More on the Portage events…

Just posted is Te Uru Gallery’s calendar of events for the Portage Awards occasion. See their website or Facebook page for details.

After two years of construction, and many more years planning, the Lopdell Precinct is now complete with the addition of Te Uru, the new, purpose-built gallery building that now sits proudly alongside the refurbished Lopdell House. The gallery opens to the public on Saturday 1 November at 10am with a full day of activities and tours throughout the precinct, and more talks and events on Sunday 2 November.

Following are the names of those pre-selected for the show. So far, all has been done electronically and the judge will make a final call with actual works on his arrival in NZ on 24th/25th before he has contact with any practitioners. He goes to Nelson for a break and a workshop on 26th, returning to Auckland on 31st for the opening of his exhibition on 1st Nov.

Congratulations to everyone whose work has been chosen for pre-selection by this year’s judge:  Brendan Adams, Graham Ambrose, Greg Barron, Elise Bishop, Blue Black, Cameron Blaisdell, Renee Boyd, Kelvin Bradford, Linda Bruce, Christine Caisineau, Frank Checketts, Madeleine Child, Jon Clarke, Julie Collis, Peter Collis, Anna Crichton, Julie Cromwell, Richard Doughty, Todd Douglas, Andrea du Chatenier, Sam Duckor-Jones, Suzy Dünser, Suzanne Emslie, Penny Ericson, Liz Fea, Kate Fitzharris, Mel Ford, Ema Frost, Janeen Greig, Mia Hamilton, Peter Henderson, Fiona Henderson, Charade Honey, Gary Horton, Chuck Joseph, Louis Kittleson, Peter Lange, John Lawrence, Simon Leong, Paul Maseyk, Jane McCulla, Lynda McNamara, Tatyanna Meharry, Liz Mertens, Marion Mewburn, Danny Moorwood, Tanja Nola, Jo-Anne Raill, Elena Renker, Louise Rive, Sara Scott, Arem See, Amanda Shanley, Dave Sharp, Rebecca Shawyer, Duncan Shearer, Sang Sool Shim & Keum Sun Lee, Nadine Spalter, Jeff Stack, Anthea Stayt, Janna van Hasselt, Ann Verdcourt, Chris Weaver, Merilyn Wiseman and Helen Yau. 

 

Phone 817 8087 to purchase tickets to the awards night. Tickets are $40, which includes an exhibition catalogue and the earliest opportunity to purchase an award-winning work.

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Coming soon…. This Year’s Portage Events

More activities are being added to the events surrounding the Portage Awards. These are worth noting so that, where necessary, some advance bookings might be secured – go Grabaseat!

There will be some special events in the days leading up to the Portage event to celebrate the opening of Titirangi’s new Gallery –Te Uru: Waitakere Gallery of Contemporary Art. The opening of the exhibition by the judge, Takeshi Yasuda, (Japan, England, China) for those intent on seeing and acquiring, will be on Saturday 1st November. Te Uru (next to what was formerly Lopdell House Gallery), Titirangi. Time to be announced once known. Watch this space…

The Opening of the Portage exhibition is the evening of Thursday, November 6th. I think tickets are necessary. Please contact the gallery.

Friday 7th – a Pot-Luck at 14 Sheridan Lane, Freemans Bay so the ceramics community has opportunity to talk informally with Takeshi. Ample parking at the entrance to the street is possible in the early evening. (School teachers use the space until about 4-30 but after that a park can usually be secured). Please bring a contribution towards a shared meal. All very welcome. 6-30/7pm onwards. It won’t be a late night as it is full-on the following day.

The itinerary is as follows….

Saturday 8th November        Clay O’Clock: Auckland Festival of Ceramics – co-ordinated by Henry Davidson. A trip by taxi van or possibly one’s own car around a variety of exhibitions in the ceramics field. Cost not yet posted. The van will be easiest.

