Launch of On Stillness: Peter Rushforth
Our new online exhibition in collaboration with Newcastle Art Gallery
Today we are excited to launch On Stillness, an evolving online exhibition presented across the social media accounts of public art galleries. Initiated by the National Art School and Newcastle Art Gallery, it highlights artworks from the collections of participating institutions that embody the idea of stillness.
As COVID-19 restrictions ease and the pace of regular life cautiously resumes, On Stillness reminds us to slow down and remain observant. Simply follow the hashtag #onstillnessexhibition to see the growing number of works and gallery collaborators.
We are kicking off with celebrated ceramic artist and Zen enthusiast Peter Rushforth. Peter Rushforth (1920–2015) was a master potter largely responsible for introducing ancient Japanese ceramic traditions to Australia. After early studies in Melbourne, he was appointed as the first full-time ceramics teacher at NAS in 1951. ‘Blossom jar’ and ‘Vase’ in the NAS Collection are examples of his manipulation of abstract form and surface to reflect ineffable human qualities. One such quality he admired in Japanese ceramics was jaku, meaning ‘to be quiet’ or ‘mellow’. The calm poise of his vessels is in harmony with the vitality of their variegated surfaces. The textured ‘Blossom jar’ shows his groundbreaking use of stoneware techniques in an Australian context, which often incorporated granulated rocks from his local environment. This work was based on the mist in the valley outside his studio window. His renowned chun glaze, evident in the second image of ‘Vase’, evokes limpid azure skies. Rushforth’s pots suggest the silent transformations of atmospheric phenomena and the slow time of geological change. Like a view of the earth from space, they are still but invisibly turning worlds
Images 1 and 3: Peter Rushforth, Blossom jar, c. 1980s, salt-glazed stoneware, 22 x 22 cm; Vase, c. 1980s, stoneware, chun glaze 24 x 25 cm. National Art School Collection, gifts of Georg, Keay and Anders Lindstrom 2015
Image 2: Peter Rushforth (seated, left) with NAS ceramics students and teachers, 1960s. National Art School Collection, gift of Mollie Douglas 2005