Patrick Collins works from his ceramics studio in Kingston and is represented by Despard Gallery, Hobart

Curtain call 120 x 80 x .15cm maiolica 2003

I was born on St. Patrick’s Day in London to an Irish father and English mother.

They wanted a priest in the family but I managed to escape that fate. After some excruciating schooling I entered Lloyds of London where I worked in an aviation underwriter’s box in the ‘Room’. After several excruciating years in insurance I fled Lloyds, immigrating to Australia in search of adventure and sun, with my much cherished XK120, British racing green Jaguar in tow. After a short sojourn in Sydney I headed for Queensland and eventually found work as a concrete labourer in Wiepa. I later moved to Mt Isa where I scaled the dizzying heights to become a sinter plant operator in a lead smelter. When they offered me the position of shift boss I declined the offer and moved to Sydney. A girlfriend in Sydney asked me to build her a pottery kick wheel which I did in the kitchen of my Bondi flat. She tired of it quickly and went on to become a computer programmer. I found it fascinating and applied and was accepted into the Ceramic course at the National Art School.
To support myself during those years I drove taxis at night, an education in itself. On graduating in 1973 Les Blakebrough invited me to be his studio assistant at the Tasmanian School of Art then at Mt Nelson in Hobart. I spent the next three years working in the ceramics department before leaving to establish my own studio.

In 1976 I received an Australia Council Grant to establish a ceramic studio at ‘Flowerpot’ south of Hobart working in traditional stoneware and porcelain techniques. While visiting my family in London in the early 80’s I viewed an exhibition of fifteenth-century Italian maiolica at the British museum. I was ‘bowled’ over by the vibrancy and beauty of the ‘istoriato’ platters, albarelli and bowls depicting mythological, religious and allegorical subject matter. On returning to Australia, with the assistance of a Tasmanian Arts Advisory Board Grant, I relocated my studio to its present location at Kingston Beach where I began research into tin glazed maiolica and the ceramic painting technique.
Much of the inspiration for my work has since been derived from the influence of the ‘istoriato’ style and the traditions of early fifteenth century Renaissance painting.

I have lived and worked professionally as a ceramist in Tasmania for the past 25 years; exhibiting nationally and internationally and am represented in many public and private collections in Australia and overseas.

The story of Claudio Alcorso is an inspirational one of struggle over adversity, reinvention, success and achievement at the highest level. It is also a story about displacement and a yearning for past traditions and the need to recreate a new world from the old. In the sense that my journey has also been circuitous and driven by circumstance and chance, there are parallels with the Alcorso story, only in that I have found my ‘haven’ in this far flung corner of the world so removed from my previous life. The work in ‘Haven’ is a response to the story of Claudio Alcorso and his passionate involvement in Australian opera, the arts and the preservation of the environment. This has particular reference to Tasmania and its pristine wilderness resonating in the human search for a place of peace and tranquillity on a troubled planet, a place where one can develop one’s highest potential in freedom and harmony with ourselves and our environment.

Patrick Collins 2002