Owen Rye

Artist Statement & CV

My making technique involves making a ‘family’ of similar forms, rather than making repetition work in a production sense. So very rarely are two pots alike, everything is a one-off. I am happy when each piece has a distinctly individual quality. Anyone who wants a set should go to Ikea.
I tend to use different clay mixes for different parts of the kiln. Some pots have a slip applied, some are glazed, and some are refired often with another coating applied. I consider carefully where each will be placed in the kiln. Normally everything is bisque fired, mainly so the setting will not shrink and change the flame flow too much.

An attitude has grown that woodfired ceramics are ‘brown’, but really a wide range of colour is available to those who seek it. Red, orange, pink, blue and green, along with many other shades and hues, all seem natural outcomes of wood firing to me.

My work is fired using wood fuel in an anagama style kiln, basically a tunnel about 5 metres long and a metre high. I take anything from two to three weeks to stack the kiln, very carefully considering how the flame and ash will impact each piece and how the packing will influence flame distribution and hence temperature and atmosphere. As the ash from the burning wood floats through the kiln it forms a glaze on the surface of the pots and eventually begins to run as it gets thicker. The aesthetic challenge is to blend the colour of clay and melted ash harmoniously, and to place a suitable form in the kiln at an angle that allows the runny ash to create a pleasing character.

Member, International Academy of Ceramics


Ph.D., University of N.S.W., 1970; B.Sc. (Hons 1) UNSW, 1965


Current Self employed (studio work, writing, workshops and residencies)
1985-03 Monash University, Gippsland: Senior Lecturer, Ceramics
1980-84 Canberra School of Art, Part-time Lecturer, Ceramics Workshop
1970-80 Archaeology Research (Smithsonian Institute USA and ANU Australia)


ClayModern Lifetime Achievement Award (Services to Education) 2004
Distinction Award, International Salt Glaze competition 2002, Koblenz, Germany
Society for American Archaeology Award 2000 (for contributions to ceramic studies)
Pioneer Potters’ Award 1997
Whitefriars Award 1995
Diamond Valley Award 1992
Gold Coast Award 1989;
Pottery in Australia Award 1985
Ampol Arts Award 1965

Exhibitions: Solo

2008 Residency Exhibit, Nora Eccles Harrison Museum, Utah State University, USA
2007 Woodfire Ceramics: The Aesthetics of Imperfection, Freeland Gallery, Sydney
2007 Owen Rye: 25 Years of Ceramics, A Survey, Latrobe Regional Gallery, Vic
2005 Art Centre Gallery, Astoria (Oregon) USA
2003 Ceramic Art Gallery, Sydney (Reconnaissance)
2002 Gallows Gallery, Perth
1997 Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, Utah State Univ., Utah USA (also 2008)
1997 Ceramic Art Gallery, Sydney
1995 Distelfink Gallery, Melbourne
1991 Artworks (Victoria). Collaboration with painter Rod Forbes
1991 Switchback Gallery, Monash University (collaboration with Rod Forbes)
1989 Latrobe Valley Arts Centre (Regional Gallery), Victoria
1979 Potter’s Place, Canberra, ACT
1978 Potter’s Place, Canberra, ACT

Exhibitions: Group, International

2009 Oz 5 x 5. Lacoste Gallery, Concord, Massachusets, USA
2007 Australian and New Zealand Ceramics, FLICAM, Fuping, China
2006 20+1 Years of the Tozan Kilns. NAU Art Museum, Flagstaff, Arizona, USA
2006 Prairie, Plains, Pacific Woodfire, Bainbridge Island Gallery, Washington, USA
2006 Three Australian Woodfirers, Randolph Arts Centre, Asheboro N. Carolina USA
2005 The Gulgong Connection, Alpha House Gallery, Dorset, England
2002 Salzbrand (International Saltglaze) Koblenz, Germany
1999 Different Stokes (International Woodfire), University of Iowa Museum of Art
1999 Pyrochromatics. Wellington B Gray Gallery, ECU, Greenville N.Carolina, USA
1999 Four Australian Woodfire Artists, New Wagner Gallery, SIUE, Illinois, USA
1999 Creative Australia (Craft Australia), Azecra Gallery, Osaka, Japan
1997 Salt-Glazed Porcelain, Rosenthal Studio-Haus Galerie, Hamburg, Germany
1996 Australia no Magikama Sakuhin, Aoyama Green Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
1996 Meitetsu Gallery, Nagoya, Japan
1996 Delinquent Angel (Australian Contemporary Ceramics): Itami Craft Centre, Osaka, Japan, and Takashimaya Gallery, Singapore
1996 Fletcher Challenge Award, Auckland, New Zealand (Selected)
1995 Delinquent Angel (Australian Contemporary Ceramics), Faenza, Italy
1994 Minokamo Municipal Centre, Gifu, Japan
1993 Salzbrand (International Saltglaze), Koblenz, Germany
1991 Faculty Exhibition, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Tennessee, USA
1989 Salzbrand (International Saltglaze), Koblenz, Germany

Exhibitions: Group, Australia (Selected)

