The Powerhouse Museum, along with many others in the fields of visual arts and crafts, was sad to hear of the death of Marea Gazzard, on 28th October, 2013. Marea Gazzard was an important figure in the chronology of Australian postwar ceramics, both as a significant and influential innovator in her own work and also in her support of the Australian crafts movement.
Marea Gazzard was an influential ceramic artist in Australia from the late 1950s. She was active in setting up the Crafts Council of Australia in 1971, was the first chair of the Crafts Board of the Australia Council in 1973, and president of The World Crafts Council from 1980-1983. She was also a Trustee of The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (1982-1986), and the first recipient of the Australia Council’s Creative Arts Fellowship, 1989-1992.
Gazzard trained in ceramics in 1953-54 at East Sydney Technical College, and at London Central School for Arts and Crafts in 1956-57. Unlike most potters of the time, she was less interested in Oriental-inspired wheel thrown forms, and more interested in hand built vessel forms, influenced by modernist design, Cycladic sculpture (from her own Greek background), and other archaeological forms such as pre-Colombian pottery and sculpture.
‘Dial 1’, pictured above, was made in Australia after Gazzard returned to Australia, and is one of a series where she ‘abandoned all suggestion of a container and presented forms which are completely contained apart from a slash or narrow opening’ (Christine France 1994, p50). This was a precursor for later works which culminated in controversial ‘milestone’ exhibitions like ‘Clay and Fibre’ in 1973 with Mona Hessing, and in commissions like ‘Mingarri- the Little Olgas’ 1984-88, for the new Parliament House in Canberra. Her work contains references to landscape forms and more particularly, as with ‘Dial 1’, to human torsos and heads.
Gazzard’s work has been displayed in a mutltitide of solo and group shows and her ceramics have been acquired by many cultural institutions, such as the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Powerhouse Museum.
Collated by Anni Turnbull from material written and provided by Dr Grace Cochrane, former Powerhouse Museum senior curator.