Owen Rye

Owen Rye — 'Abstract 4' Sculpture


"This work is about nothing. It refers to nothing. It derives from nothing. If you try to make something from it you are missing its essentiality. Perhaps you cannot accept there is nothing. You may ask questions like: ‘Why?’ My answer is ‘Shhhh – please be quiet; go away. You are disturbing my emptiness’. 

It is relevant to refer to Zen, or any other eastern philosophies. That is just another intrusion into the essential nothingness. Consider Pollock’s drippings and swirlings – these are simply paint on canvas. If you see something in it you have missed the point. It’s about nothing. Why then you may ask, does it have the power to draw us into its void? 

Energy can pass between you and the artwork, in a kind of bonding. Like a good marriage, do not analyse – leave it alone, just live it. You may of course feel the need – and should feel free -to analyse a bad one. If you do not bond with these abstractions analyse away, there is nothing to lose – and probably nothing to gain. 

It’s true that something can be made from nothing. My work here emerges from nothing. I sit at a table with an empty mind, with no plan, no image, no structure. Doing something simple starts off a suggestion about what to do the next. The work itself asks for more. Where, how – not useful questions, just try this, try that, try something else and Bingo! There it is. It has constructed itself using my hands and eyes."



Owen Rye (b 1944) from Australia is a member of the International Academy of Ceramics. He is known internationally for being at the forefront of the contemporary woodfiring movement. Through his artwork, his writing and his teaching many ceramic artists have been inspired to follow the woodfirer’s path. 

Completing his doctorate in 1970, the first in Australia in the ceramic arts, he worked with archaeologists at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC and the Prehistory Department, ANU. From 1980 he taught ceramics in art schools for 25 years, at the Canberra School of Art and then at Monash University Gippsland, there mainly supervising postgraduate students. About 80 of them graduated. 

He has exhibited in Australia and internationally and is represented in public collections in USA, China, Korea, Germany, France, and many Australian collections including the Australian National Gallery, most state and many regional galleries, and in private collections. His recent artist-in-residency stints were in China, Korea, USA and Australia. 

His extensive writing has been published in many ceramics magazines around the world, and he is author of five books including The Art of Woodfire, published in 2011. The most recent are a memoir, Beyond Short Street, published by Australian Scholarly; and a book on Palestinian potters; both 2021 publications. He has conducted online and in person workshops on writing.

Materials: terracotta, poplar base

Dimensions:  approx. 24 x 34 x 20cm 

Contact a Craft consultant shop@craft.org.au for more information or to commission a similar work on a 12 week lead time 

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