On Europe…

There are off-shore events and competitions you might like to consider. Here are a couple in Europe that will be happy to receive entries or attendances from Downunder if you’re prepared for the costs involved…

ITALY: One of their most prestigious galleries for ceramics is in Milan. Officine Saffi is only seven years old (2011) but very active and has gained a solid reputation for good shows and top level artists. They apparently host this international competition to find new talent for their gallery. They are funded by a ceramics materials manufacturer and also sell materials, rent out studio/workspace, offer residencies and have a publishing house that produces art catalogues and the quarterly magazine FRAGILE (www.fragilemagazine.it) They are called Officine Saffi and included in their stable are, Torbjorn Kvasbo, Anders Ruhwald, Ann van Hoey, Lucie Rie and Hans Coper to mention a few you might know, plus Jim Cooper exhibited there in 2016/17.

Prizes: Eur. 5000 each to Art and Design sections plus…

Residencies in the following places-

EKWC – Netherlands; Int Ceramics Centre – Sasama, Japan; Seinajoki – Finland; ICRC Guldagergaard, Denmark; Faenza – Italy, and Museum Mondari – Italy.

Plus – Cover Award and Article Award in FRAGILE Magazine.

The Jury, as you always get from Europe, is huge and comprises eight members headed this time by Felicity Aylieff from Royal College in London. Ranti Tjan who heads the EKWC is also on plus assorted designers and institution heads.

The competition details are…

OPEN TO ART Ceramics Award 3rd Edition

Deadline September 21st

Entry by 3 images of the work, plus CV, portfolio and written description. You may enter the art or the design section. Cost? 50Euro if over 35 and 35 Euro if under!

Further info at http://www.concorso@officinesaffi.com

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Then there is…

The European Ceramic Context 2018 will be held on the island of Bornholm, which is Danish but off the coast of Sweden in the Baltic Sea, between 15/09 and 11/11 this year. It happens once every four years. All interested in ceramics are welcome.

There are Masterclasses, a conference, many exhibitions and seminars for all levels. There will be studio visits, and artist’s talks plus workshops that intend to investigate current issues and enter discussions around ceramics, artistic development and theory, plus historic and ‘wild clay’ tours.

The two principal exhibitions are a main feature. One is ‘Open Call ‘ where curators, artist’s groups and individuals were invited to apply. Through this they hope to show collaborative works, experimental pieces and current activism etc. They received hundreds of applications for this category and have selected 51 to exhibit.

The other show is ‘CURATED’ curated by six curators who have nominated artists from their region Selection still to take place.

Bornholm is very beautiful.  I have seen it – houses and cottages are all lime-washed with yellow ochre or iron oxide-red colorants and most foliage is either a very dark or a silvery soft pale green – it all looks gorgeous. I can recommend the many galleries and antique shops while the art gallery, but a few years old, is breathtakingly contemporary with a minute stream running through the middle and enormous cows grazing in the fields outside!  Bornholm is a couple of hours by ferry from Malmo in Sweden. It’s in the Baltic Sea, with Finland, Russia, Poland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Sweden and Denmark all unseen but close. If you are going to be in Europe this September or October, maybe give it some thought. More information is available from www.europeanceramiccontext.com

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Musings…… on the current rash of award shows

Entries for The Portage Awards must be in by August 6th. So, just a bit over a week to go. I imagine kilns are warming up all over the place by now.  Usually by this time Te Uru have announced who is to be the sole judge.  However, we have had no announcement that I have seen. Seems Te Uru may have finally complied with our long-standing tradition of no judge named until after entries are in.  This was begun with the Fletcher Awards back in the 1970s and our single, secret jurying system stood us well for many years and was favourably received by entrants from overseas who enjoyed the integrity in the system, which was unique to us.  Like with the Fletcher, the Portage has employed jurists from off-shore following consultations of various sorts via a diversity of means.  Last time, in 2017, precedents were overturned by choosing the judge from within New Zealand and Emma Bugden did the honours. This time it could well be that we will again have a home-based juror because the published timing probably does not allow for an off-shore process. While entries must be received in a bit over a week, there is until October 27th for the finalists to be announced and then only until November 8th, less than two weeks, for the Award announcement evening itself. Compare that timing with how it used to be when jurors were drawn from far off-shore…  Or maybe we have gone back to Australia, which is easily accessible- but then we should probably save the fare and just take one from here as any Aussie worth his/her salt with the know-how to be the Portage juror is pretty aware of what is happening here. The exhibition will run until February next year.

