Amy Kennedy – Layer Upon Layer

The Whitehorse Collections Policy outlines the theme of craft as an identified area for acquisition, notably ceramics. Works must represent a maker’s continued and skilled practise and address issues of relevance to the cultural heritage of Whitehorse.

The Whitehorse Art Collection houses a gift from Ceramics Victoria that includes works by notable international ceramicists who gifted their work to the Ceramics Victoria Collection.

Innovative and original, Amy Kennedy is a remarkable young Victorian ceramic artist. Based in Melbourne, she is known for her undulating, complex ceramic forms. Made of infinite layers of clay, her work appears almost luminous under light due to the unique composition of the clay itself. 

Kennedy is an internationally acclaimed artist with three of her works included in the National Gallery of Victoria's ceramic collection.

In recent years, the Whitehorse Art Collection has acquired two works by Kennedy. The first work is the elemental, Untamed – Bush Block (multi-toned) 2017. Constructed in earthy tones, its organic form alludes to natural earth forms and rolling landscapes. The paper thin layers of ceramic appear like shale rock cliff or maybe a field of long grass blown in the wind.

Originating from Kennedy’s time studying at RMIT, the artist makes sculptural forms with her own mix of clay and glaze materials. She creates a bowl support for the components of her structures that can be broken and removed after the firing process. She constructs her pieces by a painstaking process of laying carefully rolled paper thin sheets of clay into the structure which bind together when fired.

Kennedy is frequently inspired by nature, and we see in the landscape pictured the scene that inspired her piece Untamed - Bush Block (multi-toned).

Layer Upon Layer

Last year the piece, Many Winters Ago II, was commissioned and acquired for the Whitehorse Art Collection. This extraordinary ceramic work fits neatly in the cradle of two cupped hands and almost appears to ripple in an unseen current. It could perhaps be something found in the natural world, maybe something from a coral reef or an ancient fossil formation – but not quite.

Accompanying a 2014 group exhibition at Mossgreen Gallery, Melbourne, Prue Venables wrote, 

"Extensive testing and development has produced bodies strong enough to form fine, paper-thin filaments of ceramic material to be slowly and laboriously built up into compacted, intimate and tightly layered objects. References to other media abound in this work with intriguing hints to paper, silken fabric, delicate undercarriages of mushrooms and even delicious mille-feuille pastries. Survival of these pieces in the kiln is clearly miraculous, a feat of courage, determination and great persistence."

There is a sense of wonder and mystery in Kennedy’s sculptural forms. Depending on the way light catches the raw edges of her work, they can appear both robust and delicate, organic and architectural. This duality is explored and pushed to its limits through her work. Kennedy's ceramic works acquired by Whitehorse Art Collection represent both a unique vision of contemporary Australian ceramics and a continued artistic exploration of the vast Australian landscape.  

Image credits:

  • Amy Kennedy, Untamed – Bush Block (multi-toned)  2017, artist blend clay/glaze material, glass additions, H 14 x W 40 x D40. Acquired by the Whitehorse Art Collection in 2017. Photographer Chris Sanders.
  • Inspiration for Amy Kennedy's work Untamed – Bush Block 2017
  • Amy Kennedy in the process of creating the work, Untamed – Bush Block 2017