Art & Design


Ted Secombe 2012

Posted by Lou Pardi


A well-regarded ceramic artist, Ted Secombe’s work appears in homes, hotels and shopping centres across the world. We headed down to his beautiful home and studio in the Yarra Valley to take a look at his new exhibition – using a completely different medium.

The house is scattered with exquisite works – Ted’s ceramics, and beautiful large steel and bronze birds, one with a row of cows sitting on its back. It’s named ‘How does it feel’ referring to the role reversal of the animals. Ted is serious about great art, but not pompous, and keeps his sense of humour at hand.

“They have been used as missiles,” says Secombe of his ceramic pieces, referring to an incident at Crown Towers where a couple’s argument over whether a winning party should return to the tables ended in pots from the corridor display being hurled. “There was a lot of blood around too, so it can be an effective weapon. In a place like Chadstone where they’re much bigger and heavy works, people still run into them with a shopping trolley.”

Ted’s new works – beautiful large sculptured steel pieces – are somewhat more resilient. After earning an enviable reputation internationally as a ceramic artist, Ted developed RSI and sought out a new way to work. He had a niggling feeling he’d run out of things to say with ceramics, although he now realises that’s not the case.

“I’m very excited, it’s a totally new adventure as well, that’s the thing that is so interesting about it. After close to thirty years with a ceramic practice I started to feel like I didn’t have a great deal more to say, which was erroneous thinking, I do have more to say because some of the work that’s come about from this exhibition is quite different from anything before.”

It wasn’t easy changing mediums though. “I found I was a little bit intimidated by sculpture, thinking whether I had the ability to actually move that way and then I started molding with clay, something that I know so intimately, when it’s been moving through your hands for thirty years you develop a very close relationship, and you understand its idiosyncrasies very very well. With clay you can pull and shape it quickly and put the movement of the bird with its neck or head, it’s just a matter of twisting and there it is, it takes on the beautiful natural movement of when they move their heads, it’s a beautiful tactile medium, it manifests very easily, it’s great.”

From beginnings as a small ceramic pieces, a lengthy process of molds, casting and colouring sees Ted’s creations crafted in a specialised facility in China into beautiful large steel sculptures.

“Just beautiful things to look at,” says Ted, describing the exhibition. “You see so much in the art world that borders on obscenity and I don’t see the point in it. I know it’s part of our existence but it doesn’t need to be shoved in your face, because a lot of it is the unsavoury part of existence and we can do without it. I think the world can do with something that uplifts the spirit, not damages too much.”

Ted Secombe 2012 is showing at 240 Bleases Lane, Dixons Creek Victoria on Sat 15 and Sun 16 September.
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