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Elise Bishop

Form of Function: an Artist’s Statement

My work revolves around robust, sculptural, functional vessels.  I use various stoneware clay bodies, including found clays, and I decorate with raw mineral materials.  I like to contrast bare clay surfaces, finished in different ways, with deep, watery, celadon-type glazes.  From my perspective as the maker, the finished pieces are about three things: Time, Place, and Material.

I love clay.  I love where it comes from, I love the tactile processes involved in changing it from the material beneath our feet into a permanent work of art and/or functionality.  I love that these processes need not consume resources unsustainably.  I love that clay bodies can vary almost infinitely.  I love that a material can link me so effectively to place and time, just by its very nature.  Some of the earliest objects known to be made are objects of clay, and a significant number of those still exist thousands of years later.  In the history of ceramics we can see the development of technology and the rise and fall of societies.  The making of pots shifts in its meaning across countries and across centuries. 
Studio ceramics, within the context of modern industrial capitalism, has meaning such as it has never had before.  I believe in its importance.

For me, living is largely about place, and place is about the natural environment.  I have lived my whole life backwards and forwards between Australia and New Zealand.  I have experienced the beauty of both and the distinctness of each.  Subjectively, New Zealand is about water, small things, and ancient-seeming landscapes; Australia is about earth, monumental scale, and truly ancient landscapes.  I like to think that my work reflects some of the essence of each.


In a society where mass production dictates most numbers in least time, to hand-make something, particularly something that has been appropriated by industrial capitalism (for example, functional ceramics), is, for me, a way of re-appropriating time.  Making an individual object, taking care that there is a close relationship between every aspect of form and finish, a relationship that will be unique in each piece, because each piece is unique, and spending a significant amount of time in each phase of the hand-making process, with consideration for the longevity of the piece both aesthetically and functionally, rejects a mode of production where the disposal of cheap mass-produced functional objects ultimately wastes time (and resources).


Born in 1971 in New Zealand.  Crossed the Tasman, back and forth, for a childhood filled with mud-pie making.  Developed mind and body with a degree in literature and an apprenticeship in sound engineering.  Played music with musicians, children, folks with disability, and naughty teens until the well ran dry.  Took up playing with clay on a full-time basis – never looked back, never will.

& Awards
B.A. (Hons 1st Class)   Massey University, NZ 1990-94
  Cert IV Audio Technical Production  Ausmusic  2002
  Diploma Visual Arts (Ceramics) University of Ballarat  Under the tutelage of Neville French and Mary Rasmussen     2005-07
  RJ Young Scholarship      University of Ballarat 2006
  Ceramics Victoria Student’s Award  Ceramics Victoria   2007


Australia-Korea Foundation Travel Grant                                          DFAT   2009


“Enshrining Food”, Claylink, July 2008, Ceramics Victoria.

“The Political Process of Potting”, The Journal of Australian Ceramics, vol.46, no.1, April 2007.

“Making Noise”, The New Zealand Journal of Media Studies,  vol.7, no.1, Massey University Press, 2000.


1st International Chasabal Ceramic Competition, Mungyeong Traditional Tea Bowl Festival 2011, Mungyeong, South Korea

The 48 Hour Clay Project, 4 person exhibition at Pan Gallery, East Brunswick, Victoria, 4 February, 2010 – 4 March, 2010
Warrendyte Pottery Expo '10

Juried International Artists’ Exhibition, Gangjin Celadon Festival, South Korea 
Craft Victoria's Craft Hatch
Warrendyte Pottery Expo '09

Assistant to Vipoo Srivilasa, Clay Edge, Gulgong, NSW
Ceramic pieces featured in group exhibitions associated with University of Ballarat’s Arts Academy
Ceramic Victoria's Envisage Exhibition

Over 100 performances of live experimental sound art.  Collaborations with other musicians, presented across a range of performance spaces in Australia and New Zealand.  Releases of CDs and records, with support from international and local record labels, and Arts Victoria.


The artist’s work is represented in private collections in Australia & New Zealand, and in public collections in South Korea.

Contact Details

Postal Address
111 Hector Sanderson Rd
Aotea 0991
New Zealand
Current Mark Photo