9-30am. Start at NorthArt, Norman King Square, Northcote. Claytime: An exhibition of artists making Ceramics, curated by Chika Lim, post graduate student at University of Auckland. Presumably your chance to see what ‘artists’ are making and firing (?) in clay and a clay show ‘curated’ ( but usually what is really meant is ‘selected’) as folk working in ceramics (artists or otherwise,) are hardly thick on the ground so a curatorial process is a difficult proposition..

11 am. Te Uru Gallery, Titirangi. Takeshi will be walking and talking through the Portage show with various of the winners and artists present.

1pm. Masterworks, now to be found at 71 Upper Queen Street and NOT on Ponsonby Road. John Roy and Bronwynne Cornish – presumably not in the same exhibition…. Light lunch and juice supplied.

2pm -2-30. Objectspace, top of Ponsonby Road. Window works by Virginia Leonard.

3-3-30pm. FHE Galleries Kitchener St., Emily Siddell – glass and clay

3-45-4-15. Anna Miles Gallery, Richard Stratton.

4-30. Jason Books, books on ceramics and pottery on display in Shortland Street window.

5pm. Opening at Gus Fisher Gallery, Shortland Street – Bronwynne Cornish’s long-awaited retrospective, MUDLARK, comes to Auckland from its inception in Hawkes Bay. Speeches 5-15 (Alexa Johnson)

6pm. Taxi vans return people to their cars parked at NorthArt. Have a lie down.

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Sunday 9th. Takeshi will give a demonstration workshop at the ASP. For bookings contact the ASP directly. Charge of $30.

Takeshi leaves for China next day.

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Many will be aware that I was recently off-shore on a variety of ceramic purposes at a variety of ceramic events. I’ll post on these as soon as possible…. Need to draw breath first…

 

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A MINGEI PATTERNED SHIRT

For the sartorially challenged yet fiscally endowed wondering what on earth they can wear to the next Portage opening so as to stand out in the crowd…here is the perfect shirt! It’s on a male site (sent in by Finn) yet seems to button up the girl’s way so it’s ambidextrous as to gender.

One puzzlement though, those medieval jugs are European rather than Mingei. The Japanese did not use jugs traditionally, as far as I understand. Think it was Leach who appraised the Far East to their qualities but then, Hamada, as well as being a chair collector, may also have taken a few back with him when he returned from England in the early/mid-‘1920s.  One thing is for sure, Yanagi – that old nationalist/imperialist would be considerably disturbed in his resting place to see them described as ‘Mingei‘.

But as Finn says… wonder which collection these are taken from?
For other views go to…

http://www.endclothing.com/catalog/product/view/id/214245/s/gitman-vintage-mingei-shirt/category/75/

11-07-2014_gitmanvintage_mingeishirt_beige_1

 

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photography and pots

For those wanting to add to knowledge about photographing an object or two (read pots) there is a workshop at Objectspace next Saturday.
While this this is with Polaroid, it is the lighting that needs to be learned. Lighting is the essence of making an intelligible entry for a competition like Portage or some off-shore competition, or the ASP annual for that matter. For a gold coin donation it is worth spending an hour or two.
Just remember that a Still Life is a construct and a judge/juror for a competition will need to clearly view profile. Just concentrate on the lighting techniques….

19 July 2pm-4pm
Object of still life. Artist Janet Lilo will help you make your own still life composition and capture the still life on film. You’ll be working with a Polaroid camera, creating photographs that you can take away with you as a keepsake. No need to book, just turn up on the day with a gold coin donation. Objectspace, Ponsonby, Auckland

If anyone attends – be pleased to have comments.

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TWO RECENT SHOWS

The Front Room is literally that and Brendan and Catherine Adams have made theirs into a fine space for displaying ceramics in suburban Point Chevalier. They don’t exhibit all the time as the gallery is principally a retail spot for their own work, but every so often they extend an invitation for an exhibition of some work they like and are happy to show.

