David Ray's ceramic piece "Wild"
David Ray's ceramic piece "Wild"

Artwork: WILD
Award: Winner of the 2017 Manningham Victorian Ceramic Art Award
Medium: earthenware, decal enamel gold, handbuilt, 48 x 40 x 36 cm

Manningham Art Collection. Image courtesy the artist.

"Within my work I apply critical comment to contemporary consumerism and the less reputable aspects of our national identity through often flamboyant baroque creations. WILD explores the juxtaposition between the perception of the beautiful and the ugly. Decoration is incorporated within the body of the work, weaving, twisting and turning, with a confounding plethora of images, motifs and decals – the ‘glamour of the artificial’ colliding, almost in total meltdown. The hand of the artist is never far from one’s consciousness when viewing my work, which is intentionally imperfect, asymmetrical and sometimes seemingly top heavy. Also lingering in one’s awareness is the nature of ceramics; usually pristinely designed and immaculately fashioned and fragile. These two opposing qualities are a reaction to the over riding influence of machines as opposed to the natural." - David Ray, 2017.

Judge's Comments on the winning work:

"David Ray's work trod an intelligent and informed path between parody of, and homage to, the history of ceramics. Freely worked in a highly expressive manner, it denied the obsessive perfectionism of baroque French & Italian porcelains, whilst acknowledging the way in which they can tell stories, and have political function.

His highly "Wild" decorative style used painted colour and gold lustre in a parody of the 18th and early 19th centuries, and also cheap overglaze transfers (or decals) to infill cartouches with a jungle of ''Wild'' animals- all on the endangered list. The fact that the decals were low quality against the opulence of the gilded surface enhanced the message of our relative values. 

Using material and technique as a narrative device is a highly sophisticated, and made this work a standout for me." - Janet DeBoos, 2017.