Stephen Bird: Kiln Gods
A catalogue to accompany Kiln Gods - Stephen Bird’s fourth solo exhibition with The Scottish Gallery; a relationship which is now into its third decade. Each exhibition has introduced new narratives and his work has never been for the faint hearted; there is disquiet and beauty in equal measure. Bird might depict a seemingly pleasant pastoral aspect of Australia, executed in ‘Spode style’ but containing an element of the macabre - sometimes brutal or grotesque in detail, our expectations subverted by those of a traditionally genteel medium. This is how Bird works; his extraordinary, original vision is expressed with an iconography which is both personal and universal and in a medium which is at once enhanced and subverted. The comfort and continuity we derive from the use of traditional media, be it Oriental or European, of the beautiful marks, shapes and palette Bird deploys, is subverted by his choice of narrative, albeit leavened by humour. There is of course a second tension between his chosen medium, so deeply associated with craft and utility, and the conceptual territory he occupies with his subject.
Many of the works in Kiln Gods were made during his residency at the Taoxichuan International Studio in Jingdezhen, China in 2017 and further works influenced by this experience and his more recent HUA HIN International Contemporary Art Residency, Thailand 2018. Included in the exhibition are several works which were presented when Stephen was an invited guest at the 9th Gyeonggi International Ceramic Biennale, Icheon, Cerapia, South Korea in 2017. Stephen has recently been nominated for the prestigious Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award 2019.