Pippin Drysdale is an award-winning ceramic artist based in Perth who is renowned internationally for her large, intricate works inspired by the patterns and colours of landscapes around the world.
Pippin was born in Melbourne in 1943 and grew up in Perth from the age of three. Born into a wealthy family, she was a rebellious child and flitted from school to school, finding it difficult to settle down or embrace traditional education. Art was the only subject that allowed Pippin to express herself and she took private classes in painting and drawing as a child. After leaving school, Pippin worked as a typist, spent time as a secretary in Canberra, worked odd jobs in England for a year and travelled through Europe. Her life was filled with “magnificent” adventures and parties.
She returned to Australia in the early 1960s and moved to Melbourne where she married and had a son. It was in Melbourne that Pippin first sold her art, creating Mexican paper flowers and selling them through local stores under the moniker Pip’s Flowers. She moved back to Perth in the early 1970s, settling into a cottage in Fremantle that she still lives and works in today. On her return, she became interested in herbs and natural remedies, and by 1973 had built one of the biggest herb gardens in the southern hemisphere. She harvested and sold the herbs to outlets around Perth for a number of years.
It was through a relationship with a potter who made ceramic structures for Pippin’s herbs that she found clay.He built a kiln in her backyard and Pippin began to experiment with clay, creating small bowls and goblets. After their relationship broke down, Pippin became serious about clay and enrolled in an Advanced Diploma in Ceramics at Perth Technical College. She spent three years under the tough but impressive direction of teacher David Hunt.
Following the course, Pippin undertook a Bachelor of Fine Arts at Curtin University of Technology in 1986. It was during that period that Pippin discovered her love of creating large, open, “womb-like” porcelain vessels and began experimenting with the style that she is now renowned for today. Upon finishing her degree Pippin travelled to America and spent time at the famous Anderson Ranch Art Center in Colorado, developing her craft alongside revered international artists. After returning to Australia, Pippin threw herself into work and her pieces were soon regularly exhibited around Australia, Europe and collected by major galleries around the world.
She discovered a need to work thematically and many of Pippin’s series are influenced by a journey. She draws inspiration from the colours and textures of landscape, and her emotional interpretations of place and space are injected into each of her pieces. Pippin focuses in particular on the vast, diverse Australian landscape and has created series based around the patterns and colours of the Pilbara region, the eastern Goldfields, the Kimberley, and the Tanami Desert. She has also travelled overseas to draw inspiration from the dips and peaks of Pakistan, India, Russia and Italy.
To date, Pippin’s work has been exhibited in over 450 solo and group exhibitions. She is incredibly committed to her work and is constantly pushing herself to a higher standard, her perfectionism reflected in her ambitious works. In 2007, a major survey exhibition of Pippin’s works was held at John Curtin Gallery, a testament to an impressive two decades. It was at that point that she began to develop closed form pieces that she refers to as the “male” pieces to accompany her open, “female” works.
In 2008, Pippin was named a Master of Australian Craft by the Australia Council for the Arts. The following year, she undertook a residency at the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. In 2010, her Tanami Mapping I exhibition was opened by Ambassador to the USA, Kim Beazley at the Embassy of Australia in Washington DC. In 2011, Pippin received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Artsource.
Pippin is grateful to still “wake up every day with a challenge” and believes that she found her identity through her work with clay. She is currently working on a new collection called The Pilbara Series, which will be exhibited around the country in late 2015.
Pippin lives in Fremantle and is constantly searching for her next gem.