Four of our best have been toiling away at Sturt in country NSW. Chris Weaver, Cheryl Lucas, Richard Parker and John Parker, as core members of the group who journeyed to central China in 2006 to make work for the Australasian Museum of Ceramics in Fuping – not far from Xian, travelled across The Ditch to meet with some of the Australian colleagues from that adventure. (Others from NZ for that trip were Mark Mitchell and myself).
Sturt is a long-established ceramics centre (once under the Directorship of our own Cam Hegan) where the Oz wood-firing penchant can have full reign. They have been there for three weeks now working alongside the Aussies, making, chopping wood, exchanging inter-ceramic dialogues, very possibly partying a little and generally preparing for the firing. All seemed to go particularly well and that large climbing kiln was stacked and, via a heroic, combined, cross-cultural effort, fired.
While the kiln cools, John sent me some images that I can share plus a number of small video clips of a little action here and there. (Leon Narby doesn’t have heaps to worry about). As soon as I have them I shall post images of the exhibition that is to be mounted of the results of this third follow-up to the Chinese mission.
Perhaps the most worthy-of-speculation part of this venture is the potential in the results. That mark of the fire…. John Parker’s sharply profiled, pristinely glazed, precisely arranged, linear works marked with ash and flame! Quelle horreur! For that matter, images of John, (Mister Electric for the 25+ years I’ve known him) toiling far into the night throwing logs into the business end of a long climbing kiln, is food for conjecture. Richard has wood-fired before but not, as far as I know, with his hand-built, hand-cut, quatrefoil-topped vase forms (as spotted in the images), usually completed with T’ang-style surfaces but which cannot survive Cone 13, so maybe reactively slipped? And Chris still has, as far as I know, a small wood kiln in his Hokitika backyard but that was for playtime, not the consummately inventive, articulated tableware he is so well-known for. As for Cheryl, I am sure I recall tales of wood-firing in the immediate post-student period, but these days, surface is as important as form within the fluidity of her inventive expression. She is as much a printmaker/painter as she is a maker/potter. So, we anticipate with interest.
All possess an inimitable way of putting things together which identifies their work as clearly as any signature of authorship. Their characteristic works with familiar contours and recognisable surfaces will have the latter element affected by ash and flame. How will this alter meaning I wonder? Meaning is different from intention. Intention is for makers to articulate. Makers are not in control of meaning – which is bestowed by others; constructed after the event of making by interpretation. This contextualises objects in relation to social, philosophical or historical attitudes and may even be reinterpreted over time. What might evidence by such a radical change of surface?
So, they unpack the kiln on Thursday (tomorrow) and set up the exhibition which will open at 11am on Sunday in Sturt Gallery. We’ll await the images with breath bated! Right now they are possibly sleeping or most probably partying on!
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