Gifted ceramic artist Dan Elborne is regarded as a mild, retiring and quietly spoken character around the campus at the University of South Queensland.
Yet he can hardly contain his excitement or stop a smile spreading across his face as he contemplates spending much of the next year in France. The opportunity to undertake four residencies in the French Republic opened up for him at the end of 2013 when he was awarded USQ’s Bellmaine French Appreciation Travelling Scholarship. “I still can’t really believe I received the award and what that is enabling me to do,” says Dan, who will leave for France on March 12. “It seems surreal to be given an opportunity like this because I could never, at this stage in my career, have been able to do anything like I am without having the scholarship. But it is all feeling very real now because I’ve locked in dates, booked my airline tickets and have pretty well arranged everything. It’s been in the back of my mind for a while but now it has become a reality.
Elbourne says, “I will be starting the residencies in Normandy and then I will be going onto Paris for the second one. Then come the two major residencies, which are on the southern coast of France.” The first of these will be at Vallauris where Picasso lived for a time and where his works are displayed in the Museum Magnelli. The other is at Ateliers Four Winds, which is an artistic community where sculpture, painting, drawing, water colouring and ceramics is practised. “I will be working closely with other artists at each of the residencies and will be able to see their own creative processes close up,” says Dan.
Elbourne, who became a Bachelor of Creative Arts in 2013, has just completed his Honours Degree in Creative Arts. He began his years at USQ after trying a few other pursuits. “I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do after leaving school,” he says. “I worked for a few years as a watchmaker and a jewellery repair guy and then I tried the army, but I soon realised that wasn’t for me. Then I had a couple of nine to five jobs, which I became bored with quite quickly. I’d always had a hobby of drawing or making stuff so I figured going to university and developing those skills would be a good idea. For some reason once I started at USQ I connected with ceramics.”
This led to Dan having his first group exhibition at Toowoomba’s MADE Creative Space in October of 2011. Numerous other solo and group exhibitions, a number in major cities, have followed in the time since. “Most of my ideas are like a 3D type of project,” he says. “I do castings mostly, making multiples of the same objects such as big ceramic installations that can fill a room or a gallery space. I like the history and preciousness of ceramics and I think I always will.”
Words by Graeme Kelly | Images by Benjamin Tupas, Hannah Roche, Ruby Red Photography