There is a new player on the scene this year with the inaugural Emerging Practitioner in Clay Award at the Quartz Museum of Studio Ceramics in Whanganui. An event intended to be triannual. With a prize of $10,000 it will be judged by a jury of three – Rick Rudd, (whose concept this is,) Paul Rayner and Tom Seaman – two studio ceramists and a collector, all Whanganui based.  Those regarded as finalists will be announced any minute now and they have a couple of weeks to get their works transported to Whanganui. The announcement of the awards will take place Monday 24 September and the exhibition will run until the end of March next year. There is no mention of any opening event to celebrate this new award. Watch this space…

Just who or what constitutes an ’emerging practitioner” is not clarified. But if you see yourself as one, I hope you entered. The jurors will have your self-penned bio and decide if your assessment is, or is not, accurate and if they consider you have already emerged – you have to try for the Portage I guess. However, they ask for up to 20 works in printed image with just one of those works, identified by you, as the entry piece. That should inform most experienced jurors on where any emerging practitioner might be – and smart is any entrant who uses that condition fully and well. The work must have been made after June 2017, there’s no entry fee and no runner-up prizes. So, good luck to all who enter!

Then, even more… UKU Clay Hawkes Bay is a new national ceramic award to be held in the Hawkes Bay region (obviously, and as uku is Maori for clay that is not where the repetition ends!) This one, under the re-named Ceramics New Zealand, is to be biennial and entries for that close on August 31st. There is an entry fee of $25.00. Opening event for this award will be on 27th October at CAN Gallery in Napier and it runs, not for the whole summer but a bit under four weeks at November 21st.

There you go, three national competitions all closing and being judged in the latter part of the year- all requiring a single work (which of course might be more than one piece) and the show to have about 60 exhibits. All on exhibition at the same time of year. A traveller around the North Island could be excused for wondering….   Seems somewhat unthinking by the later events to have these juxtapositions but as Portage is annual, and the other two biannual and triannual I guess that gives them time to confer, rethink and readjust before the next agglutination of look-alike events. Conceivably someone who was unselected for the earliest could enter the same piece for the next and if still unsuccessful enter the third. Does that matter? Or enter identical works (or close to it – there’s plenty around) for each, win all three if the work is judged suitably wonderful.

I feel a bit like something from Doctor Seuss,  saying, “Oh the riches we shall see”!

 

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The Leading Ladies.

Leading Ladies is a historical ceramics exhibition currently at Te Uru in Titirangi. The Gallery invited me to curate a show of early women potters, in part as counterpoint to the generous numbers of male potter surveys and retrospectives prevalent in recent times. Fair enough, mid-century ceramics was very much a period of male dominance with the Anglo-oriental here, and everywhere it had a presence, also for Abstract Expressionist clay in the USA and the Sodeisha movement in Japan – all very male, all very mid-century. (Could have been something in the water perhaps?) However, as we called a chapter title in Cone Ten Down – ‘In the Beginning was Earthenware’. Indeed, prior to the Anglo-oriental era the earliest studio ceramics in this country were made by women. Although, there were some immigrant, industrially trained men who came to start, or work in, our infant clay industries, as early as the mid-1800s.

The pioneer women in the early 20thC had no books such as A Potters Book as guide but required to find out for themselves – often the hard way.  They dug and prepared their own clay and built their own kilns, firing initially with wood or coal and slowly learned and shared what they knew. Some went off-shore to learn more, others we know not how they acquired information. That there were a number is without doubt and there is a scattering of records in old pamphlets, newspapers and art catalogues telling us of their presence although we don’t always know their work.

My own search for suitable works for Te Uru’s exhibition was necessarily confined to private collectors in the Auckland area. There was little budget for distant research and while there are some great pieces in public collections most major galleries require six months notice for borrowing collection works and it’s really necessary to actually see and handle potential works for maximum information. You can guess how something was made from an image, but its heft can give definitive information.

