Dobell Exhibition Grant recipient announced for 2019

  • BYRNE Penny, #EuropaEuropa 2017


    SODEISHA: Connected to Australia

    BYRNE Penny, #EuropaEuropa 2017, dimensions variable, blue and white porcelain figurines, cups, plates, bowls, gravy boats, epoxy resin and enamel paint, Artist collection,

  • URANISHI Kenji, Pleated bowl 2009


    SODEISHA: Connected to Australia

    URANISHI Kenji, Pleated bowl 2009, 12.2 × 20.0cm porcelain with inlaid slip and celadon glaze, Newcastle Art Gallery collection

This year’s round of applications for the Dobell Exhibition Grant have recently been assessed and we are very pleased to announce Newcastle Art Gallery  as the recipient of the $40,000 grant for their exhibition SODEISHA: Connected to Australia.

In September 1979 Newcastle Art Gallery hosted an exhibition SODEISHA: Avant-Garde Japanese Ceramics featuring 32 members of the Sodeisha group of artists including founding members Kazuo Yagi (1918-1979), Osamu Suzuki (1926-2001) and Hikaru Yamada (1924-2001). The popular exhibition toured to six other capital city galleries until May 1981. At the conclusion of the tour, the Sodeisha group elected to gift 58 of the 62 works to Newcastle Art Gallery. Consequently, the Gallery now holds one of the largest collections of Sodeisha ceramics by this important group of artists outside of Japan.

SODEISHA: Connected to Australia will bring this collection to public attention once again - the Gallery has invited ten contemporary Australian and Japanese ceramic artists to exhibit their work in response to the collection, including originating member of the Sodeisha movement Satoru Hoshino who will deliver workshops and a major installation for the exhibition.

Australian artists will include Alterfact Studio, Penny Byrne, Juz Kitson, Julie Bartholomew, Kenji Uranishi & Kristina Chan. From Japan artists include Takashi Hinoda, Satoru Hoshino, Yusaku Ishida, Rokube Kiyimizu, Hideo Matsumoto.

Whilst the influence of the Japanese on the development of Australian ceramics is well documented, there has not been a major exhibition in Australia that explores the legacy and influences of the pioneering Sodeisha group on the following generations of Japanese contemporary ceramic artists. This project is an opportunity to assess those developments alongside contemporary works from Australian ceramic artists. The exhibition will feature works of art by the founding members of the Sodeisha group providing the touchstone for the project. The exhibition aims to re-contextualise this significant collection through the inclusion of living contemporary ceramic practitioners from Australia and Japan who will feature alongside the collection to form a dialogue between this important post war avant-garde movement and contemporary ceramic arts practice today.

Sodeisha literally translates from Japanese to English as ‘Crawling through mud’ and Newcastle Art Gallery will also commission a performance by Newcastle-based dance company Catapult inspired by the 1955 performance Challenging Mud by Kazuo Shiraga (1924-2008). Shiraga was a member of the Kyoto based Gutai Artists Association who challenged ideas about the relationship between elemental materials and the human body. Kazuo's seminal and physically demanding 1955 performance has long been recognised as having a close association with the Sodeisha movement.

In addition to this performance a comprehensive suite of public programs including masterclasses, artist-led workshops and forums and regional clay community activities will support the exhibition and draw in new audiences for this ancient and contemporary art form.

The Dobell Exhibition Grant, supported by the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation, offers $40,000 in funding to one regional NSW gallery per annum. The program aims to support high-quality exhibitions that speak to a broad audience across NSW. To assist in expanding appreciation for the visual arts, these exhibitions should be supported by innovative public and education programs that creatively engage both artists and the community.


HOSHINO Satoru, God and his medium

HOSHINO Satoru, God and his medium n.d, 56 × 23 × 28cm, hand-built form, glazed white clay, Newcastle Art Gallery collection.


The Foundation was formed in 1971 from the artist’s bequest with instructions that “a Foundation be established for the benefit and promotion of art in NSW."

Since then, the Foundation has sponsored a wide variety of projects and is best known for the Dobell Drawing Prize, which ran for 20 years at the Art Gallery of NSW and evolved into the new Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial in 2014, and the recently launched new Dobell Drawing Prize which will run in alternative years to the Dobell Australian Drawing Biennial. The inaugural exhibition at the National Art School of The Dobell Drawing Prize will take place from 28 March to 25 May 2019.

The Foundation supports acquisitions to public collections, as well as publications, films and educational programs, including the annual Dobell School of Drawing at the National Art School, Sydney, for 75 Year 11 students from regional NSW.

The Dobell Exhibition Grant is supported by the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation and managed by Museums & Galleries of NSW.

Sir William Dobell Art Foundation

In this article

Newcastle Art Gallery

Hunter Region

Museums & Galleries of NSW helps small-medium museums, galleries and Aboriginal cultural centres create exciting experiences for visitors and, through this, thriving local NSW communities. We don't run museums, galleries and cultural centres but we care about those who do. We develop their skills, connect them with others in the industry, provide funding, point visitors their way, and give them access to ground-breaking exhibitions.

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