Wednesday, February 28, 2007

the times they are a changin'

3 years ago I was working away in my studio at Fusions Gallery when a Japanese fella with great hair wandered in. His name was Kenji Uranishi, and we’ve been sharing a studio ever since! He’d just moved over from Nara, Japan, where he ran his own ceramics studio, and now he is here to stay - which is lucky for me, because I can’t imagine working with anyone else!

It’s been a nomadic existence for us. One studio was demolished, another was relocated (without us!), and residency after residency has lapsed. We've gone from old churches, to old aircraft hangers to old museums! And sadly, this week our 1 year residency at the Sculptors Society is up. And until our next studio is ready (hopefully just a few months away!) we are going to join the many other artists and craftspeople in Brisvegas who work under their Queenslander houses. I have blisters on my hands after cleaning out the underneath of my house, painting floors and walls and dragging shelving and kilns and moulds and boxes all over the place trying to make it a workable space! It’s getting there!

We’re a little bit anxious! We’re so used to working together, to having company, to bouncing ideas off each other, working through technical hiccups, getting feedback and advice, having other artists drop in for a cuppa, or just hanging out and working in companionable silence. It will be very strange indeed working on my own!

Working from home does have its advantages and I’m excited about some aspects of it. It’s just that I like being part of a community, I like the energy and the dialogue and the collaboration and the exchange that comes with a shared studio. I know these things don’t have to centre only around studios, and can still happen in lots of other ways, but sometimes it can be difficult to maintain when everyone is so busy trying to eek a living out of what they do. In shared spaces it just happens!

We’ve received an incredible amount of support from so many people and organisations over the last few years, and I really don’t know how we could have continued working without them. So I just want to thank all those folks who have helped us out – Stephanie and Fusions, The QLD Sculptors Society and Mark, everyone at Southbank and Gateway Tafe, Rod, Joe, Scott, Ronelle, Jill, Darren, Ray….and of course, Kenji san! Thanking you all muchly!

In the meantime I will just enjoy the fact that I can work in my pyjamas now if I want, that I can run upstairs and have a quick nap while waiting for my moulds to dry if I feel like it, or that I can nip outside for a quick spot of gardening if the urge takes me!
Here's some pics of Kenji and his damn fine work!

(you can read more about him here and see more pics here). Kenji and I are also about to embark on a collaborative project that we’re very excited about! Details coming!

Monday, February 26, 2007

little miss sunshine

I’ve got this yellow thing going on lately. I keep making yellow things. It all started when Craft Victoria had their Yellow Christmas. I’d never made anything yellow in my life. Never wanted to. Never really liked yellow. But I thought I’d give it a go. Just out of curiosity. And now look at me. Yellow yellow yellow. I’ve even mixed up a big bucket of yellow slip. Now that’s a commitment to yellow. I looked up the psychological meaning of the colour yellow, and it seems it means everything from warmth, earthiness, happiness, cowardice, peace, death, danger, cheerfulness, trouble and strife and joy! Geez. I’m in for a big few months if this keeps up.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

A few of my favourite things...

Hella Jongerius embroidered tablecloth (above), and Lynda Draper ceramics (below)

Friday, February 23, 2007


Here’s a little sneak peak of some of the work I have in an exhibition coming up at the Museum of Brisbane. It’s called 20-20 and has been curated by Frank McBride as part of the 20th anniversary of the Churchie Emerging Art Prize, a Brisbane institution that has served as a jumping off point for so many Brisbane artists over the years, me included. Twenty artists making work that in some way responds to '20'. I can’t wait to see the results - from what I've heard there have been some pretty creative responses.

Given my little penchant for stories and archives, I decided to look at 3 generations of women in my family and what their lives were like at the age of 20. What I discovered was that each of us were carrying on our everyday lives against the backdrop of three different wars – the Second World War, the Vietnam War and the Gulf War. The impact of these wars on our daily lives was felt very differently by each of us, as over time the world changed and attitudes to war changed. But until I was prompted by this exhibition, I knew almost nothing of my mother’s and grandmother’s experiences of war.
There’s a lot in the public record about these wars, but it seems there is much less on the ways in which they affected women on a very daily level, the personal ways in which they reconciled their daily lives and daily routines with the lives lost and the distant battles being fought. So this work responds to some of those stories.

