Rye Golden Ashes
Owen Rye is to meet a man of fine intelligence, cast within a wiry
beard, with eyes that are truly alert yet kind. His speech is well
tempered but knowing and suggestive of vast experience. Now
approaching 70 he is correctly accredited with inspiring the
continued development of wood-fired ceramics in Australia.
unsought mantle sits easily with this dedicated maker for whom the
supreme creative process is to place his superbly thrown pots into
the anagama kiln, where they endure several days of firing. Selected
timbers are loaded in the huge worm-like anagama kiln, and for
several days and nights a changing group of people attend the kiln,
and bond and contribute to the outcome.
beautiful mountain ridge property at Boolarra, Gippsland, Owen Rye
has established an ideal ceramic centre that functions as studio,
timber yard and home. A nearby avenue of old trees runs along the
edge, and in the distance the hills roll away. It is both Australian
and archetypal in its appeal. The setting carries within it the
history of the area, the efforts of Owen Rye and the influence of the
pots themselves. Such poetic evocations are necessary, as the end-
point is hard to describe without some prelude.
the lungs of the kiln, the swirling flames lash at the crouched pots,
and their surfaces pickle and pit in the purifying heat. The pots
emerge barnacled with ash and riddled with glaze runs, as the natural
juices from the timbers bake, burn and ooze over the ceramic forms,
during the several days of hellish fire.
comes out could be called uncontrolled, though it is the result of
days following the firing, the kiln cools and its contents are
garnered and sifted. The silence of the moment extends as each piece
is inspected. Glories and failures sit side by side, until a body of
satisfactory work is revealed.
process has just begun.
the next few years and decades each ceramic will find a special home
in a collector’s house, or in the artist’s home, and each day
and night its form shall quietly change in the light. The moods of
the works will alter and eventually a vocabulary of meanings will
turn into memories, and the collector will form a relationship with
the reward of the wood-fired ceramicist.
Pascoe (Director, Craft Victoria)