Jane Sawyer

Jane Sawyer – 'Dry River' Sculptural Vessel, 2024


Using humble vessels, particularly the bucket form, that serve humanity by the practical goal of collecting, storing, cooling and purifying water have become symbolic to Jane Sawyer in the human challenge for survival. Seeking to honour and elevate these vessels status whilst provoking consideration of how we use and value water.


The warming of our planet presents a climate emergency threatening all life as we know it. In Australia where we have experienced searing droughts and raging floods for centuries, climate change presents us with the horrific spectre of increased frequency and intensity of these catastrophic events. Water, whether lack of or abundance of, is central as it is essential to life. Water politics debates rage while water rights are sold as a commodity.

I choose to work with a local natural terracotta clay for environmental and aesthetic reasons. It matures at a low temperature therefore using less fuel than other clays and is easily sourced locally using minimum carbon miles. Its intense red ochre colour is symbolic of the Australian outback. I also wish to share some of its lesser-known environmentally-sound properties such as the evaporative cooling and heat-insulating capacities that arise from its porous nature. Terracotta is truly an amazing clay that we all know through roof tiles to water pipes but within the ceramic craft spectrum it has often been seen as somewhat "lessor". In using it I seek to draw attention not only to its value but the need for urgent climate action.”

Melbourne based maker, Jane Sawyer, is known for her ceramic objects where the line between function and sculpture is questioned and her works are conceptually underpinned by research and enquiry. Informed by traditional studio apprenticeships (in Australia 1982-85) and Japan (1985-87) Sawyer also holds an MFA by Research titled The Evocative Object (2002) which presented the object's power to engage the body through the sense of touch, fluidity and gesture. Sawyer's objects invite multiple ways of 'seeing' yet she chooses to work within a narrow material set both to address environmental concerns and to enable a deep and naturally evolving exploration over a long period. She exhibits nationally and internationally, and her work has won awards and is held in many public and private collections including Shepparton Art Museum, Hikawa City, Japan, and Clay Ceramic Museum, Denmark. She contributes to professional boards and is a member of the International Academy of Ceramics.

A committed educator, Sawyer is the founding director of Slow Clay Centre, Melbourne. She is a member of Clay Matters collective, a group established to research and communicate responsible ceramic practice. Sawyer's practice encompasses working toward exhibitions, limited edition series and bespoke commissions.

Material Provenance


May 2 – June 15 2024

Clay Matters presents ‘Material Provenance’, an exhibition featuring four Melbourne ceramicists in Craft’s Atrium comprising outcomes from an international research project created by past and present members of the Clay Matters artist collective.

Read more here

Material: terracotta clay, slip, inlay

Dimensions: 24 x 14 x 13.5cm

1 piece in stock.

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