Fringe Talk Day Ten

Stencil Art Prize + The Sydney Teapot Show - Sunday 10th September  

For this column, I had chosen to cover the Stencil Art Prize and the Sydney Teapot Show because I wanted to experience something like a feeling of discovery, something unexpected.

As I sat in the daylight outside the Stirrup Gallery, drinking coffee, I thought about my ideal encounter with art—what was I looking for?


The Stencil Art Prize.

The artworks on display, made by artists from around the world, shared a common feeling of urban experience—life and thought in the city—and a common medium to work in: aerosol.  There also seemed to be a related set of thematic interests – politics, consumer culture, and playfulness.

On the theme of politics and consumer culture, some artworks seemed more overt in their commentary—luxury bags among general waste (“4’ of trash”, Dotmasters) or a monochrome Death Star dressed in corporate logos (“I have a very bad feeling about this”, CRISP). “We Can Work It Out” by PAWA, was partly a homage to The Beatles’s “With The Beatles” album cover, black and white monochrome, but replacing the faces with Trump, Putin, Assad and Kim Jongi-un: “with the despicables”. The world has despicablemania, or something.


Animals also featured—striking, flat, idealised—elephants, birds, polar bears, zebras, monkeys. In “Young Bear #12” by sputNik a polar bear rides a skateboard contrasted against a sky blue background.


The Sydney Teapot Show.

What do you look for in a teapot?

This competition has been running for 25 years with entrants from around the world. This is its first year at the Kerrie Lowe Gallery.

What do you look for in a teapot? The perfect pour? There is something fun about the variety of designs on display. Fun and whimsical. Functional and fun.

The pots in this show, nearly 300, were so various in design, I was surprised that an object, so everyday, could be re-imagined so many times with so many decorative, abstract or witty variations.

On the fun side of the scale, there were baby dragons and swans, sea sponges and a swing fixed atop a banana.

Sometimes it takes an absurd imagining to fully appreciate the function of an object: one teapot had its body full of holes so it couldn’t hold any water and also two phallic spouts; this piece had apparently inspired responses from women saying - ‘totally phallic, totally useless’.

I learned was that every teapot on display was the reward of a risk  taken, because a beautiful design might crack and fall apart in the kiln, because what was conceived might not turn out as planned, and you gotta ‘hope for the best’ as they say.

It seemed instinctual to want to pick up a teapot. I’m glad I did because I also appreciated the glazing that goes into (or onto) the pot. They’re nice to see, nice to touch, nice to take home, and depending on your taste there were smooth glazes, or rougher surfaces.

[Next up, Max finds himself at the theatre with Crackers]

Written by Sime Knezevic