Friday, October 28, 2011

Yes sir, I like it

Last weekend I journeyed all the way to Brighton. That's the other side of the river you know. Hmmm, not my favourite neck of the woods but I will try not to cast aspersions on an  unfamiliar burb. I'm sure it has its moments.

In fact, one such moment was a small exhibition of ceramics by David Ray at the Bayside Arts and Cultural Centre - the purpose of my visit.

David Ray Power 2008

Simply titled Contemporary Ceramics, the exhibition showcases a selection of David's work from the last few years, courtesy of the artist and Nellie Castan Gallery. I found the selection a little disparate and it took me a  while to engage with the works but once I reconnected with Ray's ceramic vocabulary I found much to enjoy. 

David Ray Cruiser 2010

The exhibition text states that David Ray applies "critical comment to contemporary consumerism and our national identity through his flamboyant baroque creations." Ray's contemporary observations of political and social life in Australia, excessive ornamentation and historical references combined with his rugged construction is very appealing. You need to spend quite some time with each piece to get the full impact of the work, to make sense (or not) of the overlapping of colours, lustres and images. I like that the content of the work is not always immediately evident. Some things are blatant thanks to their titles...

David Ray Trophy Wife 2010

David Ray What's Up Skip? 2010

but often there are only hints and suggestions that give you the sense of what the work is exploring.

David Ray Trit trot tramp, trip, trot, tramp... 
who's that tramping over my bridge 2010

The work is best described  in the artist's own words, of course, which I have lifted from his website...

"The work becomes human in its imperfections - lumps and bumps, the fingermarks of human touch - a tactile memory. My personal response to the repetitiveness of the industrial is to make objects that are organic and unique, each piece with it's own personality for the observer to engage with. Images colour and texture are layered upon layer to create a kaleidoscope of possibilities toward the idea of a narrative. The interpretation of this narrative is left to the perception of the viewer. Sometimes my work knows more about itself then I do."

His website also explains that David's influences began with early 18th century European factory ceramics and the social milieu around the industrial revolution. "Utilitarian objects that have been shaped since the beginning of mankind can transcend their original function and become a purely decorative status symbol. Objects therefore can be interpreted as social barometer of their times which gives insight into the human condition."

My favourite piece from the exhibition was Champion

David Ray Champion 2010

Enclosed in a glass cabinet, individual porcelain trophy-like objects combined to form one oversized trophy in a humorous dig at our nations glorification of sporting prowess. Each piece had its own cartoon like personality with expressive arms and suggested sporty type actions culminating in a worship/victory moment on the top shelf directed at an image of Jesus.

David Ray Champion (detail) 2010

David Ray Champion (detail) 2010

It also included a not so subtle reference to "assisted" sporting prowess..

David Ray Champion (detail) 2010

There is certainly a lot going on in David Ray's sculptures and I think the majority of it really hits the intended mark.

David Ray
Contemporary Ceramics
22 Oct - 13 Nov 2011
Bayside Arts and Cultural Centre

1 comment:

gerry said...

Dave is the real deal and a much needed iconoclastic presence in Australian ceramics.Wish I could see it!