CARAVAN 2, 2003

Important Australian + International Fine Art
27 August 2008

Gwyn Hanssen Pigott

born 1935
CARAVAN 2, 2003

translucent porcelain

21 pieces (7 bottles, 5 bowls, 1 cup, 8 beakers) 184.0 cm length

each stamped with roundel on base

$60,000 - 80,000

Rex Irwin Art Dealer, Sydney
Private collection, Sydney


Gwyn Hanssen Pigott, Rex Irwin Art Dealer, Sydney, 25 November – 19 December 2003, cat. 11
Gwyn Hanssen Pigott: Caravan, a parade of beakers, bottles, bowls, jugs and cups, Tate St Ives, England, 21 May – 26 September 2004, and touring to Farnham Craft Study Centre and Ruthin Craft Centre, North Wales 2004 – 2005


Cooper, E., Gwyn Hanssen Pigott: Caravan, a parade of beakers, bottles, bowls, jugs and cups, Tate St Ives, England, p. 15 & catalogue cover (illus.)

Catalogue text

'A group of bottles becomes a family. A straggling line of jugs and cups and tumblers becomes an assorted tribe journeying somewhere. A silent line of porcelain beakers waits in a window for the light to hit their rims and their ordinary beauty to become radiant.'1

One of Australia's most successful ceramic artists, Gwyn Hanssen Pigott is recognised internationally for the abstract simplicity of her meditative porcelain assemblies that epitomise the concept of shibui or 'truth beauty' espoused by her mentor Bernard Leach '...honesty, ordinariness, nobility, simplicity, humility, astringency'.2 Profoundly inspired by Leach, and other modernist potters such as Lucie Rie and Michael Cardew, these poised groupings of smooth-sided vessels, bowls and bottles are also highly evocative of Giorgio Morandi's transcendent still life studies, sharing an affinity in their composition, stillness and meticulous attention to form.

Featured on the cover of the catalogue accompanying the widely acclaimed retrospective of the artist's work recently held at the Tate St Ives, England, Caravan 2, 2003, is a metaphorical work encapsulating the artist's enduring interest in social relations, movement and travel. Arranged in a long linear procession, the group of twenty-one bottles, bowls and beaker shapes conveys a powerful sense not only of passage, but also purpose - thus shifting beyond the idea of the still life to evoke groups that occupy and move into their own space. Indeed, potter and critic Emmanuel Cooper observes, 'we have a suggestion of a welcoming communality, with shared ancestry, customs and habits as well as mutual concerns, even beliefs' The string of pieces seem directional, extending usually to the left and led out with beaker forms with their tilting lips - on they go like a quiet procession.'3 Yet, as Hanssen Pigott continually reminds her audience, such groupings are also ordinary domestic objects, '- just pots, that some days we might not look at twice. But they have for a moment pulled on our attention with, perhaps, a reminder of our own vulnerability, and beauty, and possibility of transformation and repose.'4

1. Hanssen Pigott, G., Object of Ideas: Ten Approaches to Contemporary Craft Practice, Queensland, 1996.
2. Leach cited in Gwyn Hanssen Pigott: Caravan, a parade of beakers, bottles, bowls, jugs and cups, Tate St Ives, England, 2004, p. 3
3. Cooper cited ibid., p. 22
4. Hanssen Pigott, op.cit.