Good Weekend Art Column

Pippin Drysdale – Sabbia Gallery, Sydney

Published September 15, 2020
Pippin Drysdale, 'Group 1 - Yellow Flowering Cassia and Wattles', (2020)

Artist: Pippin Drysdale

Lives: Fremantle, W.A.

Age: 77

Represented by: Sabbia Gallery (Linton & Kaye, Perth; plus galleries in the UK, USA, Belgium, France, Germany & Switzerland)

Her thing: Ceramic vases and marbles, incorporating the colours of the Australian landscape.

Our take. Last year in New York City, Sotheby’s held an exhibition of works from Chatsworth, the private estate of the Duke & Duchess of Devonshire. Among the old masters and antique furniture, Pippin Drysdale’s brightly-coloured ceramics made a striking impression. Few Australian artists can ever have enjoyed a better international showcase.

For more than 45 years Drysdale has been working in clay, producing elegant bowls and small, sculptural ‘marbles’ that reflect the colours and textures of the Australian landscape. For the exhibition, Breakaway, at Sabbia Gallery, she has drawn on recent visits to the Karlu Karlu Conservation Reserve, near Katherine, and the Bungle Bungles in the Kimberley. As always with Drysdale, the colours of these works are breathtaking – ranging from vivid reds and blues to the most subtle gradations of tone.

She has taken her inspiration not simply from the land but from the colours of the sky and the changing patterns of light and weather. Her works do not simply reflect her observations of an environment, they convey a powerful sense of what it feels like to inhabit a country of great antiquity and bright, all-encompassing light. Few Australian landscape painters have been able to capture the spirit of a place on canvas more convincingly than Drysdale’s achievements in porcelain.


Can I afford it?

Drysdale is Australia’s most internationally successful ceramicist, and this is reflected in her prices. She has sold a suite of seven works for US$83,000, and another seven for £45,000. In this exhibition the highest priced items are vases such as Breakaway Series – Palm Valley, NT (41cm by 24cm); for $16,000, and an ensemble of seven pieces called Grouping 2. Splendour at Black Rock (tallest, 29.5cm) for $37,500. The cheapest is a small marble with a similar title: Breakaway Series – Splendour at Black Rock (666) (6cm by 7cm) for $2,200.


 Where can I have a squiz?

Sabbia Gallery, 609 Elizabeth Street, Redfern, Sydney.

Until 25 July – 22 August, 2020.



Published in The Good Weekend, Sydney Morning Herald, 8 February, 2020