This is the case for the current exhibition by Suzy Dunser. Called Constructed Memories it comprises a range of vessels for domestic use – teapots, pitchers and other pouring vessels, storage jars, bakers, but sadly, no coffee mugs. Based upon precedent forms constructed from metal sheet – oil cans, milk churns, buckets, tubs etc and carry the characteristics associated with those forms – wide, assertively looped strappy handles, generously broad or beaky pouring lips, extended, straight or curved spouts and articulations where metal would have been folded and joined. The forms are immediately familiar; not in a contemporary way but redolent with memories of Dad under the bonnet of the car in those pre-electronic everything days or washing being carried outside in a tin tub to a rotary clothes hoist near the lemon tree. It’s a show packed with nostalgia in a number of ways but principally for the haptic knowledge that those proportions and apparent construction arouse in the fingers. We know what those objects will feel like and how they will heft.

The elephant in the room here of course, is that this is territory that the UK’s Walter Keeler has explored in depth, developing his oeuvre over more than fifty years. He even sent some here as Fletcher entries in the ‘80s (wonder where they are these days?) Keeler’s were highly original and idiosyncratic objects of joints and junctions that moved British domestic ceramics away from the organic throwing associated with Bernard Leach and opened up new reserves, particularly historical, from which to draw whether those were metal forms from early-mid 20thC. or 18thC. industrial production by Staffordshire’s Thomas Wheildon. Keeler’s current production continues with both strands and even evidences an occasional cross-reference. The earthenware Wheildon pieces allow baroque extensions and lavish glaze effects but his equal devotion to articulation and the austerity of a strong form has meant those tin-sourced work’s surfaces have been largely restricted to fine salt glaze in sombre, and often uniform, slate greys, inky blues and warm browns.

Dunser’s forms extend and thrust straight upward, rather than the stately set-back upper part that many of Keeler’s pouring vessels carry where they seem to be rearing back almost and scrutinising the observer in return. Dunser’s forms however introduce a medley of surface not so evident with Keeler’s (which we here see mainly in reproduction of course). She saved work for this, her first solo show, for about a year and has experimented with surfaces to great effect using a variety of treatments: buff stoneware, or white stoneware and porcelain, with flashing slip, salt-fired in a diesel kiln; porcelain with flashing slip, wood and soda-fired; white stoneware and porcelain glazed and fired in an electric kiln and porcelain with copper carbonate wedged into the clay – some with partially glazed areas, wood and soda-fired. These have produced a range of surfaces beguiling in their diversity, and some perhaps unrepeatable. These ‘gifts of the kiln’ seem most in evidence when made from porcelain and soda- fired in a kiln carrying copper-bearing clays – the resultant fortuitous flashing animating vividly both smooth sides and odd joinings while the fluid glaze gathers on articulations producing further intensifications of colour.   Contrasting this, others offer an unrelieved white, salted surface that places all emphasis on form and demand the most sprightly configurations to be really effective.  Teapots are a potter’s recurrent challenge. Getting all elements – the body, lid, spout and handle – to visually work together and function well is demanding and Dunser has worked on the form for a while with some success. For this show she had the added hurdle of complying with her chosen parameters of forms based upon those of metal but it was teapots that were the original concept. As her statement explains, she spotted an oil-can and ‘it seemed like a teapot waiting to happen’, so she obliged. Most teapots in the show are a delight for she generally gets the necessary low centre of gravity spot-on so that they balance well when pouring. One or two carried a bit of extra weight that will be felt when full of hot fluid but the majority are both pleasing to the eye as well as filling functional requirements admirably, as the red stickers attested. Finding a good teapot is challenging and potters, who made up the majority of those at the opening, know a good one when they see one.  This is a confident and satisfying first exhibition with plenty to offer and we can look forward to the next gathering of her work and development of her oeuvre.

