Beyond the bowl revisited: Eloise Rankine + Emma Varga & the impact of COVID-19 upon their artistic practices

Whilst the doors to Hurstville Museum & Gallery were closed to the public due to COVID-19, staff took this opportunity to re-visit and reconsider past exhibitions.  Eloise Rankine and Emma Varga were a part of Beyond the bowl. Both have candidly shared their thoughts and the impact this pandemic has had on their artistic practice.

Eloise Rankine

I’m incredibly lucky to have my studio in my home so have been able to work more or less as usual. I have felt strange conflicting pressures to both take advantage of this situation to be more productive but also to slow down and prioritise self-care. I guess at the moment I am trying to find a balance between the two.

Eloise at the wheel

Eloise Rankine at work on the wheel.

Currently I’m focusing on developing a range of functional tableware for my elph ceramics range, During this process I have had a few happy accidents which have led to interesting ‘broken’ artworks. It has also given me a bit of time to play around with some older works to rearrange and add them to new ones – as in one of the images attached.

Eloise work in progress.

Eloise Rankine, works in progress.

I have always made both artworks and functional-ware simultaneously and this is proving to be quite an enjoyable time to play around with some clay that I haven’t used before – in particular black and terracotta clays. I always find that my studio time flows quite naturally between functional and non-functional making and at the moment, it just happens to be on the more functional side.

I am also preparing to move my studio from a small space in Sydney to a larger space in the Southern Highlands of NSW. I am not sure how this will affect my future artworks but I am envisioning more space for experimenting and laying out installation works.

Eloise Rankine, Play with me, 2019.

Eloise Rankine, Play with me, 2019.


Emma Varga

For most of the artists, including myself, the COVID-19 pandemic feels a bit like someone suddenly pulled a rug under our feet – ALL exhibitions, projects, teaching postponed or cancelled. My trip to US has been cancelled, this included teaching and two solo exhibitions in Bender Gallery, Asheville, North Carolina and another show at Chasen Gallery, Sarasota, Florida – all postponed for Fall. We’ll see how that will work out.

The ‘Masters’ show at Sabbia Gallery in Sydney is open online, but is staged behind locked doors of the gallery. 

It seems all art is moving to ‘digital’ and ‘online’, but I’m not sure how that will affect sales, necessary to provide funds for continuing our practice. Back to my everyday life in the studio – it is almost as usual: me being ‘quarantined’ in the studio, accompanied by my cats, working all day until late at night. I can just continue working, as long I have materials.  

In some way, working more (creating new works) is quite a good way to keep my sanity.

Below are some recent works Emma has created since exhibiting at Hurstville Museum & Gallery.

Varga 1

Autumn wreath #3
Fused, cast glass
42 x 29 x 4cm


forces of nature

Forces of nature – green, pate de verre bowl, diam. 29cm

forces of nature1

Forces of nature – green, pate de verre bowl, diam. 29cm

Little roses wreath

Little roses wreath 
pate de verre wall panel
30 x 30 x 3cm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s