ADC's Laura Wesolowski recently asked Lead Installer for SIXTY at Design Tasmania, Sharon O'Donnell a few questions about the installation process.

SIXTY: The Journal of Australian Ceramics 60th Anniversary 1962–2022 is a special ADC On Tour exhibition project presented in partnership with The Australian Ceramics Association to acknowledge this significant anniversary. SIXTY: The Journal of Australian Ceramics 60th Anniversary is now exhibiting at Design Tasmania between 1 June – 21 July 2024.

Tell us how you went about installing SIXTY. What were the challenges?

Once tasked with the planning and installation of SIXTY I familiarised myself with the comprehensive documents that accompany this touring exhibition. Our main gallery space is comprised of sandstone floors and walls, so thinking outside the box was going to be necessary to ensure that the artists who had wall pieces were showcased as effectively as the table works. There were a few different ideas floated around as potential solutions until a compromise was made to utilise partial space within the Price Hall which houses our permanent wood collection. From there it was just a matter of balancing the pieces to allow each piece to speak on its own as well as within its community of other pieces. I wanted to encourage the engagement of singular pieces as well as acknowledge the importance of how each of these artists supports each other in the ceramic community. 

As far as challenges go, the wall situation for us was the first challenge. The next challenge was how to be the most effective and safest in ensuring the pieces were condition-reported and installed with the least amount of handling. After that, the large perspex lids can be quite difficult to fit, and some of the seams are splitting due to twisting and time spent in transportation. And lastly, installing the blue triangle perspex pieces on the table bases proved to be very difficult. The table bases over the two-year touring period have understandably shifted creating a difficult and slow process of finding pieces that fit to the bases. 

SIXTY, Exhibition View, Design Tasmania, 2024. Photo: Melanie Kate Creative.

You involved some students in the install. How was the experience for them?

For this installation, I was tasked with finding a team of installers to assist me. As a current Honours student at UTAS, I reached out to three of the 3rd year students who had completed the 'Exhibitions' unit. This unit currently requires the student to imagine an exhibition and work through all the components of such in a theoretical way. The downfall of this unit is that imagined problems have solutions that are imagined, and these do not always translate to real spaces. The students selected were very appreciative of the opportunity and gained valuable hands-on experience and knowledge. The supporting documents for this touring exhibition helped with their underpinning knowledge of learned theory and to be able to use and reference ADC's exhibition tools and manuals was exceptionally beneficial. 

SIXTY, Exhibition View, Design Tasmania, 2024. Photo: Melanie Kate Creative.

What did you like best about this install experience?

The planning and installation of this exhibition was my first lead role in this field. I give my gratitude to Design Tasmania's Artistic Designer Michelle Boyde, for believing and trusting in me to take on this role. As a ceramic artist myself, having the works of my idols so close and personal is something I will treasure. Overall though, my highlight of this installation was the joy of leading my team of budding artists, to have pride and confidence in putting their university careers to use in creating a fantastically received exhibition. I could not have done it without their care, passion and enthusiasm. 

SIXTY, Exhibition View, Design Tasmania, 2024. Photo: Melanie Kate Creative.