Vale: Milton Moon

 

Renowned Australian potter and educator Milton Moon AM (1926-2019) passed away in September. Born in Melbourne, Moon was introduced to clay in Brisbane through his friends Mervyn Feeney and Harry Memmott at the Sandison’s Pottery in Annerley, and began his 60-year career as a professional ceramicist.

Milton Moon, Australia 1926-2019 / Fairweather pot 1966 / Stoneware, thrown flaring cylindrical shape with calligraphic brush decoration over brushed ash glaze / 40 x 27.3cm (diam) / Gift of Patrick and Pam Wilson 1987 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane / © Estate of the artist

In 1959, he held his first solo exhibition of ceramic works at Brisbane’s Johnstone Gallery. At a time when pottery was a craft dominated by functionalism, Moon was one of Australia’s most innovative and expressive practitioners. The influential art critic Robert Hughes commented in 1962:

Moon’s work stands rather apart from prevalent trends in Australian ceramics … Moon uses his materials aggressively. The surfaces of his jugs and bowls are battered, burnt and rough. His favourite material is stoneware, on which clumps of grit, iron oxide and quite decently sized gravel stand out in violently harsh textures.

The glazes and clay forms of many of Moon’s pieces reflect the natural world, evoking rock-grown algae or fire-scorched wood and earth.

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Milton Moon / Platter: Kimono and flower pattern 1980 / Stoneware, thrown with mepthalene syenite glaze and oxide floral decoration. Fired in a gas kiln to cone 8. / 5.6cm x 56cm (diam) / Purchased 1980 with the assistance of the Crafts Board of the Australia Council / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane / © Estate of the artist

Moon was appointed Senior Instructor of Ceramics at Brisbane’s Central Technical College in 1961, a position he held for eight years, during which time he represented Australia at the first World Craft Congress in Switzerland in 1966. He left Brisbane in 1969 and became Senior Lecturer and Head of Ceramics at the South Australian School of Art until 1975, before establishing home studios in and around Adelaide, where he continued to practise.

Milton Moon was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 1984, in recognition of his dedication to art and teaching. In 2006, he was conferred an honorary doctorate (DUniv) from the University of South Australia. He is represented in all state and national gallery collections, including the QAGOMA Collection.

Milton Moon AM in his workshop at Summertown, 1990 / Photograph courtesy http://miltonmoon.com

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Feature image detail: Milton Moon Platter: Kimono and flower pattern 1980

Fairweather pot 1966 is currently on view at the Queensland Art Gallery. The encrusted surfaces of Moon’s pieces reflect the natural world, evoking rock-grown algae or fire-scorched wood and earth. Ian Fairweather shared similar concerns and Fairweather pot is Moon’s homage to the famous painter.

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