Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sifting and Sorting

home-ing pigeon, slipcast porcelain, 21cm

All this new work I keep rambling on about is for a solo show I am having later this year (July) at Jan Manton Art, here in Brisvegas. I am way ahead of myself and for once am not going to be pulling hot pieces out of the kiln a day before the opening. In fact, I am MONTHS ahead of myself and have almost finished the whole show! There is a very good reason for my weird and miraculous state of organisation, but I will tell you about that another time.

I am lucky enough to have the super duper freelance writer and art critic for The Australian, Louise Martin-Chew, writing the essay for my catalogue, and spent a lovely morning with her yesterday looking at and talking about the work. It’s the first time I’ve really shown anyone outside of my immediate circle, so I must admit I was a little nervous! It’s always a little scary when you first put new things out there. I was also curious to see what would come out of my mouth in talking about the work, because although I’ve chatted to oodles of people about bits and pieces of it, this was the first time I had really sat down and comprehensively spoken about what was behind it all – which to be honest has only really just started to become clear. It was fantastic to sit down with someone for a few hours and just mull it all over, having someone fire questions at me, inquiring about this, giving their own interpretations and readings about that. I find that process of talking (or sometimes writing) about my work incredibly useful in sifting through the myriad influences and ideas that float around while you’re making it all. It really helps me to clarify things, and also raises lots of new questions to pursue. In my bygone days of shared studios these kinds of conversations happened a lot more in the natural course of the studio environment, but working from home, and mostly alone (violins playing in the background now) they are fewer and farther between. So opportunities like yesterday, especially with people like Louise, are damn great!

Then I spent the rest of the afternoon in a mad frenzy of inspired decal design! I’m rolling with this inspired phase while it lasts!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Mistaken Identity

Some of the new work I’m making at the moment is based on some research I’ve been doing into the Second World War (thus the guns), and some of the experiences of my family during that time. I was talking to my Dad about it recently and he told me a great story that is too good not to share.

My grandfather was shot in the leg during the Milne Bay campaign in Papua New Guinea and was sent home for a few months to recuperate, during which time my dear old dad was conceived. Unfortunately, just before he was due to be born they sent my Grandfather right back there. A telegram was sent off not long after to let him know that his son had arrived and mum and baby were A-OK. However, along with our own Lieutenant Colonel Robson, there happened to also be a Captain Robson serving in PNG at the time, and the telegram was mistakenly sent to him! He was a bit surprised to receive a telegram telling him his wife had just given birth to a healthy baby boy… especially when he hadn't actually been home in over a year!!! Apparently he requested leave immediately and hightailed it home before they realised it had been sent to the wrong man! Oops!

(That handsome fella above is my Grandad! )


Ky Curran , slipcast beakers, decals

I recieved a very nice present from local ceramicist and girl-about-town Ky Curran over the weekend. I'd been eyeing these little babies off in at Artisan recently (gun love), and now they're mine....aaaallllll mine.....woohoohaaaahaaaa. Thanks Ky!!

The real trouble is that I'm starting to run out of shelf space in my house!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Patsy Hely

Those of you lucky enough to be in Sydney over the next month best pop along to see Patsy Hely's show at Helen Stephens Gallery, which opened last week. Alas and alack I was stuck up here in Brisvegas and missed all the fun! Patsy is one of Australia's finest if you ask me, so make sure you get over and have a look. It's on until March 31st. A good excuse to also have a look at the new Helen Stephens (All Handmade) Gallery.

(image above: Patsy Hely, 'Noisy Miner Jug', slipcast porcelain, china paint, photo by Michel Brouet)

Friday, February 15, 2008

On The Trail

Well I’ve been on the research trail today. It’s the first bright sunny day we’ve had in a while, and I went and spent it all in dark rooms with artificial lighting! I’m knee deep in research for the Ipswich Houses Project at the moment (which is coming along swimmingly) and with the help of the poet Thomas Shapcott himself, I have just unearthed a minefield of material.

I arrived at the Fryer Library at the University of QLD (after negotiating a course through a 2km stream of medical students in very bizarre theatre attire) to find a stack of archive boxes ready and waiting for me. I tell ya, librarians are the BEST! The first box I went through was filled with Thomas Shapcott’s beautiful poetry, original typed copies on old thin typing paper with lovely handwritten scribbles all over them, some very poignant poems, a selection of amusing personal correspondences, and some hilarious parodies hidden away in the back!
One box down, 56 to go…..geez!! Hopefully those helpful librarians will be able to track down the one other thing I’m looking for without me having to pore through ALL those boxes!!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Virginia Jones

Virginia Jones is another top shelf Australian ceramicist. She’s also an old friend, and an old teacher of mine. Last week she brought over some of her new work (above and below) which I was so taken with I just had to share them with you!
A lot of Ginny’s works are ephemeral outdoor installations using unfired clay, as well as lots of other interesting materials such as bamboo, beans, toothpicks and plaster! She often leaves them out to interact with the environment in which they’ve been made, documenting the process and the impact of the cycles of nature on the work. She’s also a clever little woodfirer and makes super functional pieces as well. A fine all-rounder!
These pieces are a little more permanent than usual, part of a larger installation that will be showing at Metro Arts later this year, and then hopefully some of them are coming to live with me…! You can see some more of Ginny’s work here and here.

Ebb and Flow

Well not much blogging of late. I have lots of deadlines looming and I’m jumping from one project to another in the studio, with my head in a bit of a spin! But somehow I seem to be making progress! Its 5am in the morning as I write this, and for some strange reason I am awake, alert and raring to go. I have been on FIRE in the studio the last couple of weeks, with new work and new ideas flowing out faster than I can make them or scribble them down. Oooooh I love these phases! The ebb and flow of inspiration and the process of making new work is always intriguing to me. Sometimes it feels like pulling teeth, like nothing is ever going to come together, and then suddenly things fall into place, one piece or one idea can be the key to open the floodgates. The down times are all part of the process I guess…bit by bit, trying and sifting and playing and discarding and breaking (oh always breaking!) and adding and building and rebuilding. For me developing and making new work is about finding the balance between discipline and play. It’s about persevering when you might not necessarily feel like it, recognising when you need to walk away for a while, and trying not to take it all too seriously. It’s a hard balance to get right!

No pics of the new stuff yet tho... still playing…and persevering…and trying not to take it all too seriously!