Cameo #9 – Phil Elson

Phil begin his quest to be a ceramic artist in 1981 at the age of 29 after becoming enthralled at seeing a potter throw and shape a pot on the wheel at a school where he was teaching filmmaking and photography.  After full time study for a few years he trained and worked with various well known potters until 1989 when he opened his first studio at Trentham.  His current studio, Phil Elson Pottery, in Castlemaine was opened in 2001.

Over many years Phil’s work centred around the exploration of the bowl both as a functional form and an object of beauty…bowls of different shape, size and colour.  An aspect evident in Phil’s earlier work is the Taoist philosophy that a slightly asymmetrical shape is more dynamic than a symmetrical shape because the asymmetrical object is still striving for perfection.

However, on a recent Australia Council residency trip toBarcelonato study Baroque ceramics, Phil was struck more by the architecture and vibrant culture.  “I stood, overwhelmed,… “Something about the buildings against the open spaces shook me.”…“I loved how these buildings reached into the air; into the sky about them. They exuded a love of materials, a love of place, a love of life.”

On returning from Barcelonalast year Phil found the pots he was throwing were finer, larger, and less about function – more an interpretation of his experiences in Barcelona.  His bowls and tall, cylindrical and sometimes bulbous vessels, had become elevated to another finer level. 

   Phil’s work may be viewed at:


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