Ceramist Prue Venables is based in Regional Victoria. The journal shows Prue’s thought process when making her projects. Sketching while quoting a few favourite poems, Prue documented her key ideas of learning and research for new metal elements in her work.
We asked Prue three questions about her experience of isolation, completing this journal and her hope for the future. These are her responses:
Describe the experience of the period of isolation for you.
To begin with, the isolation felt almost like normal life for me…. Working in the garden, developing new objects in the studio, communicating with friends and family by internet and phone, working on my writing jobs. The face to face meeting with friends and travelling to Melbourne were the major missing parts. As the weeks passed, time became more slippery…What day is it now?...Yearning to see people!...A feeling of introspection descended. I began to read more poetry, some remembered from childhood, some from later. Re-reading of novels that I love suddenly felt important as was contacting friends from all parts of my life. The period of isolation made me think about how fortunate we are to be here at this time, to really appreciate what we have but to think also about the state of the world. We as a world were given the fires to bring to our attention the damage that we cause through expectations and greed. What notice did we take!? It feels like the virus is here to really make us take note!? The structure of economics worldwide is about growth at all cost. It causes so much damage to the earth and its inhabitants both human and other. This has to stop!
What does your book represent and how did you approach the challenge?
The book shows drawings of my thoughts about making and included a few key poems that I love. My attention has been drawn to learning more about metal work and so many of the drawings are about the possibilities that lie ahead for me in this area.
What do you hope will change in Australia as a result of the pandemic?
Let’s hope that the surging economic quest for growth at all cost is dealt a killer blow and that this is replaced by something more humane and caring of all creatures and peoples. It is a big hope and maybe we are not up to it!? Time will tell. For example, look at the way that health and aged care are set up as profit making businesses. I hope that society takes a long and hard look at this behaviour and turns this around. Aged care should be about the care of frail and elderly people and not at all about profit. The environment is faced with a wrecking ball and we are on the cusp of anything that we do being too late. Let’s hope that this changes in quick time. The virus is not selective in who it attacks. Some people are protected a bit by their wealth but not entirely. Let’s hope that we move towards a more equitable and supportive society. This is what I hope for! Let’s hope that this is realistic.
Australian-born artist Prue Venables was studying the flute in London in 1977 when she first touched clay and was profoundly stopped in her tracks. Since then, she has devoted her time and energy to the mastery of porcelain, becoming one of Australia’s most skilled and lauded potters.
Numerous national and international exhibitions, awards and publications celebrate the fine porcelain work of Prue Venables. Included in many public and private collections worldwide, these pots explore complex and unusual approaches to working with porcelain, challenge the significance of daily objects and highlight the richness that they bring to our lives. Forms are deceptively simple, stand quietly, with light dancing on the sprung tension of their rims, their softly melting forms inviting touch.
Prue Venables is a multi-award winning, major Australian ceramicist. Educated at the Harrow College of Art in London with a Masters of Fine Art – Ceramics from RMIT, Prue has been practising her craft since 1977. With a distinguished exhibition history, Prue has also mentored and taught generations of ceramicists. Prue’s work is collected by major institutions and public galleries and private institutions in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, UK, USA, Canada, Japan.
She is a former President of Craft Victoria, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in London.
View Prue Venables' journal here:
Image: Prue Venables, Design/Isolate Journal (detail), 2020.