Kirsten Coelho works in porcelain, creating refined works characterised by their restrained forms and rich visual surfaces. Coelho’s practice references and reinterprets utilitarian enamelware of the nineteenth and early
twentieth century. Her works are often painted with an iron oxide rim, a process that deftly mimics the rust that forms on enamelware as it ages. Reinterpreting everyday metal objects in porcelain conjures a sense of the unexpected, creating an exciting juxtaposition between the precious and the commonplace.
The reference to archetypal household items also reflects on the experiences of the many migrants and settlers to Australia at that time. The extraordinary dreams, ambitions and failings of this period are contained in Coelho’s works, which consider how objects and art shape history and cultural memory. Influences as diverse as the metal rimmed Ding pots of the Chinese Song dynasty, English studio ceramics and Australian enamel wares inform her work.
‘I am interested in the context and the way objects are perceived – the way in which objects can be redefined and understood through their cultural and historical associations and also how they take on new meanings when taken out of context. The interplay of tone, form and surface – all converging to give new possible readings of what at first appears familiar.’ (Kirsten Coelho)
Central to Coelho’s work is a concern with the physical materiality of the clay and the abstractions that arise on the surface of objects through their use and deterioration. The intersection of form, colour, tone and light are constant drivers in her practice, invoking the language and history of painting.