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CLAY CARPET The other exhibition of new work recently opened is also functional but this work’s function is to make bicycling or walking across one of west Auckland ’s new footbridges – this one is cross-motorway- a more engaging and enjoyable experience and succeeds admirably. Kate and Matt McLean have been working on this project, on and off, for some four and a half years. It was interrupted, after they had contracted for it, by the transition from Waitakere City to Auckland’s super city and the resultant change in bureaucracy and re-regulation of conditions meant a hiatus of some extended time. However, it’s now completed and what a great project it is! It is part of a series that has continued in West Auckland for a number of years. Virginia King, John Edgar and John Lyall have all made foot bridges in different locations around what used to be Waitakere City; it was one of the city’s successful periodic projects. There may be more I am unaware of and it’s not yet clear whether the new management processes for public arts that now prevail in the greater Auckland City will continue the projects. Kate and Matt’s is the furthest away but recognisably theirs as both bicycle everywhere and present as ferociously fit!  The forms they have made and decorated reflect their personal interests as well as their thoughtful study and groundwork. Taking a number of research trips by bicycle around the area Matt was struck when looking down at the motorway’s construction process where huge diggers and bull-dozers had laid bare long strips of the area’s massive deposits of pale clay, parts of which had tire tracks from the enormous earth moving machinery. Matt has previously made a pair of massive tiles that displayed rhythms of bicycle tracks across curved clay surfaces. Impressive and handsome at one and the same time, they reflected the personal and signified one of clay’s unique characteristics. These fine works received Commendation in the Fletcher Challenge Ceramic Awards and were subsequently bought for the collection of the Dowse Art Museum after Matt was subject of an extensive one-man survey exhibition there in 1997. The connection was there, as west Auckland’s earliest industry was manufacturing pipes and drainage tiles using the rich deposits of earthenware beneath its impoverished farming land.  Using the tyre imprints as recurrent motif Kate and Matt made impressions into a range of clays using a variety of tyres as well as retrieving sections of local clay that had been marked as part of the motorway excavation and building process. Beside the steps that climb to the bridge, the forms they made surge and billow their way down the hill. It’s rather like a rumpled up carpet near the bottom of some stairs. This ‘carpet’ is illustrated in ways that offer insights into the locality, as carpets historically have been used to impart narratives. The silk-screened imagery relates to the bridge’s location and function- maps and weather patterns, shadow patterns from bicycle wheels, telegraph poles and their linear suspensions. Installation has seen small gaps planted with erigeron (a type of daisy) that in time will clump, soften edges and reassert nature amongst the representations of the technical and man-made. On the bridge proper, on either side of the walking /bicycling section, are angled lines of tiles, less rugged than the forms enclosing the steps but still bearing textures and imagery relating to the uses to which the graceful, gloriously chrome-yellow bridge will be put.  A grand illustration for the expanded field that is possible in ceramics, it’s a unique and successful project; a work of ground art that required thoughtful considerations and processing of ideas. The scale suggests that space must have been an issue and require logical and probably uniquely individual answers to the variety of construction conundrums that occurred. Being the McLeans they were considered and resolved one-by-one although they could not see the project in its totality until all was finally installed. If you are out west one time and are on the Upper Harbour Motorway, you will drive beneath. But that way you’ll only see the flash of yellow bridge. So, head for Hobsonville and take a look at the footbridge at the end of Clark’s Lane, named for the family that first made pipes and drains for other farmers from what was their annoyingly unproductive, sticky sub-soil. It’s worth the very small effort and detour required and you can arrive there in your car – you don’t have to go on a bicycle!

 The Bridge

The Bridge

Matt installing tiles

Matt installing tiles

The tiles on the bridge

The tiles on the bridge

The tiles on the bridge

The tiles on the bridge

 Looking down the steps from entrance to the bridge

Looking down the steps from entrance to the bridge

More beside the steps

More beside the steps

And more…

And more…

details of forms

details of forms

details of forms

details of forms

 

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What’s on AT OBJECTSPACE and other stuff

Entering Objectspace last Friday, one could be forgiven for thinking a mistake had been made and instead you were in any old white cube downtown. Greeted by walls clustered together at angles at room’s centre, walking around revealed paintings, photography, etchings and prints by six artists, one of them Australian, but not an object except what was represented on a flat surface with four corners.

A quick return to the entrance so as to check, and reassurance is there in the small window gallery space that reveals Kate Fitzharris’s contemplative clay tableau of kneeling figure and chain of pearls in full three dimensions – of which more later. But yes, this was Objectspace.