2008 Magistery, Latrobe Regional Gallery, Morwell, Victoria
2008 Salute, Fusions Gallery, Brisbane
2008 Masters of Woodfiring. Sturt, Woodfire Conference, Mittagong, NSW
2008 Australian Woodfired Ceramics Survey, Freeland Gallery, Paddington, NSW
2006 Crust, Travelling from Gold Coast City Art Gallery, Noosa Regional Gallery
2006 Encrusted, Australian Woodfire Survey, Skepsi on Swanston, Melbourne, Vic
2006 Teabowls, Purple Space, Jam Factory, Adelaide, SA
2006 Earth Wind and Fire, Cudgegong Gallery, Gulgong, NSW
2005 Two Potters and a Painter, fg3 Gallery, Hobart, Tasmania
2005 Australian Woodfire Survey, Watson Art Centre, ACT
2004 Celebrating the Master, Skepsi on Swanston, Melbourne, Vic
2003 Rye Crop, Mura Gallery, Sydney, NSW
2002 Gold Coast Ceramic Award, Gold Coast City Art Gallery, Qld (Selected)
2001 Bowled Over (National Bowl Exhibition), Fremantle Arts Centre, WA
2000 Ceramics Purchase Exhibition, Museum and Art Gallery of N. Territory
1999 A Generous Vessel, Centre for Contemporary Craft, Customs House, Sydney
1998: The Woodfire Aesthetic, Distelfink Gallery, Melbourne
1997 Sydney Myer Fund International Ceramics Award, Shepparton Art Gallery
1996 Australian Woodfire Survey, Strathnairn Gallery, ACT
1996 National Bowl Show, Moore’s Building, Fremantle, WA
1996 Standing Sentinel (Potter’s Society of Australia), Manly Art Gallery, NSW
1996 Sydney Myer Fund Award, Invitational, Shepparton Art Gallery
1995 Woodfire Survey Exhibition, Fusions Gallery, Brisbane
1994 Rigg Craft Award (Invitational), National Gallery of Victoria


USA: Fullerton Art Museum, San Bernadino, California;
Arrowmont Permanent Collection, Tennessee;
Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art, Utah;
Art Center Gallery, Astoria, Oregon.
China: FLICAM Museums, Fuping;
R.of Korea: World Ceramic Exposition Foundation Museum, Icheon;
Japan: Tajimi City Collection, Mino;
Germany: Handwerkskammer Koblenz;

In Australia:
Australian National Gallery (ACT); Powerhouse Museum, NSW;
Art Gallery of Western Australia;
Queensland Art Gallery;
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery;
Gold Coast City Art Gallery; Shepparton Art Gallery;
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory;
Orange Regional Gallery;
Ipswich Regional Gallery; Latrobe Regional Gallery;
Victorian Ceramic Group; Diamond Valley Collection;
Griffith University Collection; Curtin University Collection;
Queensland University of Technology Collection;
Southern Cross University Collection;
Monash University (Jan Feder Collection);
Whitefriars College Collection; VCA (Lawrence Collection).
Private Collections in USA, Canada, Japan, Korea, England, Israel, Germany and in Australia including Greg Daly and Margaret Tuckson collections


Author of two books on archaeological ceramics and over 50 articles in ‘Ceramics Art and Perception’, ‘Pottery in Australia’ and numerous other journals; also numerous exhibition reviews, book reviews and conference papers. Editorial Advisor, Ceramics Art and Perception.

Curator / Selector

Australian Woodfire survey exhibitions 1986, 1996 and 2005.

Residencies, Workshops & Public Lectures

In Australia, USA, China, Korea, Papua New Guinea and Israel. Includes: Artist in residence, Utah State University (3 Months); residency, FLICAM studios, Fuping China; 3 day workshop/ lectures, North Carolina Potters Conference, Asheboro NC USA; Artist in Residence, University of Tasmania, Launceston; Anagama Firing, Astoria, Oregon USA (7 days); Little and Large Throwing workshop, Portland Oregon USA (2 days); Anagama Firing, Sturt Pottery NSW (7 days); Firing the Tamba Kiln (Cooroy, Qld (7 days); Woodfire, SIU, Illinois USA; Pyrochromatics, ECU, North Carolina USA (7 days); Aesthetics of Woodfire, USU, Logan, Utah, USA (7 days); Kiln Master, Fire-up Gulgong, (7 days); and Anagama Firing, Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, Tennessee, USA (14 days). Recently also Moderator/speaker, International Woodfire Conference, Aesthetics panel, Univ. N Arizona USA. Many conference papers in Australia especially at National and Woodfire Conferences.


Represented in Firing, Contemporary Ceramics Practice; Masters of Their Craft; Woodfired Ceramics; Contemporary Ceramic Art in Australia and New Zealand; Collector’s Guide to Modern Australian Ceramics; and Saltglaze Ceramics, An International Perspective. Recent biography and reviews in Journal of Australian Ceramics, Ceramics Monthly (USA), Ceramic Review (England) Ceramics Art and Perception, Object and Craft Victoria. Also exhibition catalogues including Delinquent Angel, Museo Internazionale delle Ceramiche, Faenza and Different Stokes (international woodfire survey exhibition), Iowa USA.