While there was some activity in decorating cast forms produced, often by industry, in the early 20th C. I was concerned to source only hand made ceramics. I set about visiting the private collectors I knew such as our own John Parker who was a great supporter of both Briar Gardner and Olive Jones – the two Auckland based early potters. I knew other collectors and checked several out for their holdings and apart from Gardner and Jones saw works by Elizabeth Lissaman and Elizabeth Matheson as named potters. There are other works from perhaps around the early 1900s in some collections that have no provenance and dates and makers are unknown. Then I came across some new clay works that I had not seen before. But these had a name. They were by Minnie Frances White who had some reputation as a painter and a member of the Phoenix Group of post-Elam artists led by John Weeks. It transpired that she too made wheel thrown and decorated pieces, but also slab-built works in an Art Deco influenced style with abstract linear decoration in strong diagonals on sometimes dynamic planes. White’s work in clay was not known to me previously and this is the first NZ-made, contemporary, Deco-styled work I have seen. I assume that her Deco characteristics in richly coloured slips on those strongly planar forms could have derived from her extensive art schools training plus the on-going contact with practicing artists in Phoenix Group who were abreast of current trends like Art Deco which followed and is, in some ways, an extension of Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts styles.

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Minnie F White.

Anyway, hers were not the only fresh and interesting finds in the project. Elizabeth Lissaman’s fine 3D modelling of frogs and waterlilies on and around a dish, fitted perfectly with her slip and glaze painted decorations. She was, so it seemed most interested in applying her characteristic decorative designs to a range of forms that stayed modestly scaled and cleanly surfaced so as to better display her designs. She was, of all five women, clearly the one most interested in surface.

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Elizabeth Lissaman.

The other Elizabeth, Ms Matheson, not at all, as even with quite extensive searching I could find but one piece with sgraffito fish by way of surface embellishment. The remainder were quietly coated with single hues of glossy glaze and reliance upon clarity of function for their presence.

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Elizabeth Matheson.

Briar Gardner made, by far, the tallest works and viewing the film of her working, which accompanied the exhibition, her energy levels were impressive, especially considering she would have been in her fifties when the film was made. Whether shovelling coal or taking down the wicket, vigour was very much in evidence.

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Briar Gardner.

As for Olive Jones, without question she possessed the greatest range of skills. And so she should considering she had by far the longest and most wide-ranging training in ceramics. The show’s only cast works were hers, in finely modelled Maori canoe prows or female Grecian-mode figures – forming bookends, and they show how considerable was her expertise for she made every stage. There were two partially reduced, thrown, copper red vases that had been fired in saggars. Apparently their mixed red, green and black surfaces made them amongst her most sought-after work. Most impressive was the ‘Islamic lustre’ (so called because the potters of the Middle East famously used the technique with great finesse although it was around before the advent of Islam). Induced while the kiln is cooling or through a third firing it is sometimes known as ‘true lustre’ because it’s brought about via heavy reduction rather than bought in a tiny expensive bottle. Jones made a simple spherical vase glazed in ‘true’ copper lustre and despite being quite small, its surface positively glowed a soft melon pinkish-red colour.

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Olive Jones.

All was displayed, at eye level, on and in specially-made wall shelves and boxes. Putting such small works on a plinth or table-top seemed inappropriate as they were quite humble domestic pieces and not intended for a white cube display, as art. Never their intention. And they’d be lost on a table-top. The wall shelves, so I learned, are a very English (working class) mid 20th C. thing and mostly used for the display of household chattels, often ceramics. So that seemed very appropriate for their presentation. It was easy to view them – even advantageous for such unpretentious things; there was plenty to observe close-up.

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Olive Jones installation in process of being installed in her boxes. The tape is to clarify the scale of a pot yet to be placed. The two copper red vases are here as is the small copper lustre and the modelled figurative bookends.

To round off the display I added two portrait busts, by the Rayner Brothers of Whanganui. They played homage to these pioneers by modelling Elizabeth Lissaman and Briar Gardner. As they are possibly the first two, that’s fitting. Wish though that the Rayners had also done busts of Matheson and Jones but as these four were not necessarily the only pioneers we have, it would be difficult, I guess, to know when to stop…

The show opened a week or so prior to the Portage and comes to the end of its run on  January 28th  after being, apparently, quite popular viewing throughout the summer. Certainly I have received a number of emails and notes from people with lots of positive feedback and even been sent images of a couple of works asking if I can verify that these (imaged) pieces, in family keeping, have been made by some of these pioneer potters (they were indeed.) So maybe there will be some new additions to the auction rooms very soon.