I was really surprised (and glad) by the fact that in the space of 60 short years the people who my grandmother saw as her country’s greatest enemy, are now amongst my best friends. But I was saddened (and not that surprised) by the fact that we human beings still don’t seem to have found better ways to deal with difference and resolve disputes.

The exhibition runs from March 23-July 15 and the opening event is April 19.

Monday, February 19, 2007

a holiday is as good as a change

Nothing beats just getting out of your own little world for a bit...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Pru Morrison

We’re off for a weekend jaunt to Sydney for the opening of ceramicist extraordinaire Pru Morrison’s exhibition at Ray Hughes Gallery. Super excited. Anyone in Sydney should definitely get along to this show. Hilarious, political and sometimes just a wee bit controversial Pru’s work is absolutely unique, engaging and multi-faceted! And from what I’ve heard the new work in this show is gonna be a cracker! I am a huge fan – of the work and the lady! There's a Meet the Artist at 3pm, Saturday Feb 17th. So, off to the bright lights and big city….!!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Put another log on the fire

Vipoo Srivilasa (via Graham Mercer) just forwarded me a link to this movie Kamataki that looks interesting, to say the least!! Kamataki means ‘firing the pottery’ and the movie is based around a young American chap who goes to Japan to stay with his estranged Japanese uncle after a family tragedy, only to have his inner fire rekindled by the flames of the anagama!! Curiouser and curiouser! It’s worth checking out the website for the soundtrack alone – it’s beautiful, and I can only imagine the visuals would be quite spectacular with an anagama firing central to the plot! It was filmed in Shigaraki and in the studio of the Japanese potter Shiho Kanzaki, and won a slew of awards in Canada.

Way back in the beginning I was an avid woodfirer! Hard to believe when you look at the kind of work I do now!! I still love the process, and a lot of the pots I collect are woodfired. I’m a sucker for it.

I’m going out on a real limb now and am going to post some pics of my first woodfired pots I made while I was a student…just remember this was almost ten years ago…!!

From this…..
to this….! crikey!

Here's a great documentary on woodfiring if anyone is interested. Lots of interviews with all the big names....Janet Mansfield, Chester Nealie, Jeff Shapiro, Owen Rye, Chuck Hindes, and my own awesome teachers Tony Nankervis and John Nealy...awwww...I'm getting all nostalgic now!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


A few days ago I received a letter in the mail from one of the staff at Object. It was just a letter updating me on a few things, but what was so lovely about it was that it was handwritten. It’s pretty rare these days to get something handwritten and it took me by surprise, and made my day! So I’ve decided to take a leaf out of her book and write the rest of this entry by hand.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Absence of Objects

I love libraries. I absolutely love them. I love the small community libraries that have story telling sessions for kids and displays of local treasures and old photographs of the area, and artworks from local schools and community groups up on the walls. I also love the BIG libraries, the multi-level libraries, housed in big old buildings, or often these days in sleek new modern ones. Every time I walk into a library I get butterflies in my belly (the same thing happens in bookshops, art galleries, art supply stores and fabric shops!). I always feel so overwhelmed by the sheer unfathomable amount of information in them. I spend a lot of time in libraries. Sometimes I go to research a specific thing for my work. Other times I just go and browse and graze and wander around and see what I stumble across. There’s always something weird and wonderful to be found amongst those shelves!

The thing I love most about libraries are the heritage collections. It’s amazing what you can find in those collections. Not just books, but objects and artworks and records of all kinds. I love nothing more than burying myself away in those dark rooms, where you have to wear the little white gloves, and poring over old manuscripts and diaries and photographs and records and documents, discovering stories or accounts or just simply evidence of peoples everyday lives. In some ways it is just a form of voyeurism, peeking into other people’s lives, the safe kind you can’t get busted for!! But it’s also about something else too. So often when we talk or think or make things about the past it is about remembering - what we remember, and the ways we remember. But what I find more fascinating is the forgetting, the process by which things get forgotten and how, in the absence of objects, whole lives and stories can just disappear. These collections fascinate me because they are little doorways into the past, little repositories of near-forgotten things, without which countless stories would have completely disappeared. detail from a work of mine titled "the absence of objects"