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Rowley Drysdale is renowned for his unique glazes and wood fired work, as well as his series of large wheel thrown orbs.  His dedicated study of glazes and firing techniques are evident in the surface qualities of his work, resulting in unstructured and dramatic exteriors. Rowley is a champion of the wood firing process and is passionate about sharing his extensive knowledge. Every outcome celebrates the “survival” of an intense firing over several days, in temperatures nearing those of volcanic lava.

Concurrent with his ceramic output, Rowley works on 2D pieces, exploring non traditional surface making techniques, such as the use of raw earth, pigments, found objects and scorched canvas in multi layered sequences.


A selection of Rowley's work is shown below, with some of his thoughts about each piece.


See the 'Exhibitions' page for upcoming opportunities to view Rowley's work or contact him directly to make enquiries about current work.

7 oceania large vase - iron blue glazes, side fired on sea shells, 2015 - h 36 x w 35 cm .

Oceania Blossom Jar 2015

This piece is one of the first of a long series of wood fired forms utilising Chun (or Jun) glazes. The glaze is very fluid for anything up to a day in the kiln and consequently creates dynamic movement. I always feel that the best examples suggest oceans and reefs, perhaps vast galaxies. The pot is placed on its side for firing and sea shells are used to save the piece from fusing to kiln shelves. These leave lovely indents, often resulting in distinctive surface marks.

Wood fired Stoneware. Iron Blue glazes, side fired on sea shells.
Private Collection - Republic of South Korea.

H 36 x W 35 cm

rowley drysdale

Inward Orb 2012

I like making spherical and ovoid forms. They present a dynamic "canvas" for glaze. The glaze on this particular form utilises Albany slip, a rare mineral which is no longer mined, and has a high percentage of metal oxides. I experimented for more than two decades with it, particularly with the temperature and the length of the firing cycles. It demonstrated to me how important cooling cycles are in glaze formation. Aesthetically, I like the way this surface both reflects and absorbs light. I also enjoy the iridescent background. I think it is a "moody" glaze.

Stoneware. Saturated metallic glaze.

Private Collection - Australia.

H 34 x W 33 cm

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Shiga Red Orb 2015

The glaze effect on this piece has long intrigued, if not frustrated, me. I've battled to reproduce it. The formula is a reworking of the often used "Tomato Red" glaze made popular, I’ve been told, by Shigeo Shiga. He was a Japanese potter who worked in Australia back in the 70's. I'm intrigued with the zinc free crystalisation, the amazing contrast of reflection and the absorption quality of the glaze. There are smaller spheres in the glaze that have a holographic quality, seemingly sitting just beneath the surface, creating a 3D effect.

Porcelain. Modified "Tomato Red" glaze.

Private Collection - Australia

H 35 x W 34 cm

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Earth Cradle 2019

I've produced three or four of these earth cradles and I think they are some of the heaviest pots I've ever made. However, because of their rounded base, they gently rock. I enjoy the weighty lurching, the subtle sway of this weighty piece. There is an environmental message in these cradles - the idea that our planet is both monumental and fragile.

Wood ash and flame marked. Stoneware.

Wood fired.

13 H x 43 W x 31 D

Wood fired Lidded Jar 2018

I can't think of a more astringent environment to create art than the fire box of an anagama kiln. Wood lands on top of this work throughout the firing. Consequently, complex surfaces build and this is compounded when the work is fired multiple times, as this pot was. I like to apply additional layers of glaze between firings to enhance this quality. Die hard wood firers and collectors tend to gravitate towards this type of work. These pieces are true survivors of the wood firing process and have plenty of scars to show for it.

Stoneware. Multiple firings in anagama fire box.

Private Collection - Australia.

H 14 x W 15 cm

Large Orb - Matt 2020

I can't think of a more astringent environment to create I'm not sure how certain things occur during long firings in wood kilns, but one thing I enjoy is that occasionally I get a surface that looks like drifting sheets of pack ice. Perhaps it is something to do with the super slow cooling cycle in these types of firings. I appreciate the interesting interplay of smooth gloss and crinkled matt surfaces, such as on this pot. Ultimately, you have to let go of defined expectations and enjoy the unique outcomes. It is the randomness of ceramic surfaces that endears wood fired pots to us.

Iron blue & ash glazes, side fired on sea shells. Porcelain.

Wood fired. Private Collection - Australia

H 36 x W 37 cm

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Dragonfly Eye Vase 2019

By side setting a piece on sea shells, the normal top to bottom flow of glaze is redirected around the pot, towards the viewer. Beads of ash glaze form randomly, and in Japan these are referred to as "biidoro" or “dragonfly’s eyes”. So often work emerges from the anagama unresolved. These pieces can be re-fired a second, third or fourth time until they do one of two things - sing or slump. I appreciate the singers.

Stoneware. Wood fired. Natural Ash.

Private Collection - Australia

H 21 x D 6 x W 7 cm

Mixed media works include the following


The Way of Water  2021

This painting is a visual and emotional response to a watercourse on my property. I witness the constant flux of colours and textures on a day to day basis. I believe this constant stream of observation and experience informs an ever developing sense of place. Like a lot of my ceramic art, this painting is primarily an exploration of texture, with a limited colour palette. I like seeing paintings that feature gestural mark making, as you might see in some ceramic work. In this case, a series of drag marks and scrapes create a weathered effect.

Oil & Acrylic on board,

122.5 x 75cm

On the Road to Huanshan 2008

Sometimes I like to work in 2D and 3D simultaneously. Often enough, when I have a 2D piece on the go, I'll see something in it while working at the wheel and get up and make changes on the canvas. Maybe working in two mediums at once allows one piece to inform the other. And vice versa. This work was made after returning from a trip to China. Shortly after, I was in central Australia and I was interested to note certain similarities in the landscape. I didn't expect that. This piece was a result of those thoughts and experiences.

Treated canvas, charcoal, ink and mixed media.

Private Collection - Australia

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