Tanja ceramicist Barry Jackson says he is surprised to have taken out this year’s Sculpture on Clyde major prize.
“There was some monumental stuff on show,” the 68-year-old said after his work Dark Earth impressed judges.
I treat it like a painting, and try to build a visual image. I like the process, and I like the density of the colour it creates.Sculpture on Clyde 2018 major prize winner Barry Jackson
Such little chance did he think his indoor piece had of winning against the larger outdoor exhibited works, he thought a friend was playing a prank when he called about the win.
“For ceramics it is unusual, because in sculpture prizes it used to be that anything made from clay was part of the craft world,” Mr Jackson said.
His unique technique of multiple firings, adding sump oil, and breaking and piecing back together of his work, and its bold finish is what caught the eyes of competition judges.
“I used to throw them away, but then I decided to put a mallet to it and put it back together like an artwork,” he said.
“I treat it like a painting, and try to build a visual image. I like the process, and I like the density of the colour it creates.”
Working from his scenic Tanja studio, Mr Jackson said the environment is a major influence in his work.
“For me, it portrays the landscape after human inhabitation, and the desolation we’re causing,” he said.
“We are using so much for our ego, rather than cherishing what we have.”
Mr Jackson was a young art student during the Vietnam War, and it’s a time that has stayed with him as an artist.
“The whole late 1960s and early 1970s was about politicisation of the population towards the war,” he said.
“It didn’t have an immediate impact, but it bleeds through you. The media and politicians are always manipulating public opinion. If everyone knew what was actually going on, it would be a very different place.”
A fringe-dweller of the art world for many years, said the key to creating art which stands out in a room of talent is to provoke thought.
“When your art triggers your own imagination, you know the piece you’ve made works,” Mr Jackson said.
He discovered the space where his home and studio now sit by mistake during a drive from Queensland to Victoria in 1972.
“Four cars driving past would’ve been a big day back then. I thought who in the hell could live in a place like this.” he said with a laugh.
While Mr Jackson said he feels anywhere is conducive to creativity, the forested backdrop and close proximity to national park does influence his work.
“Here, once you reach an agreement with the environment, you get a peace of mind and space in your head that declutters your work. You can hone in very specifically into what is driving you,” he said.