Monday, April 30, 2007

Cluck cluck cluck

This weekend I wore my Aunty Mel hat and spent the weekend with my four year old niece. She is the apple of my eye. I had been promising her a day in the studio for weeks, and we finally got around to it. I should have her trained up to do all my dirty work in no time! She was a natural! After a quick burl on the wheel she also proved a dab hand at slip casting and then got all crazy on the sculptures and made beautiful big blobs with knitting needles sticking out of them! Aaah…kiddies are so good at expressing themselves! It really is a marvel to watch.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

More play

Kenji and I were talking earlier this year about wanting to become a little more playful with our work. It’s so easy to take it all too seriously. It all becomes about meeting deadlines and rushing things through kilns, and all the other million things we have to do to keep afloat, that sometimes you can forget about the importance of just playing with a material and playing with ideas. So we decided that this year we would try to make sure we get a bit more play in there, a bit of experimentation, without it having to be FOR anything other than our own indulgence. Often this is where the best new ideas come from anyway. This Little People Project has become an outcome of that discussion.

We worry a little that we are too easily amused, as we roll about laughing at a miniature porcelain figure trapped under a slab of butter (see below), but it’s surprising the number of offshoot ideas we have had as a result of these (seemingly frivolous and immature) exercises, and the number of interesting conversations that have arisen about perception and interpretation and scale and everyday objects. This week we took them to our local supermarket. Things got a bit hairy in the dairy aisle, but after a panadol and a quick lie down he was feeling much better.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Image Transfer on Clay

I got a nice surprise in the mail yesterday! Although this book came out months ago, my copy seems to have been circling the earth for a while, but has finally landed on my doorstep. I felt a bit fancy as I flicked through its glossy pages and found my shiny little image!! (that's me on the bottom right). It’s called Image Transfer on Clay (sexy huh), and has all kinds of cool techniques for – you guessed it – transferring imagery onto clay.

Speaking of which, I’m knee deep in decals today – designing and cutting and pasting and sticking. Every now and then my dear sweet computer gets a bit tuckered out, a bit weary, and decides to kick back and take its sweet time….it’s sweet sweeeeeeeeeeet time….and it always seems to happen just after I’ve had my morning coffee and am wired and ready to go! Grrrr. It’s like a little orchestra here in my office, a soundtrack of impatience and frustration as I groan and whine, drumming my fingers on the desk, while the computer hums and huffs and puffs and creaks and beeps its way along. But I shouldn’t complain – there’s days when I feel like that too.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Human Wonderland

Kenji has just posted the latest adventures of our little people. You can check it out here.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Blue Bird Bowl

Another little experiment. While I was kiln-less and unable to fire any new work, I dragged out a few old pieces that were packed away in boxes or half finished, and played around with them - slip sliding decals, cutting and pasting, just experimenting really. I've been working with decals for a few years now, and so have quite a stash of them, lots of little snippets and leftover bits and bobs crammed and stuffed into folders and envelopes in a big disorganised mess! Sometimes I like to get all those snippets out and just play around with them to find a way to use them up. Waste not want not I always say.
(slipcast porcelain bowl with decals, 7cm x 9cm)

OOOPS!! Damn!! About 15 minutes after posting that blue bowl, the photographic backdrop it was sitting on came unstuck from the wall, slid to the ground and took my little blue bowl with it! Bummer...I liked that little piece! Oh well, something you just gotta get used to in this business! I learnt that very early on! Onwards and upwards!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

All Handmade

All Handmade Gallery is a beautiful little space in Waverley, Sydney. Helen Stephens, the gallery owner, has created a lovely ambience, where the sunlight streams in through the front window onto tables and shelves lined with handmade ceramics, and sometimes painting and textiles too. There are little drawers that hold a treasure trove of tiny works, and a wonderful and ever-changing selection of objects by Australian and international ceramicists. I'm part of an exhibition of jugs by 15 Australian based makers - Pru Venables, Patsy Hely, Gerry Wedd, Kenji Uranishi, Tony Warburton, Penny Smith and Louise Boscacci, to name a few - opening there next week. The show runs from April 24th until May 22nd, and the exhibition is being opened by architect Phillip Cox at 6pm April 24th. I won't be able to make it unfortunately, but hope some of you can!
(The image is one of the little jugs I made for this show, about 10cm tall, slipcast porcelain with decals).

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

I'm a machine

What a day. I’m feeling a bit dazed after hours and hours of sanding and glazing jug after jug after jug after wall tile after wall tile after plate after cup!! Aaaagh!!! I enjoy most of the processes of making, but some of them can be quite tedious and you really have to be in the mood!! Because I haven’t had a kiln for a while I’ve got mountains of work that needs firing, and I’ve had 2 whole uninterrupted days in the studio to tackle it! It’s been a bit daunting (I normally work with much smaller amounts!) but I went in gung ho today, on a mission to get it all done. Down into the dungeon I went, a bucket of water, wet and dry sandpaper, hairdryer (keeps things moving!), glaze and brushes, radio national, pot of tea and a stash of snacks to keep me going.

