaller towns, up and over the mountains, leading to this place where we stand now….” Enlightened understanding and respect continue to grow and develop for the people who lived here for thousands of years before colonisation – and we do see this particularly in the mountain region. WALUWIN This exhibition, featuring 9 artists, does indeed bear testimony to my opening statement, regarding 9 individual stories that reveal much about the maker, their histories, their beliefs, their lives, their skills – and proves why artists are one of the most important groups of people of any society. MEIKE DAVIS uses clay to investigate what it is to be oh! so very human making work that speaks to each of us. Davis captures the nuance of a moment that is incredibly easy for us to step into, and understand something about ourselves. LISE EDWARDS series of works investigates the aging process and the remnants of our earlier lives that remain with us. Edwards sculptures have a relatability that escapes none of us and the poetic poignancy of her personal circumstances is easily wrapped in our own. ROBERT LINIGEN the story attached to Linigen’s work never fails to surprise and enlighten. Each pot is imbued with a narrative so rich and so Australian (most specifically the mountain region) it is hard not to hold a work and feel an instant connection. That perfect marriage each artist strives for  – between concept and technique – is easily recognisable in Linigen’s work. SUSIE MCMEEKIN is an artist who continues a legacy established by her father, Ivan McMeekin, and that is (put simply but mighty difficult to achieve ) the pursuit of excellence. Each work, even the humble cup or jug, is a work of fine art and within it, with every use, there is more to be discovered. SIMON REECE is a maker who continually challenges himself and the material he works with. His thirst for breaking new ground regarding what he can achieve appears unquenchable. He is an artist who works across an extraordinary size range and colour palette and it is perennially fascinating to see what he produces next. JULIE BARTHOLOMEW is one of Australia’s leading ceramic artists, who has investigated different subject matter over many decades, in various iterations, but always with outstanding success. The series she is exhibiting here is important on many levels and a further extension of her passion for the environment. LINDA SEIFFERT – I watched Seiffert as a young student at the National Art School and rarely do you spot someone so young who you know (quite simply) has, quite simply ‘got it’ – that undefinable thing that sets people apart. Her work is mesmerising and meditative, in equal measure, and she is an important artist in our field. KWIRAK CHOUNG – Kwirak is highly regarded in the field of ceramics by absolutely everyone. And that is not an over-statement. Not only is his work sublime, holding within each piece fine craftsmanship and firing ability, but he is up there as one of the nicest people working in clay in Australia. The mountains are blessed to have Choung as a member of their artists community – a man so quietly dedicated to his craft which is so obvious in each fine work he makes. CAMERON WILLIAMS – I’ve left Cameron until last, quite deliberately, for a few reasons… not least that he is one of Australia’s most eminent masters of ceramics. Williams, and his wife Colleen, ran the Lithgow Pottery for several years and re-established it as an important site for Australian potters. Groups of students from places such as the National Art School would attend workshops there and Williams was, and continues to be, one of the most generous of artists regarding passing on of knowledge and expertise. He is, and I can speak personally to this, one of the most highly regarded teachers of ceramics in the field. His work tells you much about the man and the artist and is held in a vast number of collections. To Sharon and the team at Gang Gang Gallery, heartfelt thanks for your on-going support of artists, especially those working with clay. Lithgow is a better place with you, your family and your gallery, in it.I have always loved Lithgow, its rich history and the powerful stories that it has borne. To the artists, the greatest of congratulations.You have chosen careers that add so much to the world, but unfortunately, with so little (in many situations) financial reward.Your lives as artists make you vulnerable to fads and fashion and tastes, distaste and lack of understanding, with opinion being amplified over judgement. Two very different things.You have all stayed true to your individual paths and make work exemplifies skill and concept and enriches our lives and our world. 
On behalf of us all. Thank you.
                   Bernadette Mansfield

ARTISTS

JULIE BARTHOLOMEW

Honeycombing is a new project created in response to environmental issues and the declining population of bees. A series of terracotta vessel forms are inspired by the architecture of honeycombing, and the exquisite prismatic shapes created by bees in the wild. The Honeycombing series is the extension of an ongoing project titled Habitat that aims to bring greater visibility to the global decline of bee populations by building innovative and habitable clay beehives.

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MEIKE DAVIS

Meike’s work has evolved from carving in stone and timber, to working with clay and ceramics.
Largely figurative, Meike tends to work in the narrative expressing the human story.
Meike is a member of the Sculpture Society and has exhibited with the Sculpture Society since 1998.

