Hermie Cornelisse studied at the University of Tasmania where she received a BFA, majoring in sculpture, and a Diploma in Art, Craft and Design in Ceramics. Since 1992, she has combined a business making functional ceramics with an exhibition practice in ceramics, embroidered textiles and drawing. The work made from her studio in North Hobart is now distributed nationally.


War Hero embroidered textiles: old woolen blankets, cotton lining, wool & linen thread, all seams handsewn 29 x 66cm, 2002 Bride embroidered textiles: silk & linen, linen & cotton thread; all seams handsewn, 100 x 56cm, 2002

Photograph of her Dutch parents.

Potato Box ceramic vessel, thrown, altered hand-building clay, vitreous slip and glaze, 37 x 21.5 x 24cm, 2002

The first object I ever made was a multi-tensioned, multi-coloured knitted woollen scarf. I was then four. Invention only truly became part of my consciousness some twenty years later. Travel overseas gave me a real sense of independence and time to make art.

The ‘Glory Box’ is an attempt to imagine my parent’s experience of emigrating from the Netherlands. With two small children, my parents Adrianus and Johanna Cornelisse finally chose Tasmania to live their new lives. It promised temperate weather and freedom from unemployment, poverty, overcrowding and the threat of another invasion, this time from Russia.

My mother came from Vagel, in the south of Holland and my father from Amsterdam in the north. My mother rarely mentioned wartime Holland. I do know she lived there the entire time the war was on. My father, however, did talk about his wartime experiences. He was chosen, in preference to his father, to become a slave worker in Germany in a munitions factory for the duration of the war. Growing up with dad meant a lot listening to stories—varied versions and retold. Hitler became to my mind some kind of distant relative.
My work for this exhibition has evolved via the need to tell my story, my version of the war—trying to see it through my parent’s eyes. I see my parents emigrating from Holland to Australia as the ‘War Hero’ and ‘Bride’.

The blanket used to create ‘War Hero’ came as a protective cover for the kiln I bought some ten years ago. I don’t know its owner, but it has faded green. The worn and patched appearance has seen dirt, blood and the devastation of war. The silk and linen of ‘Bride’ is the young wife dutifully following her beloved husband to a new land.

The ceramic works are the Van Gogh’s ‘Potato Eaters’ and the survivors of the war—people eating only potatoes or tulip bulbs just to survive. The glamorised version of a box ‘Potato Box’ is the hope I have for our haven.

Hermie Cornelisse 2002