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Springboarding from this project, there will be a Wikipedia Editathon on behalf of these pioneer potters of ours and followed ‘with a focus on female artists working with ceramics with the aim of improving the balance of artists represented online’. This will be hosted at Te Uru on…

SUNDAY 21st January (NEXT SUNDAY!) from 12 midday to 4pm

to be led by Courtney Johnston, Director of The Dowse Art Museum.

Courtney is experienced with Wikipedia projects having already overseen a project that created or enhanced more than 100 entries related to craft and craft arts to Wikipaedia already, so has considerable expertise in the area.

So, if you have a pet artist in our field you think deserves to be featured in Wikipedia, or would simply like to learn how this can be achieved for future reference, come along! Bring your laptop and any relevant research material. Or just your laptop as Te Uru will have research material on site anyway. Please go to Te Uru’s site for further information.  Absolutely worth doing! Great idea! See you there!

 

 

 

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The Festival and the Portage

 

The Phantasmagoria that was the Festival of Ceramics 2017 has run its course. At last. Many are still recovering from this Auckland wide celebration of things ceramic. There was so much to see, from the “Wow!” to the “Well done!” to the “Good effort!” to the “Oh dear…”. But it sure kept us all busy for more than a month.

It has grown considerably in this, its third year in to quite a significant event and while some former contributors disappeared, there were ample new ones. Tailored for most, from serious collectors to practitioners and new aficionados to children, the aim seemed to be something for everyone. And there was. From studio visits to guided walks, clinics for collectors to discussions and talks by artists and practitioners in solo or panel formats, firing and throwing opportunities and the principal arena of exhibitions at public and private dealer galleries through to opportunistic sales of work. It was not possible to see all that was available but regardless, with events now drawn to a close, many are just ceramic-ied out! However most of the principal exhibitions will be still showing throughout the summer, or at least until late January.

 

Main event was probably the 17th Portage Awards held at Te Uru in Titirangi. This year, for the first time, the juror was home-based in the form of Emma Bugden, formerly Senior Curator at The Dowse and currently living in Whanganui where she is editing and anthologising early copies of NZ Potter magazine. Bugden brings much of value to jurying this show including early qualifications in ceramics from Northland Polytechnic under the remarkable Geoff Wilson who, according to Emma, exhorted his students to throw pots in any colour, as long as they were brown! A broad arts education subsequently honed that basis followed by ample experience in the wide world of art but always with a fond eye on what was happening in ceramics. I opine, that in this time of considerable expansion in what ceramics can be, as seen in galleries around the world, and also reflected here, such enhancements to an early focus, are surely more than useful.

 

The concerned reverberations at the disturbance to the long-held principal of an international juror with no prior knowledge of our ceramics that was rattling around in ceramic circles were surely put firmly to bed once Bugden’s choices were displayed. Her show was lively, colourful and engaging.  Way more so than last year’s. At least in my view. And last year, while the juror was international, she knew NZ work pretty well and had been here several times previously. Going for an Australian juror is as unlikely to field an unfamiliar viewpoint as is one from here. Probably any Australian with enough background to be our juror will be well acquainted with our major national figures and informed on work from here. No, if we want that Fletcher anonymity we must extend the invitation further than across the Ditch. But possibly, that other unique custom we are noted for off-shore – our single juror – is sufficient? Multiple jurors is the standard in Europe and Asia at least. Or is the tradition, begun for the Fletcher Awards back in 1977, of a lone view from a distant shore and innocent of work from here so embedded that we reject any change? I’m interested in other’s views here. Letters to the Editor welcome.

 

Bugden met these issues head-on in her speeches and her catalogue statement by suggesting objectivity to be difficult whether the judge is drawn from locality or is the distanced international ‘coming in cold’. She added that anyone judging such a show exposes their own background and biases. So true. We all bring baggage to looking. However, while Bugden agreed that within the entrants were people she had worked with and that she held her own prejudices and preconceptions, she also found names and work unknown previously that gave her that jolt of recognition that can be almost physical to a knowing eye.

