Report from the Field – Abigail Sparks

Report from the Field – Abigail Sparks


I have recently returned from the Australian Ceramics Triennale, the 16th national celebration of contemporary ceramics, held every three years and for the first time in the Northern Territory in Mparntwe (Alice Springs) on Arrente Country. Still lingering with me are the colours of the landscape of red earth and rock, soft yellow grasses and green shrubs, and laughter – the sound of happy ceramic artists gathering to enjoy a shared love of clay.

This journey to the centre was epic, the distance and organisational complexities of the trip made it special but also only possible through the financial support of the Helen Dangar Memorial Art Bursary, which helped me pay for the conference ticket, flights and accommodation.

Community is central to my practice and I shared the experience with my good friends and ceramicists Ky Curran and Nicole Johnson – my “clay wives” with whom I first started pottery on Wytaliba Community over 20 years ago. Like many other conference delegates we took the extraordinary opportunity to explore the Central Desert whilst “nearby” (a 1000km roundtrip!). We approached Kata Tjuta and Uluru through the desert — the otherworldly and yet strangely familiar shapes beckoned from afar — our conversations able to loop and swirl, we had time to reconnect and investigate deep ideas. We talked a lot about the Uluru Statement from the Heart and read it whilst circling the rocks. Truth Telling was a key idea that kept circling throughout the conference.


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