You’d be forgiven for thinking ceramicist, community arts worker and educator Gus Clutterbuck is an AFL fanatic. While his recent series of porcelain footballs may reference one of our most beloved past-times, they say more about his tendency for romanticism and interest in exploring Australian themes than his devotion to the game.
The idea of bringing fine ceramics and an Australian icon together was inspired by recent trips to Jingdezhen, the historical centre of Chinese porcelain. Made from Jingdezhen super white porcelain and featuring various decorative patterns, clear and celadon glaze, the footballs combine elements of Chinese ceramic tradition with a distinctly Australian vernacular.
The same could be said of much of Clutterbuck’s recent work. Since first travelling to The Pottery Workshop in Jingdezhen in 2013, Clutterbuck says, “I have aimed to develop my own visual language which combines traditional qinghua (blue and white) painting technique and references to Chinese symbolism, with my own family’s personal experience of life, and the Australian landscape”.
Gus Clutterbuck, Decorated Footballs (2014), Photo: Sam Oster
The resulting series of large blue and white porcelain platters and sculptural objects incorporate ‘shards’ of both cultures. People and places from Clutterbuck’s past, including time spent in outback Australia working with Indigenous communities, are depicted alongside Chinese symbols and motifs in landscapes reflecting the grandeur and sublime of nature.
Clutterbuck’s self-initiated introduction to Jingdezhen, was motivated by a desire to develop new skills and knowledge. He now returns regularly, spending weeks at a time learning the art of qing-hua with mentor Haung Fei and enjoying access to expertise and materials unavailable in Australia. Currently working towards a solo show at MEOU Art in Shanghai, Clutterbuck is also planning an exhibition of work by both Australian and Chinese artists to be presented at the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Centre in 2017.
Gus Clutterbuck, Away in the Land of Wattle and Gum (2014), Photo: Grant Hancock
Further inspired by the American National Football League’s planned expansion into mainland China, Clutterbuck has also produced a ceramic version of the Dallas Cowboy’s football. Perfect for the culturally sophisticated football enthusiast as we head into this year’s gift-giving season, Clutterbuck’s Porcelain footy range is available for purchase at a number of retail outlets, including JamFactory, the Art Gallery of South Australia’s Bookshop, and Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art Store.
Gus Clutterbuck is a part of the Well Made community, an initiative of Guildhouse.
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Header photo: Jonathan van der Knaap