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  • WhenWednesday 3 May to Sunday 21 May
  • School of Art and Design event at Drill HallThursday 11 May, 6-8pm - no reservations
  • Digital Archive linkLink

This pop-up exhibition at the ANU Drill Hall Gallery (Wednesday 3 May to Sunday 21 May) coincides with the launch of The world of Hiroe Swen, a digital archive, celebrating over 50 years of Hiroe Swen’s ceramic practice.

Visit the Digital Archive here

Exhibition events include an ANU staff and student evening on Thursday 11 May, a public launch on Saturday 13 May including presentations by: Grace Cochrane – independent curator, writer, historian of contemporary crafts and design; Meghen Jones, Associate Professor of Art History, New York State College of Ceramics of Alfred University (participating with recorded message); Paul Davis, ceramicist; and Jacqueline Clayton, ceramicist and teacher.

Please note: for those able to attend the official launch, this event will be recorded. The recording will be available on the Drill Hall Gallery website the week following the event.

“Over more than 50 years, Hiroe (nee Takebe) Swen has been a major inspiration to those working in Australian studio ceramics, bringing a particular perspective that was unusual at its outset and has remained a significant example to others ever since.” Grace Cochrane AM

Hiroe Swen was born in 1934 in Kyoto, and first trained as a painter, and then textile designer.  She commenced ceramic study in 1957 and, after establishing herself as a ceramicist in Kyoto, relocated to Australia in 1968 with her husband Cornel Swen, a Dutch graphic designer and artist. Moving close to Canberra, they established their own studios and the Pastoral Gallery on their property, Bimbimbi, outside of Queanbeyan, where they lived, worked and exhibited until 2000.

Swen taught ceramics from 1971-1973 at Canberra Technical College, after which she established the Bimbimbi Ceramic Study Group. She taught at the Canberra School of Art/ANU School of Art as a lecturer from 1981 to 2000.

This digital archive emerged from a desire to document Hiroe’s creative practice in the studio through a series of technical demonstrations. The edited film captures a step-by-step process of how the magic happens and is augmented by an interview with Hiroe, adding further insight into her methods. The online archive documents over 140 ceramic works and is accompanied by essays from Grace Cochrane AM, Dr Chiaki Ajioka, Meredith Hinchliffe AM, and Alan Watt.

More details on related events will be forthcoming soon.

The world of Hiroe Swen digital archive is supported by the NSW Government through Create NSW and the ACT Government through ArtsACT funding:


Cultural agencies who have assisted the project include the ANU Drill Hall Gallery, the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra Museum and Art Gallery, Art Gallery of South Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, and 14 other art galleries in Australia.

Image: Hiroe Swen, Spirit basket, circa 1990. Oxidised stoneware, coil, sgraffito decoration, 30 x 26.5 x 24 cm. Courtesy the artist.

Presentations at the public launch of ‘The World of Hiroe Swen’s Ceramic Art: Educational Resources and a Digital Archive’.

May 13, 2023, at Drill Hall Gallery, ANU, ACT, Australia

Speakers and the timings are listed below.

Terence Maloon
Director, Drill Hall Gallery

Mayumi Shinozaki
Project manager

Grace Cochrane, AM
Independent curator

Meghen Jones
Art Historian on Japanese pottery, US (pre-recorded message)

Meredith Hinchliffe, AM
Independent art writer

Paul Davis

Jacqueline Clayton
Ceramicist & educator

Alan Watt

Hiroe Swen
Ceramicist featured in this digital archive

The Drill Hall Gallery acknowledges the Ngunnawal and Ngambri peoples, the traditional custodians of the Canberra region, and recognises their continuous connection to culture, community and Country.