"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 irrelevant 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, Cooma NSW) is a member of the International Academy of Ceramics, a Life Member of the Australian Ceramics Association and a member of Craft Victoria.
He is known internationally for his woodfired ceramics, but his work now is more diverse and experimental. He has exhibited in all states of Australia and in England, France, Germany, USA, Japan, China, Korea, Singapore, Italy, and New Zealand. His work is in public collections in USA, Germany, France, China, Japan, Korea and Australia including the Australian National Gallery, most state and many regional galleries. He has won awards in Australia, Germany and the USA.
He has worked in many other aspects of ceramics including archaeology, teaching postgraduate students, delivering workshops in Australia and overseas, curating exhibitions, organising conferences, and writing five books including his recent memoir Beyond Short Street, and some 70 articles for ceramics magazines internationally.
Image courtesy the artist.