Drawn by stones

Drawn by stones

Exhibition artists: Dean Cross; Ray Chan see kwong with community members, Chuen Lung;
Ruth Ju-shih Li; Wen-Hsi Harman Wen-Hsi Harman with: Lakaw, Dogin, Palos, Lisin, and Byimu; and Jody Rallah

17 July – 12 September 2021

Counihan Gallery
233 Sydney Road, Brunswick, Melbourne VIC

Curator: Bridie Moran

Assistant Curator: Annette Liu


Drawn by stones brings together artists who utilise the ceramic medium to interrogate contested histories, stolen land, Indigenous sovereignty, and concepts of national identity. Exhibiting artists from Australia, Hong Kong and Taiwan investigate the creation of a sense of ‘nationhood’ and ownership through ceramics and demonstrate how the ceramic form can both memorialise and tell alternative histories. 

Taking its title from Marvin Bell’s 1984 poem Drawn by Stones, by Earth, by Things That Have Been in the Fire, this exhibition recognises that the foundations of ceramic practice lie in the earth – and through the work of exhibiting artists, aims to expand the relevance of ceramic histories, dialogues and interrogations of land, place, sovereignty and ownership across Asia and Australia.

The exhibition is grounded by the 2020 installation of Monuments, Dean Cross’ site-responsive work – an ongoing project since 2016, intended for exhibition every two years. Cross’ Monuments challenges colonial concepts of ceramics, memorialising and memory, with handfuls of white ochre – handfuls of Ngunnawal/ Ngambri Country – gathered by the artist’s father on their property with permission from local elder and custodian of the land Aunty Matilda House – building a grid that spreads across the gallery floors. 

Contemporary ceramic projects by Wen-His Harman (Taiwan/United Kingdom) with Amis potters Lakaw, Dogin, Palos, Lisin, and Byimu; and Ray Chan see kwong (Hong Kong) with Chuen Lung community members highlight local and Indigenous ceramic tradition and materiality in times of change. Newly commissioned works from emerging ceramic artists Jody Rallah (Yuggera/Brisbane) and Ruth Ju-shih Li (Cammeraygal/Sydney) engage through workshop led and site specific practice with stories, clay and exchange. 

Over 2021 and 2022, Drawn by stones tours venues across Australia, connecting with local communities through workshops, discussions and shifting site specific works.  

This exhibition is presented in 2021 with the important support of the Counihan Gallery In Brunswick, part of Moreland City Council. Support for the development of Drawn by stones has been provided through project partners at the Taiwanese Economic and Cultural Office in Sydney, and The Gordon Darling Foundation.

Artist Biography:

Ray Chan’s works criss-cross between historical accounts and narratives, often deploying unexpected use of mediums. He is interested to unearth the past through layering, moulding, firing and experimenting in his ceramic practice. Having received his BA and MA degrees from the University of Cambridge, U.K., Ray also obtained his BA (Fine Art) and MFA degrees from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University (co-presented with Hong Kong Art School) in 2002 and 2007 respectively. Over the years, he has participated in Artist-in-residence programs in Japan, Korea and Estonia. Ray is currently a part-time lecturer at the Hong Kong Art School and Hong Kong Baptist University and the Vice Chairman of the Contemporary Ceramic Society (H.K.). His artworks are in the collection of the Hong Kong Heritage Museum.

Dean Cross was born and raised on Ngunnawal/Ngambri Country and is of Worimi descent. He is a trans-disciplinary artist primarily working across installation, sculpture and photography. His career began in contemporary dance, performing and choreographing nationally and internationally for over a decade with Australia’s leading dance companies. Following that Dean re-trained as a visual artist, gaining his Bachelor’s Degree from Sydney College of the Arts, and his First Class Honours from the ANU School of Art and Design.

Dean has shown his work extensively across Australia. This includes the Indigenous Ceramic Prize at the Shepparton Art Musuem, curated by Anna Briers and Belinda Briggs (2018), Tarnanthi at the Art Gallery of South Australia, curated by Nici Cumpston (2017), RUNS DEEP a solo show at Alaska Projects, Sydney (2018), The Churchie Emerging Art Prize (2016), The Redlands Konica Minolta Art Prize (2015), and the Macquarie Group Emerging Art Prize (2015) where his work was awarded the Highly Commended prize by artist Joan Ross. In 2018 Dean has also exhibited at the Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney, as a part of the NEXTWAVE Festival Melbourne, with curator Amelia Winata, and at Artbank, Sydney in Talia Smith’s “In a World of Wounds”. Also, Dean has been a year-long Artist in Residence at the Canberra Contemporary Art Space (CCAS). Dean was also selected to be a part of the 4A Beijing Studio Residency Program in Beijing, China.

Dean is represented by Yavuz Gallery, Sydney and Singapore.

WEN-HSI 文曦 Harman (1984-) was born in Taipei, Taiwan and is a ceramic artist currently living and working in Bristol, United Kingdom. She also is the member of the UNESCO-International Academy of Ceramics IAC and NCECA National Council on Education for the ceramic arts. Wen-Hsi studied her BA in Chinese Literature at the Soochow University, Taipei, Taiwan (2006). After this she studied her first MA in Chinese History of art in the National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei, Taiwan (2008). After this she studied her second MA in Contemporary Crafts (Ceramics) at the University for the Creative Arts, Farnham, UK (2010). She has been awarded the degree of the Doctor of Philosophy in ceramics at Bath Spa University, UK (2018).

Her ceramic practice investigates cross-cultural identity through clay. Living away from her homeland gives her a clearer perspective of the culture in which she grew up. These experiences have provided a platform from which she can address cross-cultural questions. Wen-Hsi creates series of ceramic art based on handmade sculptural porcelain spoons, fingerprints, bananas, and traditional Chinese characters to explore tension of cross-cultural identity, between the East and the West. Wen-Hsi has exhibited her work internationally in Taiwan, South Korea, Britain, Germany, France, China, Denmark and Australia. Her work is also in the public collections such as the Compass Centre, Bristol, UK (2017).  The Fule International Ceramic Art Museum in China (2016). The New Taipei City Yingge Ceramics Museum in Taiwan (2016). The Ceramic Foundation in South Korea (2015).

Ruth Ju-Shih Li is a ceramic artist currently working between Australia, China and Taiwan. She explores different ways of narrating both traditional and multicultural concepts of beauty, transcendence and the sublime. Li draws from her diverse philosophical and cultural heritage, and from the language of dreams, myths and utopias. Li has exhibited in Sydney, Taiwan, China, Korea, and Thailand. Ruth is represented by May Space, Sydney.

Jody Rallah is a descendant of the Biri Gubba, Yuggera and Warangu peoples. Rallah is an emerging contemporary Indigenous Australian Artist based in the unceded lands of Yuggera language nation, Brisbane. She employs a concept-led interdisciplinary practice which investigates how celebrating cultural wealth by creating ‘knowledge vessels’ as embodiments of living histories ranging from sculptural installations, to painting and performance, can generate ancestral healing. Her practice addresses living histories as vessels embedded in materiality, investigating how haptic processes of making can be used to create conversations spanning between generations; connecting community throughout the generations and opening dialogues of cultural exchange for hopefully futures.