Stewart Scambler is one of WA’s most prolific and respected ceramic artists. The works in this show reflects his response to the land. Not just the visual as experienced from a bus, car or aircraft but the actual experience of being in the land and open to its presence.
The work is made from clay and minerals sourced from Western Australia and is prepared for use by hand. Majority of the pieces are woodfired over 51 hours to 1320C using wood from Stewart’s property in York. Some pieces are also hand built and fired in an electric kiln.
The surfaces of the pieces are a combination of the clays and minerals from the wood ash, some smooth and some challengingly sharp and rugged. The process works by throwing fire and ash at the pieces so there is an element of uncertainty reflected in the final result.
Stewart arrived in Australia as a 7 year old and grew up in Kwinana surrounded by bush and swamps. A boy’s perfect environment as he describes it. His early education was in science, but he abandoned that for ceramics and established a pottery in Serpentine where he built a woodfired kiln. Ceramics enable him to use all the science that he learnt and address the creative part of his being.
He relocated his kiln to York in 1993 where his wife Trish and he have a property that is large enough to grow enough wood for the firings.
Environmental concerns are paramount for Stewart. Initially sourcing scrap wood for the firings and then transitioning to wood that he grew himself as it was environmentally better and reinforced the local nature of the work. The wood used in the kiln is replaced by planting in excess of 100 trees each year.
Stewarts Palmyra studio, Bohemian Ceramics produces both fine art sculptures and useable domestic wares. Although all the work is produced in the Palmyra studio, the woodfired portion is transported to their York property for firing.
His works are held in major Australian public collections. Stewart has travelled all over the world learning international ceramics techniques and is a master of Japanese Raku.
Naked in the Land will be on at BRAG from 30 September to 28 January 2024.
The Gallery is open Wednesday to Sunday, 10am to 4pm. Entry is always.
Side Image: Stewart Scambler, Aftermath, woodfired stoneware. 2023