We’re delighted to introduce the winning recipient of the Shelley Simpson Ceramics Prize for 2022, Phaedra Davy. Phaedra will receive $10,000 to support her final year of study, along with a mentorship with our founder and creative director, Shelley Simpson. Phaedra’s winning piece is entitled ‘Erosion’ – her pieces work solely with different clay bodies, incorporating recycled clays, to form ceramic vessels that echo vase forms, contemporary and ancient. Phaedra explains “Each individual vase speaks of erosion in some area of human existence. We are living through an extraordinary time. Witnessing the erosion of the fabric of life, the weave that has allowed us to feel safe, connected and in control… it’s not a doomsday project, it’s a snapshot of the time we are living in, gently offered in forms that are soft to the eye and gentle with the heart. I hope it speaks of awareness, regeneration and faith in humanity.”
Photography by Leif Prenzlau.
Burnt Botanicals I, is inspired by native seedpods and adorned using sprig molds of fallen banksia and waratah pods found on my grandparent’s wildflower farm in Somersby. The piece holds significance to me as it embodies a place of fond memories.
With no access to a kiln due to the recent lockdown, and with growing personal concerns of climate change, I have turned to ancient firing techniques to vitrify my pieces. For this work an old washing machine tub sitting atop a wheel hub with a kettle barbecue lid was utilised to do a hardwood sawdust firing. The sawdust was recycled from my Uncle’s woodwork business. Similarly to a bushfire, the firing process is unpredictable and uncontrolled and has allowed the firing to determine an organic aesthetic visible in the pieces, leaving some sections black, brown and white. After fire, bushland is rejuvenated and new life is born.
“Femeninas” convey the idea of a woman as both artist and muse. It is a celebration of the female body as a vessel for talent and inspiration. Using highly grogged clay, these forms emerged through my exploration of the intersection between refinement and natural irregularities inherent in the process of making. Using hand building techniques, I constructed these vessels by carefully and evenly rolling clay coils to compress the clay in order to give the pieces additional strength and even walls.
To reduce my carbon footprint I used a single firing technique – which reduces heat, fumes and the gases released into the atmosphere. As the work is not glazed, it will not take as long to biodegrade.