Ceramist Honor Freeman was drawn to working with clay at high school by an inspirational art teacher and went on to study at the old South Australian School of Art in Underdale.
Through her love of material she has come to know much about ceramics, especially her chosen material porcelain. Made from high-firing Chinese Kaolin clay, porcelain originated and was refined in China using closely guarded techniques and a secret recipe.
Today’s Australian porcelain differs from that original recipe yet does display many of the traditional material’s remarkable qualities. Freeman says that porcelain “is a very strong material and has a memory, it will remember shapes and needs careful handling”.
It is this element of memory and mimicry that Freeman explores with porcelain, using mould-making and slip casting to create objects inspired by the domestic and humble realm of the everyday. Her remarkable installation Soap Score (2016) comprises 656 individually crafted ceramic soaps, modelled from used soaps gathered from when Freeman worked in motels and from gifts donated from friends, family and strangers.
“People have disappeared from the room, but there are objects left behind,” Freeman says. “The ceramic soaps are a reverse making process, the soap wears away but in the making process they become solid and permanent.”
Freeman is fascinated by the “everydayness’ of ceramics”, a material that is all around us in the home, industry, science, and beneath our feet. She aims to draw attention to the things that go unnoticed around us, exploring texture and what she calls “the trickery of material and transformation”.
A current Guildhouse Collections Project will see her delving into the Art Gallery of South Australia’s collection of thousands of ceramic pieces, and she is excited to find the many invisible or unknown makers of ghost objects.
For Freeman, this is a fascinating aspect of craft-making, that the object remains but often the maker is unknown. For the Collections Project, she is seeking out the imperfections, the breakages and the chips and how the repair reflects the individual who restores the object.
Audiences will also have the opportunity to meet these unknown makers and restorers when Freeman’s explorations will be exhibited at the Art Gallery as part of SALA 2019.
Honor Freeman is part of the Well Made community and is featured on the platform.
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Header image: Honor Freeman, Soap score (detail.), 2016, slipcast porcelain, 3.5 h x 156 w x 158 cm d, 656 components
Photography: Craig Arnold