Still life with two cups 2005
Translucent porcelain, 29.5 x 33 x 26.5 cm overall
Ipswich Art Gallery Collection, 2005

Gwyn Hanssen Pigott, who had a studio based in Ipswich, was one of Australia’s most renowned ceramic artists. Her works are represented in the collections of galleries and museums worldwide and featured in countless exhibitions. Gwyn Hanssen Pigott also inspired a school of followers. Like many of her peers, Hanssen Pigott was attracted to Korean and Chinese ceramics. She traveled to Japan and also worked with the influential British potters Bernard Leach and Michael Cardew. A significant departure occurred in her work when she began exhibiting her porcelain vessels in tightly prescribed ‘still life’ arrangements. Painters have been depicting vessels in still life paintings for centuries and some sculptors explored the idea of 3-D still lifes in the 20th century, but for a potter it was a surprising development. It allowed her work to transcend the limits of function and enter into a dialogue with the history of art. The term ‘still life’ intimates a cessation of time and accordingly introduces a fourth dimension. This, combined with the set arrangements – forcing a consideration of the relationships between the objects in each group or ‘family’ as Hanssen Pigott termed it – opens the door to metaphysical readings of her work. Still life with 2 cups is an example of the style of work for which Hanssen Pigott has been acclaimed for. Simple, but in a refined modernist rather than rustic sense, the beautifully executed wood-fired vessels pay homage to the sensory domestic pleasures offered by the perfect teapot or cup. Gwyn Hanssen Pigott passed away in 2013.