Unique among NSW regional galleries, Manly Art Gallery & Museum’s collection of ceramics reflects the diversity of contemporary ceramics practice in Australia. The collection now represents the work of some 160 artists, revealing the nuances and shifts in studio ceramics over a 60 year period.
For this iteration of the ceramics gallery display, the focus is on presenting the diverse range of vessels, functional work and sculptural pieces generously donated over the years by MAG&M Society (1986-2020) and works purchased through the Theo Batten Bequest (2004-16), Roger Pietri Bequest (2015) and Northern Beaches Council.
On display, you can see MAG&M’s most recent acquisition which is by Northern Beaches alumni and nationally renowned ceramicist Juz Kitson. The wall-mounted work Temporal Fluidity No 6 was donated in celebration of the gallery’s 90th anniversary in 2020.
Among MAG&M’s growing collection of indigenous ceramics is the painted and lidded vessel by Hermannsburg potter Rahel Ungwanaka, Night Owl. The display also includes the collaborative piece Tilt by ceramicist Neville French and painter Belinda Fox, exemplifying the impulse for artists to experiment across disciplines.
Two key works have been inspired by Manly’s North Head; The Sanctuary by Cathy Franzi which featured in MAG&M’s 2014 exhibition The Course of Objects, presented in partnership with The Australian Ceramics Association, and Weeping Container by Julie Bartholomew which was created as part of MAG&M’s 2015 Out of Quarantine exhibition.
Making collections accessible to the public is one of the persistent challenges faced by galleries and museums which are charged with collecting, conserving, presenting and reflecting upon Australia’s visual and cultural heritage.