Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Good art

I'm determined to post at least two positive pieces for each negative one. So here's something positive. I recently saw some ceramic art by Stephen Bowers and was impressed by how beautiful it was - so unusual for modern artwork. The pictures below don't really do justice to seeing the ceramics in real life. The vases are large - roughly hip height (you can click on them for a better view):

So the question is why Stephen Bowers should be producing such fine art, going against modern trends. Well, the short answer is that he doesn't think the role of the artist is to shock the public, nor is it to break down artistic forms and traditions. He doesn't see artistic traditions as static, but he does draw inspiration from them:
The artist states that a central part of his practice consists of “reaffirming the position, role and presence of painting within the ceramic tradition.” A parallel interest in period illustration, particularly 18th and 19th century copper plate book illustration, continues to provide inspiration.
There is also a local identity at work in his ceramics:
...the regular appearance of motifs (such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge) that are not only unmistakably Australian but also reference a sense of independent cultural identity in a globalised world. As one writer has suggested, “Bowers is an instigator of a new consciousness in Australian pottery, thrusting our native flora and fauna into the limelight as a legitimate form of decoration. He skirts the edge of kitschness while investing authenticity into the use of Australian symbols in the hope of developing our native visual language.”
I think he succeeds in doing this. It's unusual as an Australian to see fine ceramic art decorated with Australian motifs. He has contributed in an original way to an existing tradition - built on it or added to it rather than seeking to entirely deconstruct its forms. The result is something that strikes you as being of enduring worth.


  1. One of the saddest things about the decline of our civilisation is the way art has turned against beauty.

  2. Good art tends to uplift the spirits, and usher in a transcendent emotion.