Fancy an easy access residency in the centre of Europe? No hoops to jump through and little by way of selection process.
The International Ceramics Studio in Kecskemet,Hungary is situated in a small central town some 80kms from Budapest. Formed more than 40 years ago it is romantically situated in a cluster of former former cloister buildings behind high stone walls. Originally set up to facilitate between East and West it now does much the same job as many pottery centres here by providing excellent facilities and expertise in various ways (Herend porcelain and firing to 1400C if desired), plus a supportive atmosphere so people can realise some creativity in ceramic. A big difference is that it is also residential so you live on the job, sleep in spartan sparkling quarters and eat communally with other artists. English is the lingua franca despite it being in the middle of the Puszta and one can work alongside artists from many places – Kecskemet serves as a centre for international exchange. The town, five minutes down the road, is an interesting place to stroll with amazing Baroque churches and concert halls and antique shops and buildings which use ceramics in ways unseen here. Budapest is an hour away and a great place for visits with some fine museums and galleries, music venues, clubs and a lively town centre. The Ceramics Studio itself also houses Hungary’s richest collection of ceramics, international in origin as every symposium artist leaves a work towards this. It is possible to not only see, but get to handle works from some very famous names and discover artists never before heard of sometimes from places previously unheard of. As far as I know only Christine Thacker is included in the collection from New Zealand. There are 3400+ works sourced from 45 countries and regions and they sometimes mount internationally touring shows from there, but which never get this far.
A residency there is possible via various means. You can go as an individual or as a group of artists or students. This way you pay a fee to attend, as you would classes here. Costs cover accommodation, teaching, use of equipment – much particularly specialised, and materials. Hungary is generally inexpensive. They run two or three symposia each year around a theme. Attendance at these is by invitation and the invitation comes by a. you can apply to be a part once you know you fit the theme, b. their knowing your work, either by your having attended for a residency period or by your work being featured in magazines and journals sufficiently so they understand what and why your work comes about. Its sometimes possible to be there on-site while the symposia is running.
They run Master Classes taught by various international experts at regular intervals – this next year will be classes on wood-fire effects in fast-fire kilns, Creative throwing and soda glaze, paper clay techniques , sculptural throwing and figurative mould-making.
Two symposia already scheduled for 2012 are: ‘Desire’ and ‘Paperclay 11’. Recently there have been ‘North/South’ and ‘East/West’ plus ‘Women in Clay’, ‘Iconography’ and ‘Smokeless Wood-fire’. So the range is wide.