Sydney artist takes out Gold Coast award

Sydney-based artist Stephen Bird has today been announced the winner of the 30th Gold Coast International Ceramic Art Award winning $10,000 for his creations.

The winning piece entitled Men from Korea was constructed from clay, slip, pigment and glaze.

Guest judge Glenn Barkley, artist, and Co-Founder/ Co-Director of The Curators’ Department had the difficult job of selecting the winner from the 51 artists selected as finalists. He acknowledged Bird’s influence in the ceramic medium particularly with new and emerging artists.


‘Stephen is a great artist who makes works that reference the personal as well as ceramics long history incorporating snatches of real life alongside shards of ceramics past. Stephen’s work for a long time has been a touchstone for younger artists and as if to demonstrate in this show there is an abundance of handmade, cast or found works which in some way have a familial link to Stephen’s practice,’ Mr Barkley said.

Bird, who is also a teacher at the National Art School in Sydney, initially trained as a painter and now works across a range of mediums. An acclaimed and award winning artist, this is Bird’s first win for a ceramic award.

‘I’ve been making ceramics for the last 15 years now. When I first started I was self-taught. I was trained as painter at art college, so initially I wasn’t that well accepted by the world of ceramics. My ceramics have won a few different awards before, including a small sculpture prize and numerous painting prizes with ceramics, but this is first time my ceramics has actually won a ceramic art prize, and I think that is a reflection of the changing world and the way that ceramics is perceived and the way the diversity of ceramics is accepted in main stream art culture,’ he said.

On his winning work Men in Korea, Bird explains he experimented with different processes.

‘The works are two sculptures that I made in when I was in Korea. They differ a little bit from my normal work because I was using some very different clays and glazes. I didn’t have access to moulds I would normally use to press mould sections so they are very handmade, very hands on and very much experimental works,’ he said.

Gallery Director Tracy Cooper-Lavery said it was pleasing to witness a revival of ceramic art and acknowledged the Ceramic Art Award as a driving force behind the development of what is one of regional Australia’s most significant collections of contemporary ceramic art.

‘Tonight’s results are a great incentive for artists who are new to the ceramic medium and it’s been a wonderful opportunity to promote the work of these emerging artists who are using the medium in exciting ways.’ she said.

In addition the following works from the exhibition were also acquired by Gold Coast City Gallery:

Penny Evans, Seven Sisters Morning Bowl 2015, terracotta, underglazes, glaze
Dawn Vachon, Beard and Tie 2016, clay, glaze, copper wire, solder (lead free)
Kirsten Perry, Good Enough Zebra vases 2016, porcelain, agateware, glaze

The exhibition will continue at Gold Coast City Gallery until 23 October 2016 in Gallery 1.