TALKFEST   JULY 4th evening and July 5th day.

Talkfests don’t seem to be of great interest to the ceramic community. There seems to be some view that it’s nothing to do with ceramics/clay/pottery and discussion is a waste of time. While potters love their get-togethers, they are often more around things convivial, or alternative ways of building a fire-box, rather than being involved in discourses about new movements, fresh thinking to re-vivify the field or philosophies around awards events – the how and the why and what it might inject into the field.

Objectspace has run these mid-winter talk-fests for several years now. Each time with an international guest as focus. A few years ago we had a Scots curator, then it was the Director of The Jam Factory in Adelaide and last year the founder and Director of an influential jewellery gallery in San Francisco, but whoever comes, the events and talks have been wide-ranging and invariably interesting although some more so than others depending on your orientation I guess.

Only problem was that the ceramics community has been conspicuous by its absence. Not one potter showed up and I suppose it might be that they did not know about it. So here is this year’s offering.

Friday Evening, 6-45pm at Auckland Museum…. PECHA KUCHA night.

If you’ve never experienced Pecha Kucha it’s more than time you did. Last week I attended Pecha Kucha’s 40th occasion at Q Theatre, in praise (mainly) of photography. This event at Auckland Museum is in praise of the crafts. Basically, each presenter gets 6 minutes 40 seconds to talk to 20 slides of….?… (their work and how it links to the world of objects/craft/design or whatever turns them on) and each slide is pre-set to show for exactly 20 seconds each. It’s rapid fire stuff with no chance for lengthy explanations, repetition, or boredom setting in! It’s not possible to say a lot in 20 seconds so honing and preparation is the key. It can be a hugely enjoyable occasion. Take a gold coin along.

If you have interest in presenting your work to a greater audience than you usually enjoy, you too might be a part. So send a short description of your proposed presentation to … by June 16 to be included. And then come along as the crafts, as they currently are here in Enzed, get an airing.

Saturday July 5th at Auckland Museum again

11am Keynote address by this year’s guest, Benjamin Lignel – furniture maker, jeweller, editor of Art Jewelry Forum, curator and member of Think-Tank. Ben is from France but I met him when in Austria and his English is perfect and his writing, in English is too, as well as making you think! Don’t expect it to be too academic though – he is a fine speaker.

He is addressing the tensions between the singular and the generic – an issue that affects the full spectrum of crafts (think about all those rows of coffee mugs and the ceramic one-off and their respective valences)and at the end of the time he will debate with Damian Skinner some of the questions and points that have arisen. This is the sort of dialogue we should have at regular intervals and I anticipate that it will be a pleasure to listen to – so mark the date.

After lunch at 1pm will be a session by Pauline Bern – senior jeweller and long term teacher at Unitec talking about objects of the Museum’s collection that have underwritten her own unique practice and she will be joined by Finn McCahon Jones – known to many ASP members as a fellow student at the centre and he is also Assistant Curator at Auckland Museum and he will address the language of materials found in Auckland Museum’s collection – so you can expect a good cover of ceramics there.

This will be followed by Warwick Freeman and Karl Fritsch– jewellers who curated a show of NZ contemporary jewellery for Munich this year called Wunderumma and the thinking behind their decisions.

Maybe we’ll get some inkling as to why jewellery seems to currently garner the lion’s share of available funding.

Then from 2-30 pm all focus should be on ceramics for the rest of the afternoon.

First up I am talking about the Critical Article, what it is and what we should expect from an exhibition review at regular intervals…   and why… But it’s just short ….

Then at 3pm Linda Tyler (Director of Gus Fisher Gallery) monitors a panel of makers of the ‘new ceramics’ as they form part of the increasing encroachment by artists with fine arts training of various sorts. They get the chance to talk about their whys and whats and scrutinise why Roberta Smith, New York Times arts critic, asked ( back in 2011 ) ‘Are ceramics the new Video?. This was in reference to the then apparent proliferation of artists, without much by way of formal ceramics training, who were exhibiting objects made from (sometimes barely) fired clay in white cube galleries in New York City’s Chelsea district and asking surprising prices for something some ceramists would consider conferring to the slop bin before it got anywhere near a kiln. Roberta Smith has always been a staunch supporter of ceramics and taken an active interest ever since Garth Clark opened his gallery in New York City. She proved knowledgeable and, at times, pungent on the subject. This practice, via the Chelsea galleries, has now moved below the equator and we see ceramics’ presence in places that previously would not have allowed it across the doorstep. This will last about an hour and you, the audience, will get a chance to ask your own questions at the end.

Finally we have, at 4pm, Andrew Clifford, Director of what was called Lopdell House Gallery and now, when in its new building next door to the former space, Te Uru. It will have five (specially configured – not adapted) spaces for exhibitions and our Portage Awards show will be among the first up. We can learn of the plans for programming for the gallery, which has traditionally been a home to ceramics because of west Auckland’s history with ceramic production of many sorts – from early drainage pipes to Crown Lynn to abundant studio practices – and longer term plans perhaps for The Portage event which currently holds the major position in the ceramics calendar.

Right at the end will be space to bring up your own issues and comments.

So, July 4th and 5th – there are not many opportunities like this for a broad examination of your field.

Objectspace gets support from CNZ for this event – it’s your tax money spent towards your benefit. Might be good to show CNZ that the clay world does indeed have some interest in discourses around the field and is not as isolationist as, at times, it can appear.


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