I recently had the great pleasure of meeting delightful and super talented Sydney based ceramic artist Alex Standen. I had seen her work online, of course, when we covered ‘Art/ Vert‘, the beautiful group exhibition recently curated by our Sydney contributor Amber Creswell Bell.
Alex is a thoughtful, meticulous creative who makes both functional and decorative work, with a process she describes as ‘clean and methodical’. Working from her studio in Alexandria, Alex creates delicate vessels which combine paper thin fragility with vivid colour, using porcelain and intense indigo pigment.
My husband does not usually take much interest in my Instagram feed. But, a few months ago when I posted a photo of teeny tiny painted pinch pots, displayed en masse by ceramicist Alexandra Standen, not only did he take note – but he actually tracked her down and bought two pieces on the sly! Such is the allure of her work.
Originally intending to be a painter, Alex instead found herself hooked on clay after just one lesson in ceramics in her first year at the National Art School. ‘It just fell into place after art school, I knew straight away that I wanted to make a ceramic practice sustainable, so found a studio and spent every waking moment in there creating,’ says Alex.
Describing her work-style as ‘clean and methodical’, Alex explains that her ideas often involve a lot of technical process, meaning everything she does takes a long time. To keep things interesting, she works on several projects at once, predominately with porcelain and coloured pigments, using both electric and gas fired kilns.
Alex works with her hands a lot, leaving imprints on the surface, creating fragility in both functional and sculptural objects. Influenced by how humans assign meaning to symbols to address fundamental questions about society, the use of blue and indigo has become a strong aspect of her work over recent time – a colour steeped in ancient, symbolic meaning.
Last year Alex was fortunate enough to do a couple of very formative residencies abroad, in both Israel and Paris. ‘Because of the creative people I lived and worked with I found new ways of making, infused with different ideas and concepts. I have brought these ideas back to my new studio in Alexandria and feel a fresh practice taking shape,’ she says.
One of Alex’s favourite recent projects was at Shepparton Art Museum, where she made over 300 porcelain ladders to create a large wall installation. Alex has a particular fondness for creating vast collections of pieces, and a keen interest in how her work sits as part of an installation.
When asked what her dream creative scenario would be, Alex explains that she would ‘love to work on creating a space in someone’s home, designing and making every object to be functional and aesthetically beautiful.’
Alex’s work is available at Small Spaces in Sydney, and will soon be available at Mr Kitly in Melbourne. Alex will also be part of a group show at Saint Cloche Gallery in May this year.