Monday, 17 October 2011

Questions, questions...

What is it?

Well, I haven’t made it all yet but my starting point is a lovely belly bowl that came out of my last firing. It’s pleated with batik texture and then manganese highlights the detail. It’s about 18cm high and 25cm diameter. Sitting on its own it is a lovely piece that looks quite solid, heavy even. Lit up from inside the form explodes with translucency, the pattern becomes clearer and the whiteness of the naked internal clay draws you in. I wish there was some way of getting both views across in the exhibition. I’m hoping to solve that with the presence of a bottle form that I will not put a light in (although I admit I was tempted to find a way to).

I’m aiming at a couple of different size bowl forms, hopefully with lights, and a third piece that will provide a tie-in to an image I had published in the Journal, in the education pictorial survey edition in 2006 (44#2). That was a photo of some of my first pleated bottle forms. I think this will be an interesting platform to show how I have developed my pleating technique.

Why this for the show?

The show is an opportunity to showcase my newest work. This work and the show has strong links to where I began hand working the clay my own way at TAFE and subsequently my desire to get my work seen in the Journal and other ceramic magazines.

Interestingly, the Kerrie Lowe Gallery in Newtown have seen the photographs of my textured pleating on the PROmotion blog and have asked me to be part of an exhibition opening on 28th October. Their show is called Making Their Own Way and features 8 artists with their own style of clay work. This was a great opportunity that I couldn’t say no to; however I now have to make sure I don’t duplicate the work for PROmotion!

What are the challenges you face?

Getting the unfired work into the kiln without breaking it. It’s so very fragile that I hold my breath every time.

Supporting the bisqued work in the kiln when firing to stoneware. I usually sit my work in silica sand in a support form (yes, I’m very careful with it and use a mask). The work is so thin that if I don’t do this the base of my bowl forms flatten out. I’m finding the manganese is sticking to the sand on the main pressure points and it is time consuming grinding it smooth. I am looking into different ways of supporting the base of my bowls.

Limited lighting knowledge. If there are any electricians out there who would like to collaborate… to me!

What are the victories you experienced?

So far, the beauty of the manganese picking up the texture and pattern of the batik print; and the clay maintaining its translucency.

Where did the idea come from?

That’s a hard one. I’ve always mentally linked my pleating with fabric. I was making small pleated pieces for necklaces earlier this year and, for variety, pressed some of the pieces onto some texture blocks I had. The result was lovely and made me think of luscious brocade-like fabrics. Because of the extra depth in the texture, it has a heavy, thick look to it and yet the lightness of the work after firing is surprising.

What work preceded it?

I’ve been increasingly exploring lighting with the Southern Ice porcelain. My last table lamps that I made for the Kerrie Lowe Gallery were very exciting for me as I had previously only been able to make cylinder forms. However, they also left me wanting to find a way to light forms without a base.

Where will you go from here?

In terms of work I am evolving slowly and very subtly. I’m a slow thinker but when I have ideas I write them down or sketch them and, when I find the time, I look back on these ideas and try and act on them. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t.

In terms of selling I would like to get my work into a few good gallery shops that have a website representing their stocked artists.

I would also like to have a website up and running in the next 12 months.

Anything else?

My turn to ask a question. Can I change my mind on all this if it doesn’t work out?!


  1. Wow - you really have been thinking - and making - YEAH!

    Can you change your mind? Haha I guess that depends - do you mean change your mind and become a butcher?

    I've been off campus today, getting my forklift licence - thinking that I could give up the pottery game and become a stevedore (from the Spanish estivador apparently) - although I think maybe the name sounds more glamorous than the occupation??

    On a serious(er) note though - I wonder why do you see the bottle form unlit as an antidote to the lit up 'belly' bowl (tell me more about this form - I know it's fairly evocative but what does it mean to you?).

    Your comments re metallic finish (possibly in an earlier post) made me think of one of Lucie Rie's (god i love her work) copper and manganese glaze - comes up a really lovely bronze - almost gold - i could look up the percentages if you were interested.

  2. Love, love, love Lucie's work, Dee. Thank you for the heads up about her bronze. I've just looked it up and its 80 manganese/20 copper - I'll give it a go. I would love it to dribble down the top of my bottles...
    I borrowed the term belly bowl from Samantha Robinson who makes decorated bowls cast from her pregnant belly. My form isn't like hers actually, its rounder (more like my own form!) but I still want to hug it.
    I'm not sure how the bowls and bottle(s) are going to connect yet. I've got a vague picture in my head. We'll see.
    Estivador - meaning: a man who stuffs. Haha!

  3. Haha a man who stuffs - that's gold!

    Yes, Lucie Rie - what is it that makes her work so awesomely good? Have you seen the video on the V&A website of Alison Britton (another favourite) talking about a Lucy Rie

    There are heaps of other videos of a similar bent - well worth a look.

    Like I said in my first comment - the 'belly' descriptor is fairly evocative - i like that your version/usage of it refers to a different sort of belly - hey, there's an idea for a body of work - a 'belly' bowl to suit all shapes and sizes - a Gwyn Hansen Piggot style still life (am i the only person in the ceramics universe that finds them incredibly dull? Have I just been instantly excommunicated for saying so? Or have i merely proven myself to be laking in any taste or discernment? oh dear.) but with bellies - way cooler. Makes me think of the way people stand at the beach - on the edge of the water, hands on hips, bellies out...

    Hm, time for another coffee.

  4. I feel a beer belly series coming on... ;}