Petrus Spronk

A story where the artist tells you how an exhibition manifests from his mind. And keep in mind that every artist is different…

After a period of some fifty years of active exhibiting, not only in Australia, but also in the USA, Denmark, the Netherlands, Greece plus 8 years on the road (1975-1983) after which this artist returned to Australia and got serious about his work and from that day untill today learned great deal about the exhibiting. Here is one such tale.

The place is Nelshaby at the edge of the Flinders Ranges. The time is 1983. The circumstance: I have just arrived home after eight years on the road and I am filled with more ideas than I know what to do with. I am raring to go.

I have no money left to speak of, which is not necessarily a bad thing, since it makes me more creative -j ust a small amount, kept for a time when I have a real need for it. That time has now arrived. I decided to hire a pottery wheel and next buy a few bags of clay  from Bennetts on the edge of the Adelaide Hills, the same place where I used to get it when I was at art school. Their clay is consistent in its quality so I knew what I was getting. Bennet’s filtered terra cotta – a beautiful smooth clay. Thus with my clay, many ideas and a rented potters wheel, I settled down.

But another problem arrived: which, from my numerous ideas, I would choose? Where do I start.

I read once that every journey begins with the first step. Leafing through my dairy I came to the part where an American Indian medicine man took me for a walk and pointed to the setting moon. A silver bowl which seemed to be sitting on the horizon of a darkening blue sky and he told me, “We call that the receiver.” Remembering that as a rather poetic moment and understanding that an artwork, to be successful needs, a poetic aspect to it, I decided to start my journey in the land of clay with a bowl, a simple black bowl. And since I was never interested in glazing, I decided to burnish the bowl. And this is it. A simple black burnished bowl. The first step.

I started this story mentioning that I would write about the topic of Exhibitions. I got a little lost so I’d better return to it.

After a period of many moons I am able to create a perfect bowl, and after a number of firings I have enough pieces to create an exhibition..

What next? Because I didn’t want to start at a small unknown gallery, and because I know that I had a very individual and quality product, I decided to approach the best gallery in town.

I had a beautiful wooden box made which also served as a cubic shaped plinth. I wrapped my bowl in a piece of black silk and called in at the gallery. Typically I was made to wait, in the hope, I suppose, that I would go away. But that was not in my mind, since I was determined to succeed. After a long while I was finally allowed to see the director who, in her particular way of dealing with an annoying artist, inquired about my business. I told her that I had something in the boot of my car, which would interest her. Reluctantly she followed me outside. I opened the boot and there in an immaculate clean space stood the wooden box. I carefully opened it and took out the bowl wrapped in silk. I placed the lid back on the box, undid the silk wrap and placed the bowl on the box and lit the small spotlight that I had fixed in the boot for just this presentation. When, after a while she said have you got any more of these, I knew I had scored, especially when I was offered an exhibition on the spot.

Goes to show.

I am thinking about exhibitions because I have just today installed yet another exhibition, this one at the Australian Galleries in Collingwood. No matter when you read this, you have missed the opening, but you will still be able to see the show since it runs until the 20th of May. Opening times daily are from 10 am to 6 pm. I will present an artist talk on Saturday the 13th of May at 2:00 pm. It is free and special and all are welcome. If you want a more official invite please email me ( and I’ll send you one.



Petrus Spronk is a local artist and sculptor who contributes a monthly column to The Wombat Post.