Colourful Humour on a Plate

One of the most enjoyable things about collecting craft is going to exhibitions to see what imaginative new work is being created by artists working in craft.

A highlight during the Edinburgh Festival this year is My Dad Was Born On The Moon, an exhibition of ceramics by Stephen Bird at The Scottish Gallery.  This is a rare opportunity to see work by this Scottish ceramicist, who is now living and working in Australia.

He was born in Stoke-on-Trent, the birthplace of British manufactured pottery, and in many ways his work reflects Staffordshire pottery.  However, his pottery is a colourful array of expressive, humorous and sometimes profane pottery figures, Toby Jugs and decorative ceramics.

Wall of plates by Stephen Bird
Wall of plates by Stephen Bird

Although he initially trained as a painter at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee he has worked in ceramics since the 1990’s and has exhibited across the UK, USA and Australia with work in the collection of the National Museum of Scotland and Art Gallery of South Australia.

He migrated to Sydney in 2007 and his new home has gradually become part of his work, telling stories of murder and mayhem in the Outback, shoot-outs under eucalyptus trees and sex amongst the pandanas.  He claims he never intentionally turned to the landscape for inspiration but that it was so vast and so invasive it hijacked any venture.

His work is filled with visual jokes and he also toys with words to create his own quotes, making connections between images, words and the unconscious.

Remorse by Stephen BirdAlong with the humour, violence and sex often feature in his work, and when asked about this he said “I used to blame the shootings and murder in some of my works on some 3rd party. I used to say “my works are just reflecting the violence in the press or committed by armies and militia”. Now I am beginning to realize that this is just a real cop out. Maybe those images are welling up from my own unconscious violent, pack hunting, monkey brain. Now I have accepted this responsibility I am a lot more careful about what images I put out there. I think violence is best served up on a plate.”

See: Stephen Bird: My Dad Was Born On The Moon
Until 4 September 2013
The Scottish Gallery, 16 Dundas Street, EH3 6HZ
Open Mon-Fri 10am-6pm, Sat 10am-4pm

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