In Plain Sight Press Release
In her new exhibition In Plain Sight, Naarm-based ceramic artist Sarah Muir-Smith celebrates the extraordinary ordinariness of everyday objects, transforming them into ceramics, textiles and ink paintings.
Within these artworks, antacids, kitty litter, cement and even haemorrhoid suppositories reveal the beauty hiding in plain sight- in our houses, backyards and the streetscapes of our urban environment.
The ceramic, textile and ink artworks created by Sarah Muir-Smith for In Plain Sight include everyday materials lying in our bathroom cupboards, medicine cabinets and garden sheds. Her work urges us to rethink the value of objects and reminds us that everyday items have a hidden potential that extends beyond what is obvious.
In early Japanese ceramics, the hidden potential of local materials was discovered and utilised to great affect- rice hulls and wood ash were found to contain silica which became glassy surfaces in the high heat of the kiln. Wondering how to reveal the secrets of the materials in her own urban environment, Sarah experimented for months to create this body of work which utilises one or more elements of her immediate environment in each piece.
The works combine found, natural, waste and household ingredients with commercial ceramic ingredients on over 16 sculptural objects, as well as on fabric and paper. Transformed by heat, they shine in a new light- creating objects of beauty and function.
When asked about working with foraged, found and everyday materials, Sarah says: “Making this work has given me a way to allow the voices of the materials all around me to be heard. The most mundane things like antacids, vegetable scraps and sunscreen can transform into something beautiful, transcending their initial purpose. Everything around us is made from the same chemical building blocks, and viewing my environment in this way has opened up a world of possibility right at my doorstep.”
Sustainability and respect for the natural world is also central to Sarah’s practice. She is increasingly incorporating waste materials into her work. The natural elements in In Plain Sight have been foraged with permission from traditional owners.
Sarah hopes that In Plain Sight will inspire curiosity and resourcefulness in her audience. “Our planet’s resources are finite, so it’s time to think differently about how we consume, and to recognise the value of objects we take for granted.”
A strong advocate for skill-sharing and collaboration, Sarah is excited to bring about her interest in found materials and experimentation to the natural ink making workshop accompanying In Plain Sight.
Friday 18th November – Thursday 1st December 2022
Louis Joel Gallery, Altona (5 Sargood St)
To register for workshops and for more info, visit: www.ljac.com.au or www.snakebirddesigns.com
- Ceramics, textiles, ink artworks by emerging Melbourne artist Sarah Muir-Smith
- Using found, foraged, and everyday materials to explore connection to place and the everyday
- Focus on environmental sustainability in artistic practice
Kitty litter, Gaviscon, milk of magnesia, Rennie’s, sunscreen, facial mask, haemorrhoid suppositories, bone health tablets, chalk, copper wire, wood ash, scoria, cement, nitrous oxide canister rust, foraged clay, onion skins, cabbage leaves, charcoal.
About the artist
One of Naarm’s most exciting emerging creative and ceramic artists, Sarah Muir-Smith is an active member of the ceramics community. She works predominantly in ceramics under the name Snakebird Designs, and has volunteered and held stalls at markets like the Melbourne Ceramics Market, Three Day Clay, The Rose St market, and Coburg Maker’s Market.
Sarah’s inspiration comes from the natural world- she is drawn to the allure of unrefined, foraged materials – making her own glazes and clay blends which allow for an intimate, personal connection to the process and finished works, while contextualising her practice within the rich global history of ceramics and art.
Sarah’s work under Snakebird Designs has been described as considered, grounded, organic and joyful. It is largely influenced by Japanese ceramics, particularly the ethos of resourcefulness and honouring the materials available to you by finding the best methods to make them shine, instead of forcing your own style upon them. Sarah attends the School of Clay and Art, where her study of materials has been facilitated.
In 2021, Sarah was an early participant in the Louis Joel Arts & Community Centre’s internship program, aimed to guide emerging artists in Melbourne’s West to complete a project of their choosing, whilst giving back to the community. It is through this opportunity that In Plain Sight has come to life.
Sarah teaches hand-building ceramics workshops and weekly wheel classes at her studio in Coburg.
0434 698 078