Tag Archives: pottery

Jericho to Jerusalem

There is always an exhibition of classical antiquities on the first floor of the Ian Potter Museum of Art and it forms a significant part of the museum’s character. The current exhibition, “Jericho to Jerusalem” is of Bronze and Iron Age pottery from excavations by Kathleen Kenyon (1906-1978) in Jericho and Jerusalem. The artefacts are all from the Melbourne University’s Classics and Archaeology Department’s collection that is used for hands on teaching and research.

Biblical archaeology has a bad reputation connected with the religious mania of evangelical Christians and political justification of Zionism but the work of Kathleen Kenyon is not of that kind of archaeologist. Kenyon, one of the most influential archaeologists of the 20th Century, is notable for refining archaeological techniques, in particular her stratigraphy of the Middle East. Her stratigraphy has subsequently been largely backed up by radiocarbon dating. You might have heard of Jericho and Jerusalem from the Bible but there are no Biblical references in this exhibition.

This is an exhibition of ordinary domestic pottery from the Bronze and Iron Age. There are no masterpieces, the antiquity of the exhibits are the main attraction. Although this is just plain pottery I was particularly taken by a small gypsum (alabaster) juglet from Bronze Age Jericho 2200-1750 BCE and three jar handles from Iron Age Jerusalem 100-586 BCE stamped with the maker’s flying eagle stamp on them. The maker’s eagle stamp is a trademark that any modern company would be proud to have as their logo.

The didactic panels accompanying the exhibits are clear, informative without being too technical or over burdening the visitor with excessive information. A reproduction of Kathleen Kenyon’s hand drawn stratigraphy from one of her Jericho trenches makes a great backdrop to one of the display cases.

The archaeological interest of the pottery is in shapes, surface treatments, attachments and evidence of use, for example the carbon burn marks on the lamps. The existence of ceramics indicates social aspects: established settlement, specialized skills and trade.

I normally don’t write about ceramics or ancient art so I was pleased that I went to the exhibition opening by my old friend and archaeologist, Geoff Irvin who gave me a great deal of background on Kenyon’s work and the archaeology of the Middle East.

Pan Gallery’s Final Show

There are not many galleries in Melbourne that regularly exhibit ceramic art; Skepsi and Stephen McLaughlan galleries come to mind. Pan Gallery specializes in ceramic art and is located at Northcote Pottery Supplies Pty Ltd (in Brunswick not Northcote).

“Crosshatched”, the final show at Pan Gallery, is a group exhibition featuring the work of both emerging, established and traditional ceramic artists. Two traditional Indian potters, Manohar Lal and Dharmveer made the traditional Indian mudka, water pots. The mudka provide unity to the exhibition, an objective and a base for the artists to decorate using a variety of types of glazes and other techniques. Deborah Halpern, best known in Melbourne for her statue, the “Angel” on the bank of the Yarra River, has decorated two mudkas in the exhibition. Truly Southurst, a graduate of the ceramics program at LaTrobe University’s Bendigo campus, created a whimsical mix of Indian and Western illustration and decoration on her mudka. Jill Anderson painted a political satire of Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard doing back-flips at sea. The pots in the “Crosshatched” exhibition are being sold by silent auction to raise funds to build an energy efficient kiln in Kumhaar Gram, India.

Although Pan Gallery is located in one corner of a pottery supplies shop the quality of the installation is very strong; managing to create well curated gallery display in the space. The pots are displayed on a series of plinths while a slide show of the manufacture of the mudka was projected on one wall and a large pile of undecorated mudka pots are installed in the middle.

I’ve been intending to visit Pan Gallery since it opened 3 years ago and even though it is located close to me in Brunswick I have neglected to visit it. Now it is about to close to make way for more space for workshops and classes. I have slipped up in not writing about Pan Gallery sooner. Madeline Healey in the Moreland Leader (18/4/11) wrote an excellent article about the final show: “Brunswick East Pottery auction to help Indian artists”.  Craft Victoria’s blog also has a post about the final show.

Northcote Pottery Supplies Pty Ltd. has another gallery space at the front of the shop – “Small Pieces” which will remain open. “Small Pieces” stocks small ceramic works from a selection of artists.

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