Surfaced Stories

Surfaced Stories emerges from the SAM Collection through what began as a ‘conversation in clay’ surrounding approaches to ceramic making. The patterns, motifs, and designs—often marked in sgraffito or scratched surfaces—bring to the fore stories by seventeen Indigenous artists of different generations and across regions of Australia.

This exhibition offers a glimpse into SAM’s growing archive of diverse stories held within our collection. The artists draw from both individual and intergenerational pools of knowledge, whose depths span over more than sixty thousand years. Their approaches vary between hand and wheel-built forms; from carving with sgraffito and linear marks through glazes and underglazes, to reaching beyond ceramics with mark making on found materials.

Many of the artists represented in Surfaced Stories are nationally and internationally acclaimed, and have been past finalists of SAM’s prestigious biennial Indigenous Ceramic Award. Their work has been presented here to let the surfaces of the selected works draw us in, with the purpose of continuing these conversations in clay.

Image credits:

Alison Milyika Carroll, Ngayuku Walka, 2014. Shepparton Art Museum Collection, 2014 Indigenous Ceramic Art Award - 2nd Prize, 2014. © Alison Carroll / Copyright Agency, 2020

Wanapati Yunupiŋu, Gurtha, 2021. Shepparton Art Museum Collection, Melbourne Art Fair Indigenous Art Centre Program Commission - donated by Bennelong Funds Management, 2022. © the artist. Photo: Buku-Larrŋgay Mulka Centre

(l-r) Iwayi, 2019. Tapil, 2019. Iwayi, 2019. Iwayi, 2019.  Shepparton Art Museum Collection, donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program by Naomi Hobson in recognition of the outstanding contribution of Director Dr Rebecca Coates to the creation and opening of the new Shepparton Art Museum, 2022. © the artist. 

Curator: Belinda Briggs

Location: SAM Showcases, Level 2