The first set of this ongoing series was made during a 2016 residency at Guldagergaard International Ceramic Research Centre in Denmark, and was influenced by the stark symbolism of book burnings.
Where They Burn Books references the power, resilience and preciousness of knowledge, despite forces against it. By strengthening these porcelain objects through the firing process; they stand as martyrs to spoken, written and remembered language; and in a contemporary context, they celebrate society’s unprecedented and exponential access to stories, testimony and ideas.
Each piece is hand-carved and carefully dried over the course of months. Displayed amongst the groupings are dark forms, which are created from an experimental composite material that suspends reclaimed porcelain in compressed paper ash. This material is also used to fill and accentuate cracks in the porcelain pieces.
Not long before the residency where this series started, the idea formed while researching for a multi-year project I was undertaking at the time. In nineteenth-century German Jewish poet, Heinrich Heine’s play Almawnsor (1820-21), which was burnt in 1933 Germany, Heine wrote: “Where they burn books, they will also ultimately burn people.”
Dan Elborne is an Australian visual artist currently practicing in Naarm/Melbourne. His primary working material is clay, which is utilized for long-form installation-based projects and sculptural series’. Across various modes of practice, Elborne builds work on intersecting foundations of memory, time, labour and materiality.
Each project and piece remain conscious of the historical, philosophical and technical potency of ceramics, as well as secondary materials including ash, gold, lead and bone. Through their use, Elborne references events, themes and dichotomies of survival against suffering, preservation against decay and the intricacies of remembering. Ultimately and regardless of form, Elborne’s work is designed, produced and exhibited to invite viewers into a gentle space of interpretation, contemplation and actionable reflection.
Elborne has exhibited extensively in Australia; including gallery, institution and museum shows across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania. Internationally, Elborne has participated in a number of artist residencies in France, Denmark, Iceland and Japan, as well as exhibitions in London, Helsinki, Sweden, Copenhagen and Philadelphia. His work has also been published and is part of both public and private collections across the globe.
Between 2011 and 2014, Elborne completed a Bachelor of Creative Arts (majoring in visual art) with Honours through the University of Southern Queensland (USQ). Between 2016 and 2019, he completed a Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) through USQ, which focussed on the role, relevance and responsibility of contemporary art in representing atrocities and collective trauma.
In late January of 2020, Elborne moved from his hometown of Toowoomba to Melbourne where his practice is now based at Schoolhouse Studios (Coburg) on Kulin Nation lands.