Ray, David
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earthenware, decals, enamel, and gold
27 x 19 cm (2 vases); 38 x 34 12 cm (tureen)
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Interpretive text
David Ray is known for his flamboyant Baroque creations that tread “an informed path between parody of, and homage to, the history of ceramics,” quoting Janet DeBoos, the 2017 judge of the Manningham Victorian Ceramic Art Awards. Despite the highly expressive and what might be called ‘imperfect’ aesthetic of Ray’s vessels, in high contrast to the Baroque’s perfectionism, the works are masterfully executed. The work went through seven firings, a bisque, and a glaze firing at 1120 degrees Celsius. They then went through five on glaze enamel and decal firings at from 800 degrees and down to 650 degrees for the gold. The surface decoration was built up over a month.

The set of three are described by Ray as a ‘triptych’ that holds a narrative about our manufactured worlds versus the natural environment. Produced after his proximity to the 2009 Black Saturday fires and the 2018 Eungella fires, the set includes two vases (subtitled Evaseif) feature images of a koala wearing face mask surrounded by black smoke, and a motorbike rider in flames. According to the artist, the subtitle is a mix of the word ‘vase’ and ‘evasive,’ connected to the act of escape via motorcycle. They will make it, “only IF they could move quicker,” to quote the artist’s statement. The third piece in the centre, subtitled Captured, is a double-based tureen vessel, with each end speaking to its relative neighbouring vase and depicting animals in captivity. The mix of low quality overglaze transfers (or decals), asymmetricity and expressive mark-making alongside an opulent gilded surface and its masterful process is a message about the modern world’s relative values when it comes to protecting nature.

David Ray is a leading Australian potter. He was born in Ararat, Victoria in 1972 and graduated from RMIT University’s Bachelor of Fine Arts (Ceramics) in 1995. His works have been exhibited across Australia in group exhibitions since 1994 and has been producing nation-wide solo exhibitions since 1998. He was winner of the 2019 Victorian Craft Awards, the 2017 Manningham Victoria Ceramic Art Award, and has been shortlisted in over a dozen national art prizes including UQ Art Museum’s National Artists’ Self-Portrait Prize and the Basil Sellers Art Prize. Residencies have included placements in Liverpool, UK, Philadelphia, USA, as well as three Australian states. Ray was a 2018 artist-in-residence for Artspace Mackay’s ‘The Wall,’ creating a mural with ceramic details with an anti-violence message. His works are held in the Minneapolis Institute of Art, USA, National Gallery of Victoria, The Clay Studio Philadelphia, QUT, Deakin University and RMIT collections, and several regional Victoria galleries.
Artspace Macaky, 2020
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Mackay Regional Council Art Collection, purchased 2020.
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