Bugden revealed, with her winning choices, that she had concerns for craftsmanship and interest in what is fresh and new as well as regard for the established. Not many could argue that list. Her choices of Premier Award and other awards follow…

 

Amanda Shanley : Colouring In       Merit

A still life moment from the dinner table with dark green scribbles maintaining an ingenuous demeanour. Shanley

 

Cheryl Lucas : Milkstock.   Merit.

A series of milk bearing vessels and thoughts of cows and their effects upon this land and its waters. Lucas

 

John Parker ; Uncut PenetrationMerit

Well practiced, virtuoso design elements of industrial derivation and uncharted intent. Parker

 

Andrea du Chatenier : Untitled (Yellow Stack)  Residency

A collapse of cylindrical linearity into a vividly chromatic, seemingly unstable pile made immutable by globs of implausible feldspathic fluidity. du Chatenier (2)

 

Richard Stratton : Forced Turn Teapot  Premier Award

A brutalist teapot mired in history by its colour and the eclecticism of its sources; its cylindrical origins dislocated and reassembled with an eye for where shadows can add intrigue and addenda offer playfulness.Stratton

 

It was a broad and beguiling show that contained repeats of themes we have viewed previously – some still maintaining the freshness generated when first seen; echoes of the highly textured gloopy glazed effects currently seen as ‘hot’ in the concrete canyons of New York; intriguing techniques that invited curiosity, some staggeringly accomplished work particularly from immigrant artists that can only bring fresh interest to a small scene and unorthodox approaches from artists trained in other disciplines.

 

There were other works that made my particular fires glow. Some of them took me a return to the show to fully appreciate….quiet excellence can take time.

Madeleine Child’s Pretty Boys – her ‘Splendids’ in glowing cadmium yellow, wall-perched on an assortment of kiln furniture and spoilers, rivalled du Chatenier’s collapsed stack in radiance and most else in the show for insouciance. Child

Philip Jarvis’s audacious plastic bags of clay. Difference. Not trying, not trying at all yet getting there anyway. With ease. Jarvis

Jinho Jeong bringing an Asian technical dexterity and precision to wonder at and admire. Jeong (2)

Judith by Jacquelyn Greenbank intrigued. Too small to be neck adornment it still carried the corporeal in the fleshy hue of the silk tassels and the fact that they seemed intent to clasp their bony hoops around a neck. Holofernes neck perhaps? Greenbank

From Tony Bond’s slippery slopes with their distant resonances of the very first Portage Premier Award to new work from Kate Fitzharris and Paul Maseyk – a wood kiln indeed(!) there was lots to look at and think about. Maseyk

The catalogue just gets better each year. Always the commissioned essay is a welcome addition to the few texts in the field and useful historically (look how many refer back in their own contribution) and excellent images, plus subtle upgrades in design. But now, finally, the artist’s statements are catching up fast – are they being edited by a bit? A lot? (Very probably in some cases…) Regularly a cause of complaint from me, from whence has this generalised boost to literacy suddenly appeared? Who would refuse such an upgrade if offered? And, take a look at the bios…once sturdy and worthy they now transfer an almost jocular air in places along with their increased concision. All welcome additions indeed. Well done Te Uru!

The show runs to February 11th.

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Betty Woodman 1930-2018

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Woodman in studio, early 2000s

The great Betty Woodman died a couple of days ago at age 87. Part of the Pattern and Decoration movement which was a reaction to the prevailing abstraction – and particularly the abstraction manifested in the work of Voulkos and his followers- Woodman, while not overtly a feminist artist, joined a coterie of mainly female artists who celebrated ready-made patterning and design elements as part of their work and dropped temperatures from reduced stoneware to oxidised earthenware. She said,  “It was a macho scene, a man’s world. Being a woman it was not easy to achieve recognition”. However, Woodman received notice early, particularly for her Pillow Pitchers – two closed off cylinders joined end to end and placed horizontally as basis  and in the manner of T’ang pouring vessels, then added a central neck and spout that could be decidedly Islamic and surface decoration derived from Persian ceramics and other eclectic sources. These hybrid pots were some of the first that combined various elements of ceramic history in single works. They were something entirely new at the time and they underscored her career. She did not stop there however, she continued to extend her parameters and her sources in painting and ceramic history while looking at various countries’ distinctive additions and styles and utilising these in new ways to produce something fresh. Japan, Mexico, Korea and particularly Italy were subjects for her distinctive gaze and she held shows in major museums and public galleries all over the world.

