Craft / “101st Exhibition”, by Greg Daly, at Nancy Sever Gallery, until September 22. Reviewed by CAREN FLORANCE
GREG Daly’s exhibition title leaves no-one in doubt of his vast experience: 101 solo exhibitions over 45 years.
His work has been included in 24 international book publications and is held in more than 85 national and international art gallery and museum collections, including those of the National Gallery of Australia and the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. A former ANU School of Art & Design lecturer, he is internationally renowned for his lustre glazing, something he has perfected since falling in love with the process at the age of 16.
The original working exhibition title was “Line of Sight: Land, Sky, Light”. There is nothing stark or minimal about Daly’s ceramic output, and one could almost be overwhelmed by the collective gleam as they walk into the gallery. His work sings to the eye in richly jewelled and metallic tones.
In his various statements, Daly talks of light and lustre and his inspirations, but also of the chances he takes with his process, backed with knowledge and experience. The process of glazing ceramics is highly scientific; chemistry underpins the artistry, and he experiments constantly with firing variables, which results in serendipitous rather than accidental results.
There is a mix of vases, bowls, plates and only a few of the forms look as if they are made from clay. The rest evoke an “otherness”, a fantasy surfacing that plays with light and dark contrasts and textures, or gives a sense that, if I picked a piece up, it would melt through my fingers. Some pieces look like beaten metal, bronze or gold, provoking a connection to ancient craftsmanship. Daly’s grand colours are hyper-real and emotion-laden, capturing small exquisite moments, like when a sunbeam breaks through grey cloud and hits bright wet grass, or a windy night sky when clouds scud across a full moon. It is high Romance, in the tradition of Casper David Friedrich, or Turner, but without the grand narratives.
Instead, everything is inspired by a very specific and personal place: the views from and walks between Daly’s studio and house at his rural property near Cowra. The titles are simple but evocative: “Grasses at Sunset”, “Changing Sky”, “Mist Lifting”, “Morning Glow”. They evoke but do not burden, allowing the audience to project their own emotions and experience of place upon each piece.
The proliferation of red dots around the gallery attest to the effect of these pieces. It is well worth visiting the exhibition to experience the work en masse, before it is broken up and dispersed back into small but glorious moments.