It can be quite meditative sometimes, repeating the process over and over again, concentrating for such long periods of time, getting lost in the motions. When I finish these kinds of days it feels like I’ve been underwater and have just come up for air. I get that slightly dazed and disoriented feeling you get when you go to the movies during the day and come out of the dark enveloping cinema into the unexpected daylight. Anyway, big firing tomorrow and I’m excited because I’ve gone from a micro-kiln shared between 3 people, to a huge spaceship all to myself. I can fire so much work ALL IN ONE GO!!! Seems like such a luxury! Makes me a bit nervous too…so much in one kiln. Fingers crossed all goes to plan….

Monday, April 16, 2007

Pins and Stitches

Two exhibitions, Object and Action: the mantra of the stitch and 50 Brooches have just opened at Craft QLD (on until 1st week of May). Loani Lee’s textile work (below) is just incredible – that woman has some serious patience – and the brooch show is full of beautiful and witty little creations by some very talented Australian jewellers. One of these talented folk is Anna Davern (aka the Davernator) who’s Lizzie and Phillip brooches (above) were the highlight of the show for me!

And while I’m on the topic of exhibitions, just a little reminder to anyone in Brisbane that the 20/20 exhibition opening is this Thursday night at the Museum of Brisbane from 6pm. Hope to see some of you there!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Tweet tweedly tweet

Is it any wonder I’m experimenting with colour lately when these little fellas chirp away in the tree outside my window all day? There’s a whole gang of them that flit around. I’ve named them Mike, Carol, Marcia, Greg, Jan… I’m a big fan of the Brady Bunch. Actually someone told me I looked like Carol Brady over the weekend. I wasn’t quite sure how to take that. My hair is very Carol Brady right now though I will admit. Hmmm…I’ve had too many coffees this morning. How did this bird and my hairstyle end up in the same post? Time to go do something else.

Learning to Drive

Well my kilns are finally connected and up and running after what seems like a never-ending series of mishaps and mix-ups. But it was worth the wait! They are little rippers!! I’m still finding my way around them, but so far so good. They fire fast….real fast…but being the impatient bunny that I am I think I’m ok about that! And even better….they cool fast! Now THAT’S what I like in a kiln! Anything to reduce the hours of waiting and nail biting! I feel like I’m learning to drive all over again (and anyone who was around when that happened might have good reason to be a little concerned….at least I can’t drive a kiln over a roundabout!). Each kiln has its own little way about it, and these two have so many unfamiliar switches and mechanisms that are new to me, but like driving a car, it all becomes second nature after a while. So as I’m firing I’m watching closely, taking notes, timing things, drawing little diagrams, monitoring cones….not. That’s probably what I should be doing but I’m afraid it’s more a case of turning it on, giving it a little pat on the side as I spin around and nip off to do five other things at once and hope for the best! It’ll aaaaaaaaalll be allright!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Change the colour of your day

When I was a kid there was a commercial on TV for a very yummy chocolate covered bar of honeycomb that just melted in your mouth. The commercial started off in black and white, grey and drab, but when the hip young things in seriously bad 80s outfits, with dubious dance moves and even worse hairstyles bit into the chocolate bar, everything turned bright and colourful, life was good…"change the color of your day" was the catchy jingle they sang. When Kenji’s little folk (pictured above, and about 5cm tall) came out of the kiln, this commercial from the eighties started playing in my head (a little worrying) and I was overcome by an incredible urge to change the colour of THEIR day. Kenji was very obliging so I whisked them away, pulled out my pile of decal scraps and dressed em up! They now sit next to my computer, and freak me out a little bit. They just seem totally confused in a blank robotic kind of way. We have a few adventures planned for them stay tuned!

Monday, April 2, 2007


I have a long standing love (obsession?) of maps, whether they are street directories or old geographical maps, mud maps or hastily scribbled directions on how to get somewhere. Maps can tell us so much more than simply where something is or how to get there. I first started using them in my work as part of the narrative, a way of placing the work or setting the scene. Over time I started to become really fascinated by the many other subtle associations and insights maps hold within their squiggly lines.

Maps can speak of the passing of time. Obviously, looking at maps of the same area over a long period of time will show you the physical development of an area. But the style and look of the map, the graphic qualities, the way it has been drawn and designed, the text used, the paper it is printed on, also gives you a sense of time passing. In subtle ways they can speak of technological developments, design and fashion, growth and destruction, and identity.

At exhibitions I’ve often seen people craning their necks and contorting themselves into strange positions to find their street on one of my map pieces. They get so excited when they find it, or when they recognise the area. It instantly gives them a different connection to the piece. Most of us identify with a place somewhere, sometime. They are deeply embedded in our sense of who we are, our individual and collective identities and stories.

Viva la map I say.

(6 maps of inner city Brisbane from 1863 until present)