In the mid-1990s, then Principal, Mrs Judith Hancock initiated a project to acquire ceramics to enhance Brisbane Girls Grammar School’s Fine Arts Collection.
The estate of a former student, Marjorie Lamb (1918), donated money in support of this initiative, which allowed for the purchase of two beautiful ceramic pieces.
One piece was acquired from ceramicist Peter Travis and the other from ceramicist sculptor Hiroe Swen.
Travis, who also practised as an industrial designer, kite-maker, colour consultant and teacher, was invited to work for Speedo in the 1960s and designed the men’s swimsuit that became the company’s most famous design and an Australian icon—the speedo.
Travis was one of the first contemporary Australian potters to break away from the wheel and to create hand-built organic sculptural works.
This ceramic sphere, purchased in 1996, fired in pink and grey glaze and handmade, comprises interwoven loops of clay making a ball.
He exhibited nationally and internationally, and his work is represented in many major Australian and international collections.
In 2008, Travis was made Member of the Order of Australia for his outstanding contribution to the visual arts, crafts, design, and art education.
Swen was born in Kyoto and studied for five years under Master Potter, Zenko Yasuda, before moving to Australia in 1968 with her husband, artist, Cornel Swen.
She specialises in one-off, hand-built sculptural ceramics of bold and contemporary design, but simple shapes.
This large glazed and painted ikebana vase, purchased for the School ceramics collection in 1998, is a beautiful example of her work.
Swen has exhibited extensively in Australia and internationally. Her work is represented in the collections of the Australian National Gallery and all State Art Galleries as well as major collections across the world.
In 2016, Swen was awarded The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays by the Government of Japan for her contribution to the promotion of Japanese culture and mutual understanding between Japan and Australia, as well as her achievements in ceramics.
Ms Lorraine Thornquist
Manager of Collections