Yasmin Smith’s artwork ‘Terroir’ acquired by the National Gallery of Australia Canberra

The work of Smith is an excavation of history through embedded and ecological remnant’s of time and place.

Words: Adriana Borsey

Commissioned for the 2021 Tarrawarra Biennial and exhibited at Melbourne Art Fair earlier this year, Yasmin Smith’s ceramic installation Terroir has been acquired by the National Gallery of Australia. Terroir featured in Slow Moving Waters; a group exhibition, curated by Nina Miall, at the TarraWarra Museum of Art, Melbourne along with several other artists.

Smith combines scientific and artistic investigation into her work where ecological forms of intelligence are expressed through aesthetic outcomes in sculptural ceramic installations.

Smith sifts through the history of a site where she collects samples of plant materials. The materials are then used to cast ceramic replicas of branches before burning the original wood to create ash glazes for the sculptures. She reveals the ecological and human history of the site – exposed in the plant form- elements of water, soil, and air are absorbed over time, retained like a form of memory or archive.

A forensic approach to form and material intimately connects Smith’s ceramic practice to an archelogy of place. The shapes, colour and textures of the installation were taken directly from the vineyard of the TarraWarra Estate. The term terroir is a vinicultural concept; a French term used to describe how the character colour, texture and flavour of different wines is determined by environmental factors (soil composition, bedrock, climate), and by human activities (agricultural management), which exert a dual influence over the specificity of the yield. Smith reveals the hidden narratives, layers of history, geology, and culture through her practice.

Smith is represented by The Commercial Gallery, Sydney.

Her work is in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales (Sydney), Artbank, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (Sydney), National Gallery of Australia (Canberra), Powerhouse Museum (Sydney), Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art (Brisbane) and Shepparton Art Museum (Shepparton).

This article was posted 20 July 2022.

Image: Yasmin Smith, Terroir, 2020, Yarra Valley pinot noir vine-ash glaze on stoneware slip, 20 objects, dimensions variable to site (this installation approx. 230 x 513 x 10 cm). Photo: Elle Fredericksen [composite: Sofia Freeman], Collection: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.


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