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Living Treasures: Masters of Australian Craft \ Prue Venables

26 February - 26 April 2021

Living Treasures: Masters of Australian Craft \ Prue Venables presents an outstanding body of work by one of Australia’s greatest artists working in clay.

Information about the works on display is available in the Exhibition Guide.

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Press Release

Prue Venables, Black Tea Caddy and White Bowl, 2018. Photographer: Terence Bogue.

Tour Partner: Australian Design Centre.

Acclaimed ceramicist Prue Venables is the ninth artist in the Australian Design Centre series Living Treasures: Masters of Australian Craft, which celebrates the achievements of Australia’s most iconic crafts practitioners.

A series of solo exhibitions, Living Treasures: Masters of Australian Craft honours eminent and highly respected craftspeople, celebrating their mastery of skill, their achievements, their contribution to Australian craft, and the unique place they occupy in the national design culture.

The works of Prue Venables show a true mastery of materials. They demonstrate a profound understanding of porcelain, that most precious and temperamental of clays, whose fine-grain and opaque qualities are expressed in rigorous works of refined detail. These are handmade functional artworks that possess clarity, luminosity and a quiet beauty.

Many of the works also feature wood and metal elements formed as handles, joints and other connecting pieces. Prue Venables’s forms are simple and elegant, with a minimal colour palette and subtle exaggerations – an oval lip or an elongated handle – that create a distinctive visual language.

“Prue Venables’ ceramic works are at once familiar, echoing domestic forms, exquisitely beautiful in their etched shapes, delicate textures and luminosity, and supremely graceful,” said Lisa Cahill, CEO and Artistic Director of Australian Design Centre.

“It is a pleasure and a privilege to honour Prue Venables as the ninth artist to be recognised in the series,” said Cahill.

Prue Venables’ major body of work for this exhibition explores the significance of everyday objects through multiple sequences of forms in porcelain, with additional elements in metal and wood.

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Prue Venables, Black triangulated form and Black pedestal bowl, 2018. Photographer: Terence Bogue.

Prue Venables, Betty's Kitchen, 2017. Photographer: Terence Bogue.

Australian Design Centre

Australian Design Centre (ADC) is an independent contemporary craft and design organisation igniting creative ideas and building cultural vibrancy. Through our exhibition, festival, touring, retail, publishing and learning platforms, we take a lead role developing and supporting Australia’s makers and designers and building audiences for their work across Australia and internationally.

Living Treasures: Masters of Australian Craft is an initiative of the Australian Design Centre. The series aims to celebrate the achievements of Australia’s most iconic crafts practitioners, through a touring exhibition and a major monograph publication.

Living Treasures celebrates the work and practice of exceptional individuals who have demonstrated more than three decades of excellence in their chosen discipline. The series was conceived in 2004 when ADC reached out to the sector nationally to put together three authoritative panels that would come together to review nominations and select the next Living Treasure.

The Living Treasures exhibitions focuses on current work – they are not historic surveys. This concept aims to ensure that the work and ideas presented are current reflections of the practitioner’s process and output. Each exhibition is accompanied by a beautiful monograph, which not only celebrates the work but also delves into each artist’s background in more detail, contextualising their status as a leading practitioner of their craft.

Prue Venables, Tray and Necklace . ADC Installation detail, 2019. Photographer: Rhiannon Hopley

Prue Venables

Prue Venables was studying the flute in London in 1977 when she first touched clay and was profoundly stopped in her tracks. Since then, she has devoted her time and energy to the mastery of porcelain, becoming one of Australia’s most skilled and lauded potters. Numerous national and international exhibitions, awards and publications celebrate the fine porcelain work of Prue Venables.

Included in many public and private collections worldwide, these pots explore complex and unusual approaches to working with porcelain, challenge the significance of daily objects and highlight the richness that they bring to our lives. Forms are deceptively simple, stand quietly, with light dancing on the sprung tension of their rims, their softly melting forms inviting touch.

Prue Venables is a multi-award winning, major Australian ceramicist. Educated at the Harrow College of Art in London with a Masters of Fine Art – Ceramics from RMIT, Prue has been practising her craft since 1977.

With a distinguished exhibition history, Prue has also mentored and taught generations of ceramicists. Prue’s work is collected by major institutions and public galleries and private institutions in Australia, New Zealand, Europe, UK, USA, Canada, Japan.

She is a former President of Craft Victoria, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in London.

Prue Venables, In her studio, 2018. Photographer: Angus Lee Forbes.

Just make...

"I think making things is a life imperative. It is a very grounding experience. If it’s just flowing, it’s just the most wonderful feeling. But it doesn’t always do that. So sometimes it’s really tricky, and you think, oh, the clay’s not right, it’s too soft, it’s not going to work. Things start flopping, it doesn’t work. It’s difficult.
And other times, it’s just like, ah. You know?"

Prue Venables

Film Credit: Angus Lee Forbes 2019, courtesy of Australian Design Centre.

Installation image credit: Emily Dimozantos, 2021.

Supported by

Living Treasures: Masters of Australian Craft \ Prue Venables is an Australian Design Centre (ADC On Tour) national touring exhibition, presented with assistance from the Australian Government Visions of Australia program.