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Diana Warnes on Joy Schoenheimer’s Eggs

4 Mar 2021

Diana Warnes on Joy Schoenheimer’s Eggs

Diana Warnes, Head of Curatorial Projects at HOTA Gallery, tells us a little about a beautiful sculpture, which is part of the City Collection:

‘Eggs often present a conundrum. What came first is the usual trick, followed quickly by thoughts of Easter, chocolate, and lazy Sunday breakfasts. Eggs are an everyday staple, but symbolically can be interpreted through themes of fertility and new life. In Eggs Joy Schoenheimer elevates this humble food into considered sculptural forms. Four of the forms bear resemblance in size to emu eggs, and five smaller forms appear like those from a chicken. These Eggs bring to mind an elegant still life.

‘To understand Schoenheimer’s process, we need to turn it back a bit. Originally a painter and living in Brisbane, Schoenheimer turned to three dimensions. First, she played with fabricated metal and then began experimenting with ceramics when studying an Associate Diploma of Visual Art at Kelvin Grove College of Advanced Education in the 1970s. Schoenheimer moved to the Gold Coast in 1985 living at Broadbeach, and then in 1990 moving to Main Beach. Her studio was in Ashmore, which was a small building on a suburban block beside a park. She had a kiln installed and had room for just a workbench and a bathroom.

‘The famed Romanian sculptor Constantin Brâncuși was a source of inspiration from Schoenheimer, and this can be seen through the reduction and simplicity of form she employs. Process is everything for Schoenheimer, and closer inspection of Eggs begs further questions – just what have they been made from? And how has the marbling effect on the surface been achieved? Schoenheimer’s daughter Leigh provides an insight:

“Each egg began as two pinch pots which she then joined and shaped. She used paddles to shape, and spoons and her stone and glass tools to burnish. The metal spoons were responsible for leaving coloured marks upon the forms.”

‘Schoenheimer loved to experiment. She titled a university paper ‘Saw Dust Firing: an alternative way for sculptural forms’ and goes into detail explaining the processes and successes of firing at different temperatures over different time spans. This experimentation led to the fine ovoid forms in HOTA’s collection. Eggs has been sculpted from two types of clay: Walker’s White Earthenware, and pigmented clay. She has used sawdust and sagger fired the forms, resulting in smooth, warm white forms, with ripples of blues and mottled yellows and blacks.

‘These Eggs are a quiet gem in HOTA’s collection and we’re looking forward to displaying these in the new HOTA Gallery.’

You’ll be able to see this work, and many never seen before works from the City Collection in the brand new HOTA Gallery when it opens in May.


Image credit:

Joy Schoenheimer Eggs (not dated) Walker’s White Earthernware clay, inlaid with pigmented clay, sawdust and sagger fired. Gift of Joy Schoenheimer 2013. © Image courtesy of the artist.