Merran Esson – Beyond the bowl artist

Merran Esson has been at the forefront of Australian ceramics for many years. She has exhibited extensively in both solo and group exhibitions and had work in many touring regional exhibitions. Esson’s work is represented in public and private collections, including the National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of South Australia, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Museum for Kunsthhandwerk und Gewerbe, Hamburg and the Institut fuer Kuenstlerische Keramik und Glas, Germany. Merran Esson has, until recently, been the Head of Ceramics at the National Art School for many years.

For Merran Esson, her childhood days in the foothills of the Snowy Mountains in NSW have profoundly influenced her artistic expression.  Inspired by remnant objects discarded and left to decay in a rural landscape, Esson explores the concepts of impermanence and the strength of nature.

Although her early ceramic pieces were functional, utilitarian items for use in the home, a quote from British Poet, Peter Dormer was to inspire her to create objects that challenged function. ‘Function is the subject matter, not the purpose; the purpose is art.’ This resulted in Esson undertaking an exploration of scale and functionality, creating and challenging responses and reactions.

Merran Esson. Broken Buckets, Breaking Boundaries. 2018

Merran Esson, Broken buckets, breaking boundaries 2018 stoneware, clay and glazes

Using clay as a medium, she creates items inspired by rural architecture and farm life, referencing this through creating a range of textures.  One can catch a glimpse of the familiar lines of galvanised iron amalgamated within these shapes and curves. Angles and protrusions depict a decaying structure, sinking into itself and the landscape.  These are not vessels that can ‘contain’, holes can be found within each vessel allowing light, air and space to flow within each form.

I am interested in the collision of man and nature, I watch the changing landscape and notice how we plant rows of trees, and put up fences, creating a manmade pattern in the landscape which constantly fights with the rhythms of nature”. – Merran Esson

These large scale ceramic works confidently sit within the Gallery space.  Bold solid glazes in red, blue, yellow and green capture the visitors gaze, coupled with alternating shapes and textures that appear to fuse together as Esson comments on the collision of nature and man.


Merran Esson in her studio.

Esson’s works and nine other leading ceramic and glass artists can be discovered at Hurstville Museum & Gallery’s exhibition Beyond the bowl, running until 18 April 2019. Beyond the bowl highlights and celebrates the diversity of Australian contemporary ceramics and glass.

For further information please refer to Merran Esson’s web page 

Merran Esson is represented by Stella Downer Fine Art 

Featured image: Merran Esson, Blue bucket (detail) 2018 stoneware, clay and glazes

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