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.



Interview Holly MacDonald

Words By: Belle Beasley
Interview Holly MacDonald

Having recently moved to Newcastle from Melbourne, National Art School trained ceramic artist Holly McDonald is relishing the change of scene.

“I visited last year when the NAG Domestic Bliss exhibition was on, and immediately thought ‘ooh, this is a good sign.’ It’s a really nice collection, and it spans a long time.

McDonald, like many contemporary ceramicists, is aware of the push and pull between ceramics as art, and commercial wares. As such, she divides her creative output, exhibiting her conceptual work under her own name, and selling her functional work under ‘Fictional Ceramics’.

“There’s this age-old ‘art-craft’ debate... I like both. Both are important to keep my work questioning itself. Commercial work really pushes and refines my technique. But it’s really nice to have the release of other things. More conceptual, undefined, amorphous work.”

Acknowledging the inevitable heartbreaks of the medium, the artist is intent on developing new approaches to her ceramic practice.

“It can be scary, starting something and knowing that it might break, or not work the first time. And porcelain is so savage, it really has opinions about what you do to it. You have to cajole it, be sensitive and go slowly if you want it to collaborate with you and your ideas. But it’s obviously an enjoyable process, because I keep going back for more!”