Born and raised in Goulburn NSW, Australia. Shaun Hayes moved to Canberra to study Ceramics at the ANU School of Art. Shaun inherited his love for ceramics was from his Grandmother, who worked at the Royal Doulton factory in Stoke-on-Trent, England. Through his ceramics, Shaun explores today's contemporary, throwaway society. We loved talking to Shaun to find out more about his work. Read on to read the interview.
How did you start working with ceramics?
My Grandmother introduced me to ceramics from an early age, mostly through decorating bisque ware pieces pre-made in a factory. Her fascination and appreciation of the craft must have rubbed off on me somewhere during my childhood as I then took to making my own ceramic work from Highschool, culminating in my first body of work using ceramics in my final year of high school in 2008. I then studied ceramics at the ANU School of Art, which exposed me to a range of extremely talented ceramic artists and teachers. Theses years of studies allowed me to explore many techniques of constructing clay objects, glaze formulation and variety of firing techniques and effects.
Your pieces are often adorned with everyday objects referencing popular culture, cast as ceramics, such as toothbrushes, dolls heads, calculators and scissors - but the shape of your vessels are very traditional - it's playful and ironic. What themes and ideas are you exploring?
Through my work, I am trying to achieve a juxtaposition between the timelessness of “traditional” ceramic forms and the fleetingness of today's contemporary throwaway society. The collection of plastic objects is evocative of certain memories and feelings, capturing these ephemeral moments in time. My work has a dark, humorous side contemplating the nature of today's society through the use of seemingly unimportant, everyday objects, highlighting the importance of the objects and the enduring impact that they, and therefore we, have on the environment. My vessels echo a blending of past and present, old and new as well as illustrating the material similarities between ceramics and plastic.
How do you develop your ideas and what’s your process of working?
My ideas come from the everyday objects around me, either my own objects or found objects via op shops, secondhand, garage sales etc. The ceramic forms or base forms are taken from historical ceramic shapes that appeal to my aesthetic. During a trip to China in 2011 I fell in love with vessels from ancient Chinese ceramics. The fact that people are to this day, mass producing replicas of the same shapes originally made hundreds and sometimes thousands of years ago speaks volumes of the timelessness of those ceramic shapes. I tend to have multiple layers of thought, the base form or vessel and the objects that adorn it, and then how aesthetically they will work together.
Where do you work from? How do you like to work?
My studio is located at Strathnairn Homestead and Gallery in Holt on the outskirts of Canberra, I tend to work alone for the most part. Timing is critical in the construction of my pieces and I find if I get distracted it can ruin a work by letting certain elements dry out to quickly, so I go into the studio with a plan for when to cast objects and when to join I try to not deviate from the plan when working.