Yasmin Smith / Australia b.1984 / Flooded Rose Red Basin (installation view) 2018 / Yong Chuan slip industrial stoneware with wood (Eucalyptus grandis) ash glaze and Jiajiang bamboo ash glaze / 68 pieces: installed dimensions variable / Purchased 2021 with funds from the Future Collective through the QAGOMA Foundation / Collection: QAGOMA / © Yasmin Smith

Yasmin Smith
Flooded Rose Red Basin 2018

Not Currently on Display

Flooded Rose Red Basin 2018 was made while Yasmin Smith was in residence at the Jinhui Ceramic Sanitary Ware Factory in the Sichuan province of China. Segments of bamboo stems were cast at the factory which usually produces toilets and sinks. The plant material was burnt and the remaining ash used to glaze the stoneware objects. Smith’s interest in bamboo was spurred on by recent scientific investigations into the material as a possible source of biosilica for future electric, solar, satellite and phone technologies.

During her time in Sichuan, the artist noticed established plantings of a species of eucalyptus tree endemic to Australia and known as the flooded gum or rose gum. Eucalyptus was used as an ornamental planting in China from 1890, but it was not until the 1950s that large eucalyptus timber plantations were established. Gums are also planted along roadsides and farmland to stabilise soil erosion; however, as they are adept at absorbing water and nutrients, the trees leave reduced supplies for the surrounding agricultural vegetation.

Encountering this Australian tree far from its original habitat, yet deeply embedded in the Chinese landscape, prompted Smith to also create a set of stoneware eucalypt branches — with a syrupy, gum-ash glaze — to be presented alongside the sections of cast bamboo. Bringing together these two emblematic plants, Flooded Rose Red Basin highlights the tension between local and introduced species, and the ecological challenges intensive industrialisation of the countryside and the climate emergency pose to both China and Australia.

Yasmin Smith is known for her research-based ceramic installations that evoke the landscape from which they are produced. As part of her investigative method, Smith gathers natural materials and, through analysis, determines how she can harness their chemical properties. Key to the artist’s process is burning plant material as a basis for glazes. The minerals, nutrients and toxins absorbed from soil and water remain in the ash, resulting in fascinating colour and textural variations in the glazes that cover Smith’s ceramic casts of the original plants.