She is the only living woman to have received a retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and also the only one (male or female) to have done this as a ceramic artist. (Rie and Coper had a sizeable show of work there early in the ‘90s but that was posthumous). Of that show the, could be acidic, critic for New Yorker, Peter Scheldahl, in a rapturous review called Woodman, “…beyond original, all the way to sui generis”.

We were very aware of her work here in NZ and twice I was instructed to be in contact with her to come as Juror for the Fletcher Challenge Awards. However they (she and husband George – a painter who died last year) had homes and studios in Colorado, New York and Tuscany and they split their year between those places.  After the second long telephone call we agreed I should not bother her any more as she would rather spend May in Tuscany than in New Zealand!

I saw large scale shows of her work in Geneva where the subject was the decorative arts of Japan, and in Faenza where she was guest artist for the Biennale and riffing off their impressive and vast collection of majolica. Both times it was a surprise once there and both times the work stopped me in my tracks. Relaxed, almost careless in their acceptance of cracks and twists in slab backgrounds they were exuberant, colourful and sumptuously rich in detail of applied painting alongside surprising and elegant ways to display work partly affixed to a wall or as a feature in a large rectangular painted composition. Her use of majolica techniques was vivacious and lush with every flowing brush-ful necessary to the whole. Twisting, snaking, expresive handles, positive upon negative, 2D upon 3D, trays of squishily Baroque elaboration, ceramic pots with ceramic shadows upon ceramic shelves, ceramic flowers in ceramic vases, exploded drawings of pots of flowers and always the pillow pitchers and their variations upon some national trope and their quotations around necks, handles and pouring devices…   I recall being struck by the absolute confidence of every aspect from assemblage of vessel and slabs to surface embellishment. It is great work, constantly developed and re-figured over some sixty + years.  Endlessly inventive while being endlessly self-referential. There was a film showing her at work in her NY studio at Wellington City Gallery some years ago, that I watched several times, (see image above) but I forget in relation to what it was on.  She was absolutely a one-off and a great artist in any genre.

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Pillow Pitcher

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2D/3D

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2D and 3D

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Wall mural

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2D 2.5D and 3D

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Japanese imagery

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Wall mural

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Whanganui Double.

Two new pieces of News for the New Year! (and both out of Whanganui…)

New Zealand Potter: A partial archive.

Published by Small Bore Books and edited by Emma Bugden, this anthology of extracts from the first ten years of the New Zealand Potter magazine covers Emma’s selection of the most significant contributions to the pottery scene, via its only publication, from 1958, when it was beginning to fizz, through to 1967, when things had built up a considerable head of steam, (to use Brickells phrase), and potters and their work were making their mark as a new culture, with a public and in the broader art world.

Emma has divided the compilation into themes, or areas of activity if you like. First is A Call to Arms  where positions are staked out and action called for. Then, Being Here documents the community and includes profiles on makers and galleries. Coming Here covers some of the distinguished visitors to our community. Going There covers travelogues sent to the editor by potters off-shore and finally, Doing It is a reflection on the vital-at-the-time practical side of the magazine offering advice and experience from some of the pioneers.

This compilation offers a broad range of contributors, in addition to the potters themselves, and reflects a variety of views upon the nascent scene from the censorious to the complimentary. The participants in the organising committee and their roles are acknowledged as are the major contributors of opinion – for in those days opinion was freely given and often robustly stated. It delves into some questions around influences from off-shore and the resultant values that might last as well as issues around what might constitute a New Zealand style. It covers areas of commentary that are now largely absent from our contemporary scene. Healthy stuff!

The collection gives a good overview of how the early years of our pottery culture was reported and discussed via its magazine and oracle.

It is simply presented in A4 format with perfect binding and a cover design that reflects the times of its origins – as it should.  It makes an enormously useful addition to the bookshelf for anyone interested in the pottery movement. I’m sure the editor is currently enjoying a well-earned rest in the sun somewhere but copies will be available from… www.smallborebooks.com in due course, or stockists are….

