Wednesday, March 28, 2012



I wish beautiful was a word used less frequently. My dictionary defines it as "delighting the aesthetic senses". I like to use it only when I wish to bestow high praise.

Kirsten Coelho's current exhibition at the Helen Gory Galerie, Prospect, is beautiful - aesthetically, conceptually and in execution.

Photo by Jeremy Dillon

When you enter the exhibiting space it feels as though you are stepping into a colonial setting only recently vacated by it's inhabitants. While there is the right amount of work to draw you in, there is a sense of Amish-like sparseness and an unashamed romanticism.

Tin Can and Bowl with Flange

Kirsten's porcelain vessels, predominantly glazed satin white with iron oxide markings, draw on colonial era enamel ware. She currently lives in Adelaide but has also lived and worked in the UK. The combined influences of her interest in colonial Australia and British studio pottery blend seamlessly in her work, successfully embodying "points of historical and contemporary cultural intersection". There is a strong sense of Kirsten's respect for classical Chinese/Japanese and Korean ceramic traditions, with her uses of iron oxide and subtle suggestions in shape. 

Saturated Iron Bowl


Ceramic objects that appear simple yet contain layered meanings captivate me. The catalogue essay by Wendy Walker accessibly expands on the themes in the exhibition. I enjoyed the point made regarding the circular motion of influence, Kirsten's porcelain works interpreting historical enamel wares which were in turn "simulations of their more costly ceramics incarnations." And the notion of the influence of North Asian ceramic traditions representing the cultural impact of the immigrant experience in colonial Australia.

But beyond the narrative, the installation and the context, lies the inescapable fact that each individual object, in it's own right, is simply beautiful.


The above photos were supplied by Helen Gory Galerie. I must say how lovely it was to go to a gallery where the staff are welcoming and helpful and, more importantly, informed and interested in conversing about the artists and her work. Thanks Jemma.

Kirsten Coelho
14 March - 07 April
Helen Gory Galerie
25 St Edmonds Rd
Prahran, VIC

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