Pippin Drysdale has been a remarkable figure in Australian ceramic art for over four decades, working from her Fremantle studio with a collaborative team, especially Warrick Palmateer. Few Australians have seen their work so extensively exhibited, collected nationally and internationally and held in important public collections and museums around the world.
Now, at 80 years of age, Drysdale continues to climb to new heights, being selected as a Finalist in the 2023 Wynne Prize, presented alongside the Archibald and Sulman Prizes, by the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
‘Pippin Drysdale’s ensembles are quite literally a landscape in their aesthetic manifestation. Each of her forms lightly touches the ground and the whole array of objects undulates into peaks and valleys over which the eyes can clamber. The richly coloured surfaces are first inscribed with fine lines, the artist’s own form of topographical mapping recalling the spidery tracings of grass and wind as they sing and sweep across the sand.’ Glenn Barkley and Lesley Harding in Heide Museum catalogue An Idea Needing to be Made: Contemporary Ceramics 2019.
Drysdale works intuitively, driven by her passion to create. She draws on assimilated experiences of place, topography, remote communities, changing light, flora or fauna, that give rise to her abstract interpretations. Her ceramics are frequently reflections of the famous Kimberley and Pilbara regions, many echoing the ‘vastness’ of place while others explore the ‘smallness’ of things. Memories are key and they run deep. She neither sketches nor photographs her travels, relying rather on emotions, on almost sub-conscious recollections that surface spontaneously to channel her vision.
“Much of my work is about creating dialogues between the land that inspires me, the people who have and will continue to care for it and those who seek to exploit it. Coloured glazes, incised lines, applied to my porcelain (Devils) marbles and vessels, are my tools to capture the magnificent beauty of remote Australia’s unique environment, the changing hues of the six seasons and to highlight the threats they face.”
Drysdale is a WA State Living Treasure, a Master of Australian Craft and was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of the Arts by Curtin University in 2020.