Perhaps in advance defence of hoisted petards or to ward off slings and arrows, (to use a couple of handy aphorisms) Objectspace Director, Philip Clark, in his opening speech led by asking what the hell were wall images doing in that space and immediately followed such use with mention of a precedent exhibition some years earlier where images of jewellery in photography were mounted. We forgave them once. He continued by quoting from the gallery’s stated purpose ‘…to provoke new assessments about works and practices’ but where was the first part of that statement which positioned those works and practices ‘in the fields of craft, applied arts and design’?

Invited to open the exhibition, gallerist Anna Miles also remarked upon the ‘perturbing spectre that is an Objectspace emptied of objects’ and quoted from New York Times arts columnist, Roberta Smith who wrote, in a piece about an exhibition called Bringing the World Into the World at Queens Museum, about ‘curatorial and artistic fashions’ where works display ‘a disdain for aesthetic decision making’ and she drew contrasts with the aesthetic decision making she was accustomed to observing in Objectspace exhibitions. Miles might also have quoted from another part of that ‘stinging’ review where Smith wrote of the Queens’ show being an ‘intermittently rewarding if ambition challenged exhibition’. The hard fact is that no matter how aspiring the curatorial intent, if sector depth from which to draw is largely absent, curatorial ambition is futile.

The underlying problem and root cause is that most fields Objectspace was set up to service have been steadily eroded over the past two decades. With the exception of jewellery, tertiary training in craft and applied arts has all but disappeared. The remaining vestiges stagger and will also similarly vanish unless respect for the accumulated expertise, haptic knowledge, rich culture and vibrant histories is supported by our principal funding body, as Education has abandoned these fields as too costly, space-greedy and unfashionable (despite, finally, some acknowledgement of ceramic’s revival and employ as ‘the new black’ or even ‘the new video’ – by fine arts and questioned, way back in 2011, by the same Roberta Smith – but let’s not go there for now!)

Creative New Zealand cannot save the situation by itself but can fund initiatives that hold promise and advocate on behalf of these attenuated areas. As Anna Miles remarked, The consequences of a loss of opportunities for assembling the skills and knowledge associated with object making have repercussions that reach well beyond the extinction of these specific practices’.

Which brings me to the mention of Kate Fitzharris’s small installation at the entrance to Objectspace as the only current representation of craft practice in the building. Her unfired clay figure survived the trip up from Dunedin and sits, as her smaller figures do, composed and serenely awaiting… what? This current work, The Stillness of Movement, is a further step in what she has been steadily developing over the past fifteen or so years. During that time her work has always been figurative, and small in scale with resonances of human/animal, domestic/wild and incorporating found materials that engendered intimacy with histories and place. Three years ago she made an exhibition for a Dunedin art space where she incorporated into a clay and wax matrix, found items gathered along the walk between her home and the gallery and made a long string of beads as narrative for that journey. For this current show she again incorporated items gathered on a long walk – cow hair, lichens, seeds and bark – along with wax and local clay, for another ‘string of pearls’ that hovers around the figure as connector with locus. Two years ago she attended a workshop by major figurative artist, Akio Takamori, a Japanese/American who was a guest at the Australian ceramics conference in Adelaide. This has encouraged the increase in scale we see for the first time, although the serene, almost receptive bearing accompanied by domestic objects – in this case a jug – and meditative ambiance the installation offers, continues. A clay skull hangs at the figure’s neck surrounded by dried lichens gathered on the walk and the face markings with white clay suggest ritual so is the jug for sacraments? Or simply signifier for something more intimate? While the core remains constant her articulation deepens as she musters various resources, steadily building a unique oeuvre that intimates a subjective credo around life.

