Have just finished writing a paper about impermanent ceramics and how such art is valued aesthetically and culturally. Fascinating subject. And now just about to head off to Orkney for a few days to see Rik Hammond’s two solo shows there (check out his work on Facebook – Symbols in a Landscape at Orkney Museum, Kirkwall; Being and Remembering at the Pier Arts Centre, Stromness). Can’t wait to see the work in real life.
Meanwhile, I am still reflecting on the Clay Diaries exhibition. It was a really welcome opportunity to look back over the last few years and track the way my work has developed. I knew I wanted to start with Nest Eggs, which is a piece I found rewarding to make and always satisfying to return to. It was made in response to the collections at the Dorman Museum in Middlesbrough, when I took part in a show several years ago where we were invited to reflect on the museum and its contents.
I couldn’t get over the impact of the museum’s Victorian collection of birds eggs, together with their Bronze Age artefacts. It seemed natural to bring the two together in a series of pieces: hand-built vessels in the tradition of funerary beakers and urns, in which eggs of various sizes and clays would nestle.
Nest Eggs Unglazed stoneware, porcelain and grasses
The Clay Diaries exhibition was really interesting to be involved with. Having a show with six artists from the UK and six from Auroville was intriguing, as it was impossible to know in advance how – or if -our work would harmonise.
And in the event the whole show did work together, with a common interest in pushing boundaries, testing approaches to our chosen material and seeking to present interesting work for visitors to the exhibition.
The gallery at Kala Kendra is a beautiful circular space which encouraging the visitor to enter to explore all the work on show. The image shows work of both UK and Auroville-based exhibitors.
Clay Diaries exhibition February 2012 General view of the gallery space at Kala Kendra
Adding water to Fusion piece at Kala Kendra, two days into the installation 6 Feb 2012.
I used the same ‘petal’ layout for the fired black stoneware eggs on the next plinth.
Sadly I was unable to find an internet link while I was in India so that I could post to the blog.
It was a very interesting experience to be showing work alongside ceramic makers from both the UK and India – and the exhibition title in the end was CLAY DIARIES which fitted my approach very neatly.
I had a series of 6 pieces in the show, tracking the development of my ceramic work – and my outlook – over the last few years. A bit of a personal history really.
All the work travelled safely in my hold luggage, and I was able to finalise the impermanent piece with unfired eggs once I arrived.
Fusion 4 February 2012 Five unfired porcelain paper clay eggs on a fresh banana leaf in a thali platter lent for the show by Purushottaman of the local Sri Sivam Pottery
All packed up – well, nearly. More egg boxes than I thought possible to fit in a case, bubble-wrapped to protect against the usual flinging around that hold luggage gets during international flights
And time will tell whether they all arrive in one piece.
I am hoping to be able to post to the blog while I am away, but it all depends on accessing the internet, and I don’t think our guest house in Pondicherry will have Wi-Fi.
So the blog may go very quiet for the next week or so. I will certainly do some posting of images and updates once I return to the UK if I can’t keep posting while I am away.
I have examined the results of my very last firing. Well, as the caption on the last image below indicates, sometimes you are best advised not to meddle.
Opening the kiln after the very last firing for Kala Kendra 26 Jan 2012
Fumes from the new metal props have discoloured the eggs. Oh dear!
Here are my experimental unfired eggs after 3 days soaking. Not surprisingly they are looking pretty shapeless.
I haven’t posted anything for a couple of days because I was preparing a brief presentation for a research event which took place at Baltic Mill in Gateshead yesterday. It was a very useful event, but it did make me have to think hard about how far I had got in my research into impermanent ceramics.
The event was organised by the two universities locally involved in a Block Grant Partnership – mine (University of Sunderland) and University of Northumbria at Newcastle. And it was great to meet up with about 30 fellow researchers and to hear presentations from about 12 of them. So many bright, keen and industrious people! The message from the event for me is that I had better get on with writing up some of my research.
Well, it will really have to wait until I get back from Pondicherry – but I might take a theoretical text or two along with me.
Soaking test after 3 days - both clay bodies losing their integrity, but still looking a bit like eggs