Haute grunge: Cullen ceramics

Lately Adam Cullen has been getting his hands dirty making bronze sculptures and painting delicate ceramics. Belinda Aucott has the story

19 Jan 2012

One of Australia’s best-known artists, the so-called grunge artist Adam Cullen, has made quite a name for himself since winning the Archibald Prize in the year 2000.

His attention grabbing paintings have become known for their bright colours, fast sketchy outlines and often grotesque subject matter. But now his latest art efforts would tend to suggest he is mellowing. The current project for Aussie Art’s enfant terrible involves delving into his visual archive and exploring his long held talent for clay and bronze.

His new series of bronzes to be shown at the Tolarno Galleries mid this year, will be an Imaginarium of human torsos and heads, ‘weird creatures and strange animals’ according to the artist. While his ceramics line for The Cullen Hotel includes a range of ornamental and utlitarian objects painted with a softer version of his handi-work.

Cullen who trained as both a sculptor and painter, started working in bronze two years ago and launched his ceramics project with renowned potter Lyn Hart in late in 2011. He owes a debt of gratitude in the project to finding Hart, a renowned potter who also lives in the Mountains.

“Basically she is making the pots and then I go to work on them with the galzes. They’re initially dipped and then I atack them, inscribe them and they are re-fired. That’s how it works. It’s a half, half, straight down the line collaboration,” Cullen says.

Lyn Hart who has been a professional potter for over 30 years. She first studied under Helen Gulliver and encouraged by her mentor went on to further her studies at Brookvale Technical Collage. 


From her Blue Mountains Studio, Lyn Hart produces a range of fine ceramics  for a discerning market.

“I am really, really excited about the ceramics,” continues Cullen saying this is the first in a series of collections to come. “It’s awfully new, but the last time I was working in clay was with my mum, who was a ceramicist, and she died last year,” he says.

Cullen’s mother, who helped him learn to sclupt and create pottery as a boy, was a dedicated and talented potter. Cullen says working with Lyn and making ceramics again has brought his solace after his loss.

“I always had my hands in clay and always sculpted growing up. I think we will do more collections of ceramics because no two pieces are the same and that’s quite exciting,” he says.

The Cullen Hotel, part of Art Series Hotel is currently selling a limited edition line of Cullen ceramics in an 18-piece collection of one-offs.

Prices frange from $400-$1500 depending on their size, and most feature recognizable motifs from Cullen’s work including Ned Kelly and the Tassie Devil.

The Cullen

Art Series [The Cullen] Melbourne
164 Commercial Road Prahran 3181 VIC
T: (+613) 9098 1555
E: reservations_cullen@artserieshotels.com.au

Artserieshotels.com.au

Tolarno Galleries

Tolarnogalleries.com/adam-cullen