Fitzharris is part of the last sizeable bunch of graduates capable of being in a group show of emergent ceramic artists. For that 2002 exhibition, at Lopdell House Gallery and touring to Hawkes Bay Exhibition Centre, more than 60 applied – most having graduated over the previous ten years – and eighteen were accepted into, of Heralds and Harbingers. Those artists included, besides Fitzharris, Richard Stratton, John Roy, Katherine Smythe, Lauren Winstone, Paul Maseyk, Robert Rapson, Rob Cloughly, Michael Tannock, Brian Staite, Nicola McLaren, Vincent Forster and Dixie Tunnicliff. Most of these derived from the Otago Polytechnic ceramics course where they were taught by USA/Alfred graduate, Bruce Dehnert and are still practicing in some way, with some off-shore, and form our youngest and newest substantial group of exhibiting ceramics-trained artists. The sad fact is most were born around the early>mid-70s, and there are few behind them making up the rear echelons that are necessary to give impetus. The almost complete collapse of tertiary education for applied arts in all but jewellery means that there is the odd graduate who might break through into exhibiting in public spaces or white cube ranks but basically, curators have a challenging task finding an exhibition premise for more than a sole artist that is not historical, industrial or a re-visit in some way. No matter how good the idea, there have to be artists working in a way that can fit the concept and thus make a show, or they must have received sufficient training to be able to adapt to a suggested premise. Neither has been the case for a long time. Ceramics simply no longer has the depth it once could take for granted. We have to hope that the current review for Craft/Object making, by CNZ, can result in offering artists something else that might advance their work. If something is not done very soon, to use anther aphorism, the situation can only be likened to turkeys awaiting Christmas.

 

Kate Fitzharris at Objectspace. The Stillness of Movement. Installation (unfired clay, mixed media)

Kate Fitzharris at Objectspace. The Stillness of Movement. Installation (unfired clay, mixed media)

Kate Fitzharris, The Stillness of Movement. detail.

Kate Fitzharris, The Stillness of Movement. detail.

 

 

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URGENT ATTENTION, a little thinking and some fast work required!

Creative New Zealand are currently surveying the Craft and Object Arts sector and are looking for responses to a questionnaire that results from a review carried out earlier this year. For those who have concerns with advocacy policies or funding processes (or lack thereof) or have interest in any other functions such as international residencies, grants, art fairs etc whether currently available or you wish they were, you have opportunity to be a participant and responder.

There is a document first where CNZ lay out what they currently do and what changes they propose to make. It’s long at 30 pages but not difficult and all is laid out for your perusal. This is followed by the online questionnaire where you can respond to the proposed changes – most is simply ticking boxes. But importantly, there is ample space where you can offer your own thoughts on this.

As far as I know, this is the first time CNZ have gone to the sector in this way in order to formulate policy. Here is your opportunity to have a say and lay out your own thoughts on and to our principal advocacy and funding body.

You can provide your views by:

  • completing the online questionnaire
  • sending CNZ an email
  • sending CNZ your written comments by mail

The deadline for replies is 5pm on Wednesday 25 June 2014.

Your responses will inform CNZ’s recommendations to the Arts Council. Publication of final reports will be in August and approved recommendations will be implemented from January 2015.

Go to CNZs website and check out REVIEW OF CRAFT AND OBJECT ART. Or, the mailing address is….

Creative New Zealand

PO Box 3806

Wellington, Wgn 6140

New Zealand

 

So, if you’d love the sort of opportunities the jewellers currently receive, are fed up at repeated grant applications being turned down, would like workshops by the world’s best, wish to see your work in the Basel Art Fair or simply like a symposium in your back yard so you can listen to trained views or get advice on what it is you do… here is the opportunity you have been waiting for! Sorry about the short notice but I was under the impression all or most already knew about this and only just discovered that’s not so!

Notice is short but nothing like a deadline looming to concentrate the focus!

For those internetly challenged….
Go to…
www.creativenz.govt.nz/ and below the moving images you will see…
Latest News and Blog Posts
The top info is headed… Creative NZ’s reviews of craft/object and visual arts
Click on the words in BLUE that says…Read more 
Voila, a new page opens giving you much the same information and under the heading… How Do You Contribute To The Reviews? Click on Craft and Object Art – also in BLUE…
Go for it!

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