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LISE EDWARDS

ButterflyMy mother was a formidable woman. Elegant,  resourceful and independent. She went through the blitz in London. She brought up 3 girls on her own.Now as she turns 90 she has gone into full time care.It has fallen to me to sort through her possessions, pack up her memories  and clear her home of 40 years before it’s sold.As I dismantle my mother’s life it feels like I’m slowly taking her apart.Removing traces of her.She is fading.Her body is frail and weak and her skin is wrinkled. Her eyes aren’t always as penetrating as they once were. Her mind is more often alert than not but she forgets the things she wants to remember. She is becoming invisible. While she is well cared for, no one asks her for advice or her opinion anymore. People talk about her while she’s there, invisible in the room. She’s old. Her life is behind her. But… inside is the spark that always drove her, the passions, dreams and desires remain. She makes plans she’ll no longer achieve. She wants to fly but her wings are well and truly broken.“Butterfly ” is a series of stylised figures depicting our aged selves. Grounded and dull but still with our wings or remnants of them. The desire to fly and the memory of an elegance and poise that used to be and the fleeting time we have to become ourselves before we disappear.

Tresesa Moores Died 12th April 2022  (1932 – 2022)

Released into a different realm to drift in meadows green, dancing now on wildflowers, once more. she will be seen….

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ROBERT LINIGEN

Using Weed Ash Glazes

Not long after the 2013 bushfires, we moved to a house on the edge of a Blue Mountains hanging swamp at Leura. It had beautiful parts but was mostly overgrown with invasive weeds. I set to slowly restoring the bush, clearing the woody weeds, drying them in piles, burning off in the winter and collecting the ash.

Wood ash has been used as a ceramic glaze material for hundreds of years. It contains the elements that the plant has taken from the soil as it has grown. The ash is a unique fingerprint of the location, the soil, the species and even which part of the plant is used. By using this my local ash I hoped to bond with this new place and make something positive from the bush pests.

I had burned mixed piles of weeds at the beginning, but later I became a weed aficionado and made separate piles of each species, so I can make a glaze with the ash of just one type of weed, kind of like a fine single malt whisky.

You have to burn a huge volume of weeds to collect a small bucket of ash, so there is usually only enough glaze to make a few pots with each small batch. Each new batch of ash is a little different, so when it runs out, it’s gone forever and I have to try something new. It can be frustrating but I think there’s a bit of a metaphor for life there.

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SUSIE McMEEKIN

This body of work has been put together during the past two years post the fire season of 2019/2020. Covid allowed me time to think and experiment.To refire my new wood fire kiln and to, for the first time, work with large shapes.For me my work is always about glaze quality but as you can see here in this collection of pots there is one unglazed pot which has a strength of shape that carries its rawness with dignity.The glazes are from the Chinese and Korean cultures but made from Australian materials in my workshop. I collect the rocks and process them to make the raw materials necessary for the composition of the glazes.

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SIMON REECE

I am primarily a vessel maker of utilitarian ceramics and I am often looking for a way to contextualise a form or texture into a vessel.

More recently I have been making large environmental sculptures. The work has become a dialogue about landscape. Landscape becoming vessels, local landscape, devolving landscape from human influence.

The work I create focuses on landscape, waste, climate and asks for reflection on human action.

Tearing, smashing, gouging, rupturing are not subtle ways to manipulate clay. It is these gesticulations that create the serendipitous and very human characteristics of my work.

Clay defines and directs my work practice. Utilising the particular clay’s characteristics or properties and exploring its’ limitations increasingly defines my work.

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LINDA SEIFFERT

Compelled by the physical and metaphysical (metaphor) language of nature – my practice explores the infinitely evolving visual expressions, of patterns and structures throughout Natures organic processes. The mystery of nature excites me, exploring the realms where physical matter is infused with the unquantifiable substance of spirit, and where spirit can breathe and pulse in the densest most inert form of matter. I aspire to embody in the hand formed, abstract organic, clay sculpture – the sense of mystery, sanctuary, diversity and dynamism that I experience as the spirit of Nature.

As an artist working primarily with clay and the ceramic process, I inherit the legacy of an artform which has held a space, telling stories of earth and culture through millennia. “The vessel”; the archetypal ceramic container, remains as important now as ever, as do the methods of creating with clay. Within and outside of the vessel there is the infinite world of potential expression in clay.

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CAMERON WILLIAMS

Cameron Williams is one of Australia’s best known ceramic artists, designing and. producing large scale ceramics for almost 30 years. Now based with his family at Bodalla. on the far south coast, Cameron spends many of his days elbow-deep in clay at his. wheel or nurturing the massive kiln in his workshop.

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