'clay comes from the earth and it retains a memory'


Julie Swan was born in South Australia. Her early years were spent compulsively drawing the human figure. This fascination for the human form proved popular with her school peers. She remembers that 'they would line up during school breaks to have their portraits drawn'. During her high school years, Julie's skills were broadened and challenged by the tuition of Lorna Lee. She was introduced to clay, intriguing books and magical gardens. Lorna said to look carefully and shape what you see. It was at this time that Julie also decided to express what she could feel.


After being taken up by a fashion house for her drawing and designing skills, Julie changed focus and enrolled at The North Adelaide School of Art. During this time her teaching influences were exceptional. She particularly remembers Milton Moon in the Ceramics Department 'he could always be relied on to demonstrate that work is constant practice and it requires a level of non-attachment'. Helen MacIntosh in the Design Department encouraged sensitivity and personal reflection and Dora Chapman in Life Drawing, challenged all with her expectation for academic rigour. A degree in Visual Arts and Secondary Art Teaching followed. Her skills diversified within the Department of Education, the community and abroad. Despite receiving much recognition for the projects that she facilitated, Julie values most highly the empowering quality that art practice and education can bring to the individual. Art provides a unique language for self expression and communication with others. In 2002, she resigned from teaching to commit fully to her art practice. Her studios are now located in the Fleurieu Peninsula, South Australia.


Today, Julie's sculptures are recognised for their beauty and portrayal of 'sensuous' line and form. She plays with light and shade and is fascinated by the act of transforming the static base material of earth towards a sense of light and energy. Her works often reference religious teachings. She explores similarities and their relevance to contemporary society. Surprisingly perhaps, Julie's works show influences from the genre of  'Steam Punk' and also the aesthetic of the Japanese 'Kabuki' theatre. 


First impressions may suggest a 'pretty' form, but on deeper analysis, layers unfold to reveal careful symbolism and inter-connectedness.




'We know that energy cannot be destroyed. The quality of the energy that I use is therefore critical to my art practice. As I work, I aim to mentally 'step back' and allow the material to move in a manner that I believe is natural. Clay comes from the earth and it retains a memory. I am happy to allow for that memory.  It's transition to a sculptural form then seems to be a sympathetic process'     

Julie Swan 2017