craft / “The Chef and the Potter”, until March 29. Reviewed by MEREDITH HINCHLIFFE.
FOOD, and what people eat it from, is integral to humans, and this is seen in the exhibition “The Chef and the Potter” at the Canberra Potters Gallery.
Not only does food sustain people, but its role extends far beyond that. People prepare and serve food with love and care, they celebrate milestones with food, and it serves an important role in social activities.
How food is served is just as important and the plates, bowls and dishes used in the serving rituals should enhance and compliment the ingredients on the plate. The Japanese believe that food gives life to a piece of ceramic tableware. At the same time, the ceramics should not compete with the food, which is paramount.
In this exhibition, six potters worked to a design brief from various restaurants around Canberra. There is a similarity in form and surface decoration, and colour, amongst five potters and one whose work stands out as being different. Andres Caycedo is showing a limited range – small milk pourers, or jugs and plates. The jugs are decorated with different patterns in cobalt on a white surface. These are simple and practical. The matt, dry exterior surfaces prevent slipping while the interiors have a glossy surface.
Tableware used in restaurants must be robust and stack well, but I found it rather surprising that most of the pieces are quite heavy.
Chris Harford has been a professional potter making functional tableware for more than 30 years. He is exhibiting a wide range of pieces, with a strong Japanese influence. His tiny Bamboo Sake Cup is perfect for the small quantity of liquid that it holds while having textural and visual interest.
Joey Burns first trained in a production factory making tableware before deciding to study ceramics, and he is showing a small range of vessels, particularly to drink from. He uses porcelain decorated with blue or green celadon on the interior surfaces, with tenmoku glaze on the exterior. They are delicate and comfortable to hold.
The remaining potters – Annie Parnell, Georgina Bryant and Richilde Flavell – are exhibiting plates and bowls and other small vessels.
As Flavell says: “To enjoy coffee from a unique cup, lovingly crafted by hand is a rich experience… something about handcrafted pottery speaks to people’s souls”.
Each hand made object is unique – made with the hand, the head and the heart. Food is made with equally important care.
This exhibition is important in demonstrating how artists who use different media can come together and give people pleasure whenever they eat. Next time Canberrans go to a participating restaurant or café, remember the potter who made the mug or plate.