Thursday, May 24, 2012

little sculptures birdsongs and foam

helen fuller

Helen Fuller was one of my teachers 25 million years ago when I did my undergraduate degree at QUT.  I remember finding her intriguing but I was too young to fully take advantage of her off-beat creativity and gentle encouragement.  Since that time Helen has moved to Adelaide and is now making pots.  I love these pots, I like the way Fuller has used the composition to flatten the pots which weirdly draws attention to their 3 dimensionality.  The marks of making are very evident in the surface texture and the form refers to domestic shapes.  For a painter to make pots like this where the surface texture, form and colour and composition of the drawings are pulling back and forward in an evenly weighted dialogue is very unusual.  It intersects with my concerns about drawing on pots becoming too superficial, and decorative.  I like the way the form of the pots are in tension with the composition which seems to be trying the pull them into a different shape  the further I get into this degree the more I discover the materiality is an important element in my making.  Concerns from the beginning of my interest in pots have developed into a dogged exploration of surface and form, a continual striving for the drawings to work back and forwards with the surface and form.

Tijne Meulendijks & Claudine Marzik

Claudine and Tijne are showing their work with the Noosa  exhibition of Swamp Cartography.  creatively this has been the most satisfying and inspiring exhibition of the tour.  Tijne was grappling with 3 metre long raspberry canes and weaving them into a bramble wall  when I arrived at the gallery and Claudine paintings picked up the jagged, light uneven grid of the brambles and examined them anew in two-dimensions.

I love how the paintings are in dialogue with the sculpture and the way Tijne brings the natural world into the gallery, magnifying and refining diverse elements of an eco-system.  These works also speak very strongly about process and materiality, The paintings revealing sanded layers and robust marks of gesture.

Swamp Cartography at Noosa

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

To foot or not to foot?

Turning a piece of pottery upside down and seeing a neat, formal foot enclosing the potter's mark , combines the pleasures of handling the shape and weight of an object with the gentle thrill of seeing a familiar potter's mark or, finding an unknown maker has left a clue, at the very bottom of the pot, a secret, intimate sign linking the maker and the user. The foot is an essential part of this pleasure as it contains the final piece of direct communication between the artist and the user of a pot.

When I was down at the ANU last week Micheal Keighry and I had a talk about form. I've been wrestling with the idea of footed or unfooted forms for some time. The footed forms place a pot firmly in a tradition creating a tension with the drawing which is abstract and contemporary. The small forms really work with a foot. As the pots get larger the foot stops raising the pot from the surface on which it sits in a dynamic way and starts drawing the eye towards itself in a a self-conscious near parody of traditional Japanese shapes. Why is this?

There is something I really love about footed bowls.  It is a potter's thing.  The foot on a thrown bowl talks about process and tradition.  There is a need for thrown bowls to be footed when they are decorated raw.  It is very difficult to turn unfooted bowls over in order to decorate near the bottom edge of the vessel.  A foot provides something for the potter to grab onto.  I also love how the foot adds an alert, exclaiming posture to the pot.  I feel that throwers are often asked to erase marks of making such as throwing lines, turning lines, feet.  The wheel is a humble, industrial machine from the lower echelons of the industrial spectrum, often signs of the craft of throwing are seen as a distraction or something inadvertent and ugly that should be erased.  For me the turned foot is a celebration of the thrower's skill, anyone who has ever thrown pots on a wheel knows the pleasure of a fine turned foot, it is a piece of communication between me and other throwers, an affirmation of my love for an underrated craft yet to fulfill it's creative potential.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Half moon vessels

Throwing large forms with half moon shape. The vessels are embedded with bushcombings in the throwing.
Bush combings are soaked in iron oxide and yellow glaze stain and thrown onto the pot after it has been pulled up twice.

*The half moons slumped during firing and are sitting very heavily on their bottoms. I like a pot that rises from the table. Analyzing Lucie Rie's shapes, her pots come off the table on a slight soft foot with a strong impulse upwards before bellying out.