Ceramics and Society: 50 Years of Evolution

Written by Jeffery Mincham AM
Friday, 30 November 2018
Jeff Mincham For Robert, 78H x 36D x 52W cms large coil-built vessel, multi-glazed, multi-fired, mid-fire, 2018. “I dedicated the piece to the memory of Dr Robert Bell AM, formerly Senior Curator of Australian Decorative Arts at the NGA who passed away in July 2018.”
Jeff Mincham For Robert, 78H x 36D x 52W cms large coil-built vessel, multi-glazed, multi-fired, mid-fire, 2018. “I dedicated the piece to the memory of Dr Robert Bell AM, formerly Senior Curator of Australian Decorative Arts at the NGA who passed away in July 2018.”

To gain any insight in contemporary Ceramic practice in our society as it stands at present, it is first necessary to look back at how it has evolved over the past fifty or so years.

I regard myself as a Ceramic Artist and I claim this position on the grounds that I produce works of Art in the Ceramic medium, these being strongly informed by the nature and unique characteristics of clay that have been explored by other peoples in many cultures over the millennia.

Having had the benefit of an excellent education in both art and ceramics from exceptional teachers, I have been able to survive (just, at times!) for over 40 years in my chosen profession.

Naturally my approach has been shaped by my initial ceramics training which was principally, although not entirely, centred around functional ceramics.

By this means I developed a fluency with the medium that has benefitted me immensely over the years.

This is not of course the only path to gaining a working knowledge of ceramics, but it happens to be the best, in my view.

Reflecting on how my work has evolved over four decades, I have to recognise a complex range of influences that have shaped my progress.

Jeffery Mincham's Studio
Jeffery Mincham at his studio

However my core interests have always been bedded in the material. The expressive power of clay lies in its vast range of possibilities.

This has fascinated us forever and is just as powerful today in our contemporary culture as it has ever been.

Certainly fashions, styles and perceived importance come and go, but the Ceramics Arts seem to have a core set of unshakable realisations that sustain them across time and cultures.

A Japanese Edo Period Tea Bowl is just as artistically convincing today as it was at the time of its creation.

Perhaps then it is best to see our personal involvement with the ceramic medium as part of something much bigger and it just might take a lifetime to figure this out!

Jeffery Mincham AM
November 2018