Yasmin Smith (b. 1984, Sydney, lives Sydney) travels widely undertaking research for her archaeological ceramics installations that explore the chemistry of glaze techniques to furnish material evidence of histories, ecologies, geology and culture. She makes her glazes from organic and inorganic material found on site with elements of the clay body sometimes also locally excavated as part of her process. Smith’s practice straddles art (ceramics) and more scientific investigations.

During October/November 2018, Yasmin Smith undertook a seven-week residency in Sichuan province in southwest China to produce a major new ceramics installation, Flooded Rose Red Basin, for Cosmopolis #1.5: Enlarged Intelligence, curated by Kathryn Weir (with associate curator Ilaria Conti and assistant curator Zhang Hanlu). It is the second major exhibition associated with the biennial Cosmopolis platform which was launched by the Centre Pompidou, Paris, in 2016. Cosmopolis #1.5 is supported by the Mao Jihong Arts Foundation and hosted in Chengdu, China. Smith’s studio for Cosmopolis #1.5 was the Jinhui Ceramic Sanitary Ware Factory in Wuchangzhen in the agricultural and industrial lands of the Chengdu Plain. This site is geologically situated in the Sichuan Red Basin. There she developed and produced a major new site-specific installation, Flooded Rose Red Basin, which included three new ash glazes derived from organic material sourced in the area.

Artistic Director Mami Kataoka invited Smith to develop a major site-specific work on Cockatoo Island for the 21st Biennale of Sydney in 2018. Smith was one of the first 21 artists announced for the Biennale and one of three Australian artists on the preliminary list for the overall Biennale program. Smith’s project investigates the presence and significance of salt in the Sydney Harbour and Parramatta River tidal exchange. The project involves public participation for the first month. Taking place across two sites on the island: an operational studio with a kiln and its own salt farm; and an old timber drying shed, Smith’s project uses her now signature archaeological ceramic techniques to explore the underlying history and ecology of the area.

In 2017, Smith was one of five artists selected for the Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award exhibition at the Shepparton Art Museum. Her work, Open Vase Central Leader Widow Maker, contains over 150 cast ceramic branches of three species of tree (Sundowner Apple, Beurré Bosc Pear and River Red Gum) that have been glazed with their own wood ash glazes. Open Vase Central Leader Widow Maker is an exploration of the potential of handmade wood ash glazes to reveal the chemical composition of each tree species as an expression of its environment and at the same time is an essay on growth of form. The title refers to the pruning techniques specific to each tree. Open Vase Central Leader Widow Maker was subsequently acquired by the Shepparton Art Musuem.

In 2016, Smith was invited to develop a project for the inaugural, outdoor Sculpture at Barangaroo, Sydney. The outcome was Contours of our Heart, in which Sydney Sandstone dust was sourced from massive on site landscaping excavations to make clay and glazes for a two-week outdoor public engagement project.

In 2014, Smith spent a month at Hermannsburg in Central Australia assisting the local community of potters on the Old Church Project. The project's aim was to create a ceramic replica of the old Lutheran mission church, an installation with soundscape, exploring the material culture of the mission period. As a result of her time at Hermannsburg, Smith developed Ntaria Fence for a solo exhibition at The Commercial. Ntaria Fence was an archeological ceramics installation in which River Red Gum branches were collected on site and cast in a mid-fire slip and glazed with Hermannsburg wood ash glaze (River Red Gum, Mulga, Palm Tree) gathered from cooking fire pits from the same area. This was the first time that Smith developed and worked with site-specific, hand-made glazes. Ceramic branches were exhibited as part of a fence, replicating an actual fence in Ntaria around domestic dwellings.

In 2013, Smith was shortlisted for the 2013 Fauvette Loureiro Memorial Artists’ Travel Scholarship Prize, Sydney College of the Arts, Sydney.

In 2010, she participated in the excavation of a site at Clunia, Penalba Del Castro in Spain.

Solo exhibitions include Drowned River Valley, The Commercial, Sydney (2018); Ntaria Fence, The Commercial, Sydney (2015); Apprentice Welder, as part of Installation Contemporary, curated by Aaron Seeto for the inaugural Sydney Contemporary Art Fair, Sydney (2013); Stone Skin, The Commercial, Sydney (2013); For the Promise of Water or Being Clean at Peloton, Sydney (2011); Boundary (with Kenzee Patterson) at MOP, Sydney (2011); For No Real Reason at Firstdraft, Sydney (2010) and If I Could Come Near Your Beauty With My Nails at Newspace Gallery, Sydney (2006).

Group exhibitions include Cosmopolis #1.5: Enlarged Intelligence, curated by Kathryn Weir, Centre Pompidou off-site, Chengdu, China (2018); SUPERPOSITION: Equilibrium & Engagement, the 21st Biennale of Sydney, curated by Mami Kataoka, Sydney (2018); Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award, Shepparton Art Museum, Shepparton (2017); Sculpture at Barangaroo, Barangaroo Reserve, Sydney (2016); MCA Artbar, curated by Nick Dorey and Hossein Ghaemi, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2014); Nocturnal Windows, curated by Ian Geraghty for the display windows of Gregory Boutique, Sydney (2014); Reality Considerations (for the sake of), curated by Eleanor Ivory Weber at 55 Sydenham Rd; Ceramica curated by Scott Donovan at the Institute of Contemporary Art Newtown, Sydney (both 2012); Everything’s Alright curated by Amanda Rowell at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney and Structural Integrity as part of the Next Wave Festival, Melbourne (both 2010).

Smith completed her Master of Visual Arts (Ceramics) at Sydney College of the Arts, the University of Sydney in 2010. She was a director of the influential Sydney artist-run initiative, Locksmith Project from 2008 until 2010 (co-directors Rachel Fuller, Kenzie Larsen, Kenzee Patterson and Samuel Villabolos).

Her work is in the collection of Artbank, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia and Shepparton Art Museum.


» View available works by Yasmin Smith