Works by Robyn Campbell and Jo Victoria 

Integrating glass and porcelain is a passionate focus of my art practice, so writing about two artists who are exploring these exquisite materials, each requiring challenging processes of making, is an exciting task. However, discussing art objects that I have not experienced in ‘real’ life and time is unfamiliar, although 2020 is a year for unparalleled experiences. The art world must move forward by expanding its virtual engagement so artists, writers, galleries and their audiences remain connected, enabling forms of physical distancing to reboot our lives. Fortunately, I have walked around, touched and engaged with Jo Victoria and Robyn Campbell’s earlier work during exhibitions and studio visits. Memories of haptic body and object interactions - gliding fingers across clay surfaces and soaking up the three dimensionalities of an object whilst sharing the same space - seem more crucial now than ever before.

The exhibition titled Transference - the action of transferring something - encapsulates Victoria and Campbell’s shared enthusiasm for light in action. Both artists engage with porcelain and glass forms to activate reflections, shadows, glints, shimmers, flickers and transience. Within bodies of porcelain, light animates a soft white translucency, and in bodies of kiln cast and slumped glass, light radiates a crystal-like transparency.

As demonstrated by the artists’ earlier work, form is realised in very distinct ways. Victoria deconstructs the solidity of form by allowing light to pierce through fragmented or perforated slip cast segments and organic burn-outs [1] . Campbell reinforces shape and form by attaining a continuity of surface across planes of porcelain, glass and enclosed structures. For Campbell, this approach encourages reflected light to transit smoothly and quietly across open vessels and enclosed objects that are nestled within.
Sharing an enthusiasm for the natural environment, Victoria’s porcelain forms echo the fragility of disintegrating organic matter or fractured shells found at the edge of oceans. Reflective high gloss glazes and aquamarine kiln slumped glass capture the transitory and fleeting ocean light that is so fundamental to her practice.

Campbell’s glass and porcelain pieces reconfigure patterns and shapes experienced during nature walks, as essential and simple material manifestations. The interplay between open and enclosed organic forms, intensified by fleeting light and shadow, transmits a visual narrative that speaks to protection, shelter, containment, calmness and tranquillity. Pool and Echo in particular visualises the interrelated natural world in a refined and sensuous manner.

Transference is an exhibition that foregrounds the capacity of light to activate inanimate clay and glass forms and suggests the beauty and transience of the natural world. This show presents a collection of stunning pieces and given the opportunity, audiences would marvel at their beauty, strength, vulnerability and obvious dedication to craftmanship. On the other hand, Transference may also allude to the act of sharing material knowledge, skills and different responses to the world of nature. Trained as a glass artist, Robyn Campbell suggests the quiet beauty of landscapes with the interplay of light and relational porcelain and glass forms. Trained as a ceramics artist, Jo Victoria captures and reflects light through the fragility of porcelain and glass forms to advocate for the transcendence of seascapes. Transference is the end result of a collaborative narrative between the artists that encapsulates a passion for porcelain, glass, light and the natural world that they occupy.

Dr Julie Bartholomew
Ceramic artist and educator

[1] The ceramic process of burning out organic material coated with porcelain casting slip.

Image: Jo Victoria, 2020. Photo: courtesy of the artist.