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Q&A: Marlyn Radley

For Brisbane-based ceramicist Marlyn Radley, Commune offered the chance for her to “contribute to the collective memory of the city”.  Titled ‘Coming of Age’, Marlyn’s memory vessel recounts the days when Brisbane was on show to the world and echoes the  experience of a city preparing to host the Olympic Games. For Marlyn, EXPO 88 also offered a chance for her own coming of age as a seventeen-year-old in this city.  We sat down with Marlyn to chat about cherished memories, her love for ceramics and that whacky platypus that wore a yellow safari shirt and Akubra.

What a nostalgia hit your memory vessel offers! What inspired ‘Coming of Age’?

My piece in Commune is titled ‘Coming of Age’ and represents the significant time in Brisbane’s history during EXPO 88 where the world was showcased to Brisbane and Brisbane to the world. However, for me personally, it holds a special place in my heart as my own coming of age as a seventeen-year-old. It was a time of creating cherished memories with friends, attending concerts, exploring restaurants and immersing myself in the exciting events happening around the city.

Commune at Museum of Brisbane 2023. Artworks (L to R): Susie Hansen,  Rebecca Richter, Eric Clews, Marlyn Radley, Esther Morrisby, Alessia Emanuele and Kathy Gardiner. Photo: Joe Ruckli.
Why did you choose to share this memory for Commune?

I chose to submit this memory vessel because it presented an exciting opportunity for me. Being able to exhibit a piece I created at Museum of Brisbane is a milestone in my personal history. It allows me to contribute to the narrative of Brisbane itself. By sharing my memory of Brisbane’s past through this vessel, my intention is to evoke smiles and laughter, and a sense of nostalgia in those who encounter it. I hope it prompts them to reminisce about the vibrant Brisbane that existed during EXPO 88 and for those that did not experience it firsthand, I hope a platypus with a yellow safari shirt, wearing an Akubra brings them joy.

Becoming a part of Brisbane’s history through my artwork is a truly remarkable experience. I’m grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the collective memory of the city. As I continue my journey as a ceramic artist, I eagerly anticipate the connections and emotions my art will evoke in the hearts of others.

An archival photo of Expo Oz waving at a crowd.
World Expo 88 - Expo Oz in Street Parade - South Bank - 1988. Courtesy Brisbane City Council Archives. Image ID: BCC-T35-281.9.
How did your ceramics practice begin? Would you consider yourself a professional ceramicist?

My journey in ceramics began around six years ago when my husband gifted me a voucher to create a bowl for my birthday. That initial experience ignited my passion for ceramics and since then I have eagerly explored my craft through various workshops, courses, and still attend weekly sessions with a wonderful teacher and group of clay friends.

Now, I am a ceramic artist carving out time for my creative life while balancing the responsibilities of working in the family business and being a mum to four beautiful young adults.

Artist Marlyn Radley shaping a ceramic work in her studio.
Marlyn Radley in her studio. Courtesy the artist.

See the work of hundreds of Brisbane’s ceramic artists by visiting Commune at Museum of Brisbane.


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