After the success of the 1999 Ceramic Conference the organising committee, the Clay & Glass Association of Western Australia now known as the Ceramic Arts Association of Western Australia (CAAWA), organised a national and international ceramic exhibition that focussed on the practice of making ceramic tableware. The exhibition was held at the TAFE Gallery in Northbridge, Perth, Western Australia.

I was asked to participate in the exhibition and I created a series of slip cast and hand-built porcelain plates that incorporated surface images created using a screen-printing technique. This was quite a departure from any of the work that I had ever created before. I had to explore a completely different way of working with clay through using porcelain slip and photographic silk screen prints that were inlayed into the surface of the porcelain.

I chose to make work that commented on the corporate funding the body that oversaw craft in Western Australia, Craft West, received from the multinational company Wesfarmers who, at the time, was clear felling the Western Australian Jarrah forest for wood chipping and sending the woodchips offshore to be processed into paper products. I used the format of the Craft West logo, which was at the time a grid of 3 x 3 harmonious coloured squares, to form a larger square shape. The plates I made were square and also set out in a 3 x 3 grid format. I created imagery depicting the destruction of the local Jarrah forest as well as text that outlined some of Wesfarmers’ involvement in other activities that were destroying the environment. Each of the nine plates in the grid depicted a different image or text that outlined the track record of Wesfarmers destruction of the Western Australian environment. The title of my work was a play on the Craft West name and aptly titled – Shaft West.

The work, while making comment on Craft West’s decision to accept sponsorship money from a company that was environmentally destructive in its operational activities, used the functional form and aesthetic of the square dinner plate as a vehicle for social and political comment.

I still believe that this was some of the most powerful work that I have made to date, and the most technical to master.