Unity Books (Ak and Wellington)
Women’s Bookshop (Ak)
Parsons Library Services (Ak and national)
Te Uru (Ak)
The Dowse Shop (Wellington)
Quartz Museum of Studio Ceramics (Whanganui)

 

 

The other new item from Whanganui is news of a competition for  an “emergent practitioner in clay” to be run by the Rick Rudd Foundation and held at his Quartz Museum of Ceramics in Whanganui, and called…

THE QUARTZ AWARD

 And the award is 10,000 dollars, to be conferred triennially. 

Looking at the entry form and accompanying information the purpose is “to encourage, foster and promote excellence by makers of studio ceramics in all forms from tableware to sculpture and from traditional to avant-garde”.

Entry is a little different than usual in that it must be in the format of  printed images of up to 20 works and up to five extra images of details may be added for clarity. Additionally a USB stick containing those images is also required. Of those twenty works ONE must be identified as the work intended for exhibition and its dimensions, medium and title. Entrants are also to submit a biography/CV and a statement on their work. All works to be for sale made and they will deduct 25% commission. It is acquisitive. No entry fee.

The work must have been made after 30 June 2017 and entry date is June 30 2018.

Judgement will be made by the Trustees of the Foundation – Rick Rudd, Paul Rayner (artist and gallerist) and Tom Seaman (collector).

There are a set of conditions, all perfectly reasonable and information can be obtained by email from quartz.award@gmail.com or by telephone at 06/3485555.

Now here’s an interesting development indeed and good on Rick and his team for instigating this new event.  Ten thousand dollars will be a more than useful boost to anyone “yet to achieve widespread recognition in ceramics within NZ or overseas”, (as the information says), and presumably invest in their career, (although no criteria in this regard are offered – again, generous).

One could ask what is emergent? (Internationally it usually means someone within ten years of obtaining their last qualification in the field, but that’s a hard one for NZ for obvious educational reasons).

And what is “widespread recognition”?  Won a prize in a competition or two? Exhibited regionally or nationally? Articles in ceramic journals sourced internationally? Or nationally? Images in the local paper? A facebook page or personal website?

And recognised by whom? (The public? The ceramic community or the wider world of art such as the collections of public institutions?)

I have asked these questions and, as you’d expect, there are no easy answers. I am told, “Trustees have deliberately made the eligibility non-specific.   Hopefully entrants will make their own judgement whether they have ‘achieved widespread national or overseas recognition’, ie have they exhibited regularly in regional and / or national exhibitions?  Is their work recognised internationally? Entrants are expected to provide an artists biography, and the Trustees will decide from the bios if the practitioners have emerged or not”

Well, there’s a small handful whose work would be recognised in Oz but that’s probably about all as far as international recognition is concerned. We simply do not have the means to generate the sort of critical article that would promote those artists we do have with international potential. Establishing an international reputation as a maker of note requires sustained work by a range of writers in a variety of reputable journals and media plus acceptance/prizes in international exhibitions and competitions of note. Not simple. And anyway, to what benefit for an artist living here, at the bottom of the map?

No matter, the Quartz Trustees will decide whether someone qualifies as an emergent contender ”from the bios”. The exhibition that takes place will be at the Quartz Museum in Whanganui and will hold roughly 50 works so I imagine a major priority will be to put together the best show possible as it’s on at Quartz for some months. Entrants can put together their own bio and for the Quartz competition that is considered sufficient.

So, the very best of luck to all who consider themselves still emerging towards recognition. The Quartz Award will be a great step.

 

 

 

 

 

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A New Cup

Here is an image of a couple of cups bought in LA a month or two ago. It’s by Peter Shire who was the American representative in the original Memphis Group and who has a workshop in Los Angeles with his own coffee machine. His baseline product are these cups, slab built walls and base with one of a choice of three handles (stamped slab) and an infinite range of glaze effects – no two the same! It seems somewhat clunky but is as easy to use as my Ross Mitchell Anyon cups and that unwieldy-looking handle functions very comfortably and balances hot contents just fine. The cup’s looks belie its functionality. It’s a great cup.

cup-pic.jpg

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