Posted 3 years ago
Stoneware decorated with tenmoku, grey and black matt glazes, Australian, c. 1973, painted 'BS' monogram, height 37 cm.(14.5 ins), diameter 13.5 cm. (5.3 ins).
Bernard Sahm, active 1949-c1990
This vase from the 1970’s is one of the “columnar ‘pipe’ shaped vessels” that maintained a thread of kinship from the 1960s through to the 2000s.
This vase was bought at the Rozelle markets about three years ago. I had decided that I would like some more Australian studio pieces. I liked the sculptural qualities of the piece which was being sold by an ex-student of mine who deals in good quality items. I have learnt to trust the 'eye' of this young man. It reminded me of a chess piece at first and of a Samurai warrior: traditional, familiar shapes but with a comical twist.
Unlike most contemporary ceramic artists, Sahm's early ceramic training was in commercial studio Martin Boyd Pottery, Terra Ceramics in Sydney and, in 1956, at Gutenhalde Ceramics in Stuttgart. The Sahms then travelled to Britain, where Bernard secured work at Harry and May Davis's Crowan Potteryn near St Ives, in Cornwall, England. He was throwing an amazing 100 lidded pots a day.
''His work is strong and elegant. He is a traditionalist but he is never dull or conventional.'' wrote the critic James Gleeson.
Bernard Sahm was a greatly respected potter whose work is represented in all the major galleries of Australia. Sahm’s original approach to his art took up the counter-cultural spirit of the times using parody and wit to portray what Sahm saw as the absurdities in society. Themes from an exhibiton in Faenza Italy in 1976 were: Pillars of Society, Art Machines, Mind Modifying Machines, Concept Dispensers, Helpful Hints, and Funerary Urns. Over time the nature of his output increasingly blurred the distinction between ceramics and sculpture while at the same time critiquing society and specifically the art world. The ceramic work of Bernard Sahm (1926-2011) is represented in all the major galleries of Australia.
Teaching and Academic Positions
1964-1976 Taught Ceramics at National Art School, Sydney.
1977-1984 Senior Lecturer and Head of Ceramics Department, Sydney College of the Arts.
The success of many ceramic artists who have graduated from the Sydney College of the Arts stands as a testament to his vision.