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Experimenting with Pottery

Experimenting with Pottery

Who remembers the colourful ceramic mural in the former arcade of the School of Arts?

Ceramic mural depicting a coral reef by Lone White
Lasting Impressions mural made by the Cairns Potters Club. It was placed in the former arcade of the School of Arts and officially handed over 16 November 1988.

This mural was created by the members of the local Cairns Potters Club. It was a reflection of the identity of Cairns as exemplified in one of the true Wonders of the World, the Great Barrier Reef.

“The reef has been described as a most intriguing ecosystem both robust and fragile. The multitude and endless variety of shapes, sizes and colours depend on a fascinating and complex intertwining relationship. Each system supporting the other in a unique blend of life and living dependant on both sun and ocean.”

As part of our latest exhibition Still Life Comes Alive, I approached Lone White to discuss her life-long experimenting with making ceramics. Lone is the president of the Cairns Potters Club.

The community art projects are valuable initiatives and showcase the works of local artists. Everybody knows Muddy’s Playground, right? The Cairns Potters Club created some of the awesome marine life ceramic presentations at the playground. The value of ceramic impressions embedded in urban architecture is remembered by the travelers and visitors who use the spaces and capture the ideas on the photographs. They carry the piece of art with them in their memories.

“The ceramic mural – Lasting Impression – was one of the first big projects I got involved in”, recalls Lone White. “I have very fond memories of working with a talented group of potters to first design the mural, then actually making it involving both potters and many children from schools in Cairns. My biggest challenge was the glazing of the mural, as in those days, potters could not buy underglaze colours. Anyhow it was the official opening I remember best where the arcade was full of people admiring our interpretation of the Great Barrier Reef. It is so sad that it cannot be seen anymore, as it had to be taken down, when the Council decided to close the arcade.”

Artist, Lone White, photographed in her pottery studio surrounded by artwork
Lone White in her studio-garden, September 2021

One of Lone’s first exhibitions was in the old Cairns Museum. “As vice president of the Cairns Art Society in 1982, I organised for the Cairns Art Society to have their annual exhibition in the upstairs part of the museum. The exhibition was a great success. Some years afterwards two painters Bev Ben and Lorraine Amadio and I as a potter were invited to have a small exhibition there as well, showing works inspired by the tropics, so in the earlier days the museums were very supportive of the visual arts.”

Collection of ceramic vases, inspired by the tropical rainforest's organic and leafy shapes
Lone White’s collection of the glazed rainforest forms at Crystalbrook Bailey, October-December 2021

More than 40 years later, Lone presents her work in the Museum again. “I have been playing with clay for nearly 50 years and I am still enjoying it. Over the last 10 years or so the rainforest forms and colours have inspired me to create a series of rainforest works using special glazes and firings to achieve that effect.”

Ceramic sculpture with organic forms and mint glaze
Ceramic sculpture with organic forms and red glaze
Ceramic sculpture with organic forms and purple glaze

2023-2024 Still Life Comes Alive exhibition on the Museum’s groundfloor features a few of the most recent ceramic experiments with the rainforest forms made by Lone White, pictured above. In the last few years, Lone has made ceramic forms inspired by flower blossoms in the tropics, using very colourful glazes. One is on display at the Museum and two will be exhibited at the Welcoming Cairns Exhibition at the Tanks Art Centre from 15 Dec 2023 to 14 Jan 2024. You are welcome to come and visit the Museum, and observe the blossoming flower, ripened Breadfruit, or an interestingly shaped ginger plant.

Lone White sitting at the Still Life Comes Alive exhibition at Cairns Museum next to her ceramic pieces
Lone White at Cairns Museum as part of the Still Life Comes Alive exhibition.

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