To mark the 100th anniversary of the late Jorn Utzon’s birth – the architect behind what is arguably Australia’s most recognisable building – a range of handmade ceramics from local artisan Samantha Robinson has been commissioned by the Sydney Opera House.
The limited-edition collection, which starts at $35, includes plates, bowls and vases inspired by the Utzon tapestry, which hangs in the Opera House’s Utzon Room.
The room was the first space to be redesigned to Utzon’s specifications when he was recommissioned in 2000 to oversee a redevelopment of the building’s interior design, which had been hijacked by political wrangling, budget overhauls and compromises. The Reception Hall was re-named The Utzon Room in his honour, and it is where his Homage to Carl Philip Emmanuel Bach is hung. Completed in 2003, CPE Bach’s Hamburg Symphonies and Raphael’s painting Procession to Calvary was the motivation for the large-scale piece.
Now you can take home one of Robinson’s fine porcelain representations of the colourful result. Her whole collection is Australian-made and uses Australian materials; each piece represents a different part of the tapestry.
“The imagery is applied differently in each piece, and by putting it all together it becomes collectable. We were looking at the different crops of the artwork and working out how to arrange it. Obviously the tapestry is massive and very long, so we wanted to make it more abstract, and for every piece to have its own individual form,” she says.
Not only is each piece’s pattern different from the last, so is its shape. The collection’s distinctiveness is also apparent in the way Robinson makes the pieces.
“In the studio, we work with a lot of techniques,” she says. “When we work with the bowls, some have been carved off watermelons and some off bellies; some of the tableware is made off slabs and some has been thrown.”
And, just by chance, Robinson also created the collection alongside Utzon’s grandson, sculpturer Mika Utzon. “He’s been working in my studio and it was just such a coincidence. It was great to hear some of the stories about his grandfather as I was making pieces that were inspired by him.”
The Samantha Robinson ceramics collection is available from the Opera House online shop from today. Pieces start at $35.