Ceramic Series by Cassy McArthur

Cassy McArthur is an Australian Artist focused on the investigation and use of clay bodies, rock and materials collected from the natural environment to create hand-built ceramic forms. With an innate desire for discovery, Cassy developed an artistic pathway of exploration and discovery that aims to highlight inspiration, process and materiality, whilst remaining responsive to immersion, experience and discovery.

The Beginning

Cassy McArthur: Since a child, I have held a deep connection to the land and feel a great sense of freedom and pleasure when immersed in it. My studio is situated on the basaltic Western Plains of South West Victoria, Australia, and sits within a scoria cone dotted landscape classified as the Newer Volcanics Province. This geological landscape inspires my current work, as does the vast seasonal changes that occur within it. From the monumental to the minute, I am fascinated by the beauty and intricacies found within the geological landscape across the globe. I am in awe of the ever-changing landscape and the history embedded within it.

The Main concept

Cassy McArthur: By translating nuances of the geological landscape into works designed to sit within the lived interior, I aim to form a bridge of connectedness between the man-made lived experience and the natural world. Considering the relationship between the human lived experience and the natural world, I look beyond the interior space to stimulate awareness of the relationship between our existence and the natural world. Through uncomplicated design, I aim for my work to sit quietly evoking contemplation, as one may experience when immersed in the natural world.

Immersion, Experience and Discovery

Cassy McArthur: Within my art practice, inspiration, process, and materiality are interwoven, and one would not exist without the other. My work aims to connect the viewer to the natural world, so it is important for me to provide a visual and tactile experience linked to my inspiration. I hope to translate my own visceral connection to the landscape in a way that becomes quietly evocative for another person.

Cassy McArthur: Materiality and process are fundamental to my art practice and, as such, are key determiners of the outcome. Inconsistencies with unprocessed foraged materials provide a desired technical challenge and scope for new and unplanned results. When creating a piece, I begin with an idea, but the materials guide and determine the outcome. By celebrating the material characteristic within my work, I aim to give voice to the materials and, as such, the landscape itself.

Cassy McArthur: Through experimentation, I discover new material behaviors and celebrate these within my ceramic pieces. I see a strong connection between the material irregularities within my work and those that occur within nature. Through my experiences of engagement with the landscape, my practice draws on observation, adaptation, and a desire for new technical challenges. With an experimental approach, I draw on memories and experience within the natural world to guide my artistic direction. Immersion, experience, and discovery are also essential to my art practice. Creating a visceral connection opens the door for evoking memory and forging deeper creative outcomes. When immersed in the natural environment, I become aware of my sensations, thoughts, and observations. I find myself exploring with fascination, often experiencing a child-like wonder. This same sense of fascination extends into the studio and drives my ongoing engagement within my ceramic art practice.

Material Collection Process

Cassy McArthur: My material collection process is a form of foraging or fossicking where I take small amounts of materials to minimize disturbance and retain the aesthetics and natural function of the immediate environment. As such, my creative process is determined by the materials I can collect at any given time. Weather and access to materials has a huge impact on the collection process and, as such, my creative outcomes.

Cassy McArthur: Hand-collection of clay is often strenuous and, at times, difficult work due to the location it may be found. In contrast to clay collection, foraging for other materials such as plant matter is a calm and contemplative experience. Due to the diversity of available materials, the collection is often determined by the seasons and must be considered year-round.

Cassy McArthur: Once I have the clay and materials back at the studio, I process some materials in various ways. This is a time-consuming process, but it provides a greater diversity of material characteristics for the creation of my pieces. A single piece is the result of many and varied experiences throughout the entire process.

Relationship to Nature

Cassy McArthur: For as long as I can remember I have been drawn to the outside natural world. It is when I feel most free. The artistic pathway I have chosen encapsulates that feeling and opportunity for immersion, observation, study and reflection of the natural environment whilst providing an avenue of expression.

Cassy McArthur: A couple of my fondest memories as a child are sitting atop a granite boulder close to my grandparents’ house on their farm making mud pies or composing poetry or jingles in my head, and walking across the landscape collecting and studying little things I found. My art practice is a doorway to the natural world and, in truth, is a form of breathing, a stepping away from the navigations of contemporary life and returning to something that exists in its rawest form.

Interview with Cassy Mcarthur | Photography Cassy Mcarthur.