Is there anything, I ask you, as categorically FUN as Bonnie Hislop’s ceramics? The Brisbane-based artist has spent this very weird year experimenting with the more conceptual side of her practice – life-affirming pottery.
Better Luck Next Year is a series of handbuilt ceramic trophies emblazoned with of-the-moment slang like ‘Um okay wow’ and ‘This is fine’. These catchphrases to modern life have gained traction over the Internet in the last decade, and hold particular pertinence in 2020. You’re doing great, hun! is what everyone needs to hear right now.
‘This collection is a response to the collective experience of COVID-19 and isolation, and the feelings of frustration during this time,’ Bonnie says. The colourful, wobbly creations are a deferent, exhausted nod to a year we’re all probably glad to see the back of. But as timely as this collection feels, Bonnie’s pieces have always been about having as much fun as possible (what’s more joyous than a Super Duper Sized Dreamland Fantasy Leopard Planter?) and doing things her way.
‘The satisfaction is in the process of discovery, uncovering the concept and personality of a piece by keeping open to play,’ she explains of her process, which is based on intuition. ‘I find if I pre-plan too much, I’ve already moved on from the piece in my mind before it’s even made.’
Despite this spontaneity, a lot of time goes into constructing each of Bonnie’s vessels. Every vase and trophy in the collection took roughly 20-30 hours to build, paint, dry and fire. As they are made from stoneware clay, all her pieces are fired multiple times and undergo layers of glaze and ceramic lustres after each session in the kiln. You can see the detail in an online exhibition of the collection at Third Quarter Gallery, from October 9th – 23rd.
Though this collection of slogan-embossed vessels symbolises a funny, sarcastic reaction to 2020, they are also the result of a lifetime spent creating. Bonnie inherited her love of ceramics from her mother, an illustrator and ceramicist. Bonnie built her practice through years of amateur classes – starting at age 8 – and in her mid-twenties, taught herself to handbuild (freeform clay sculpting without moulds or a wheel). She now teaches the process to other budding ceramicists from her warehouse studio in Brisbane.
With 2021 looming, THIS is the energy we need right now.
Click here to shop Bonnie’s playful designs or enrol in her ceramic workshops.
An online exhibition of ‘Better Luck Next Year’ will be held at Third Quarter Gallery from 8pm on 9th – 23rd October.