The Newcastle Art Gallery Youth Advisory Group acknowledges the Awabakal and Worimi people as the traditional custodians of the land on which we work and live, and pay our deepest respects to Elders past, present and future. The Youth Advisory Group is dedicated to honouring the culture and traditions of our local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities through the visual arts.
When I first came across Grace McMahon's ceramics at Newcastle’s ‘Laate Supply’ store, their bulbous sensuality stood out against the backdrop of skater tees and edgy paraphernalia. Her mugs, with their giant looping handles almost melting off the vessel, evoke an archetypal Novocastrian nonchalance. But much work goes into achieving the effortless edge.
“Coming to terms with failures is one of the hardest aspects of my work. There are so many variables in ceramics.”
It is this slow and often gruelling process of creation that drew Grace to ceramics. The art form presented a way to escape anxiety. After an initial struggle to locate an affordable community space where she could learn and experiment, Grace began taking weekly classes and eventually established her creations as Gem Ceramics.
“Much of my inspiration comes from my environment and the world around me. I love the whitewash and blues of the coastline, and the rugged earthy colours of the bush.”
The tendency towards the natural-world is something that shapes much of McMahon’s creative ethos.
“My hand-built pieces take a long time to build and have to dry very specifically to ensure they don’t crack. They require a lot of work in order to achieve their organic form. Ultimately, galleries and stores that appreciate slow-making processes really appeal to me. I build such a relationship with my pieces that it’s hard when the time and effort I have put into them goes overlooked.
Now selling via her website, McMahon also makes ceramic practice more accessible across the community by offering at-home clay packs for beginners.