I first met Pippin Drysdale (Pip) in 1989. I was working with Joan Campbell at Bather’s Beach and Pip came down to the studio with Seattle based ceramic artist, Patti Warashina. Patti was exhibiting in Perth as part of the Perth International Crafts Triennial at the Western Australian Art Gallery and was staying with Pip during her time in Western Australia.

Pip came down to Bather’s Beach to introduce Patti to Joan while I was working in the studio making some large thrown pieces. Pip and Patti were both impressed by the work Joan and I were creating in the Bather’s Beach Studio, but it was another couple of years before I ended up working with Pip in her Tuckfield Street, Fremantle Studio.

In the interim between leaving Joan’s Bather’s Beach studio and working with Pip I spent l8 months travelling around the Southern states of Australia searching for surf. This sojourn was largely funded by the money I made working as a thrower in South Australia and as there was very little left in the kitty when I returned to Perth in March 1992, I needed to find work quickly. Fortunately, I found work with Pip in her Fremantle studio assisting her with an exhibition she was working on to be held at Perth Galleries in West Perth. The work was a series of bowls in a range of sizes that Pippin used coloured glazes on with a metallic lustre over the glazed surfaces. The work was very finely thrown and I focussed on pure, simple forms that, at the time, were trimmed and finished by Pip after I had thrown them.

I remember looking at the way in which Pip trimmed and finished the work and thought that some of the forms were not turned in the way that I had intended. I convinced Pip to let me show her how I would finish the bowls to follow the lines I had imagined when throwing the forms. This suggestion proved to be successful and became the method we employed from that time on to create the forms that we are still making as I write this in 2024.

Over the last 32 years working and collaborating with Pip, the work has developed from single bowl forms to multiple bowl forms in large groupings (still life’s) and the creation of closed forms, initially inspired by the Bungle Bungles in the Purnululu National Park in the Kimberley region of Western Australia, and the asymmetrical closed forms inspired by the Karlu Karlu/Devils Marbles in the Northern Territory. These closed forms have also been grouped in multiples to create landscapes that have allowed the work to evolve in a sculptural direction and move away from any function associated with the bowl forms.

These ceramic forms have been exhibited in galleries all over Australia including Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane as well as internationally in The United Kingdom, Europe, Asia, and the United States of America. The work is in many public and private collections within Australia and in countries around the world. It has also been featured on the covers of international art and ceramic journals that include relevant articles written by highly regarded academics and art critics. I have been able to travel with Pip to some of her most successful exhibitions within Australia as well as exhibit with her in 2018 (Confluence, John Curtin Gallery, Perth) and in 2023 alongside Pip and Australian Honours recipient Jeffery Mincham AM (Much in Common, Nothing Alike, Linton and Kay Gallery, Perth).

It has been a very successful partnership, and it still amazes me how far and wide the work that we have created has travelled and the prices that it commands in the most prestigious galleries around the world. As I write, we are beginning to develop some new forms for a major exhibition to be held in 2025 at the Art Gallery of Western Australia. The exhibition will showcase this new work alongside a retrospective of the work created over the last 32 years and it will be documented and catalogued in a book published by the Art Gallery of Western Australia.

I believe the success of this long-term friendship and collaboration can be attributed to the mutual respect that Pip and I have for each other’s talents and a shared passion for working with clay that drives us to search for ways to create new forms and surfaces that are inspired by the Australian landscape.