Stratton’s View from Denmark

Richard is now in Guldagergaard, (pronounced Gooliagoor or something pretty similar) which is in the town on Skaelskor – a harbour town on the south west coast of the biggest island of Denmark, about four hours by road from Copenhagen. Skaelskor faces the mainland part of Denmark that’s joined on to Germany these days.

Richard won the Residency at Guldagergaard from then judge, Paul Scott, two Portage Awards ago. We set it up sitting in my back yard when Paul was here and we were talking about what might benefit NZ ceramic practices. After discussing and making a case for the advantages that come from residencies and such exchanges, Paul simply telephoned Guldagergaard (he is a regular teacher there) and bingo, one residency to add to the rewards of entering the Portage – if you’re lucky. Stratton was our first winner but last year he could not go so its availability lapsed for the last competition. I went there again last year and it was reinstituted and it will figure in the prizes again for this year’s Portage.

Finally Richard is there. Guldagergaard is set in a beautiful park that is steadily becoming bedecked with large scale outdoor ceramic sculpture made by former residents. The studios and kilns etc are in the former stables there. The entire complex was once a grand estate. Here is Richard’s image… taken from the front steps of the residence and office building toward the old stables.

stratton writ and image

His notes…

Well it has been over a week since I exited the train after a twelve hour journey from Germany, no Kroner in my pocket and pulling a 50 kg case behind me.

Since this time I have assimilated into an Artist in Residence at Guldagergaard.

Guldagergaard is based in a small township of Skaelskor, about a 15 minute bus ride south of Slagelse as the crow flies.

When you start here, life becomes a bit surreal, you live, eat and work at Guldagergaard, along with other visiting artists and the studio assistants. The latter can usually outnumber the artists.

A usual day consists of starting at 9am and breakfast, then all day studio work till 7pm, break to eat a communal dinner, then back to work or watch a movie.

As you can imagine, the work that you make drives your studio time. One thing is that you have to bring almost everything in the way of tools, with you as well as an Ipod or something similar as everybody uses one in the studio.

Regarding the setup: Kilns of all types and sizes and the plaster room is fully functional with extractor fans and lathes. There are technicians and staff to help you with those new techniques that you are wanting to try, from print to 3d printer.

This place pulls you out of your comfort zone which is a good thing. Here you cannot just run to the local pottery supplier to peruse the shelves for that perfect stain. It’s all Ebay and online and not cheap.

This leads to a sort of dazed, what am I doing here? kind of thing but the feeling only lasts a couple of days.

I have heard stories of other residents not leaving the premises for a month, only stepping out to the local supermarket for their supplies when it is their turn to cook. Residents take turns to supply and cook dinner so that cross cultural eating takes place and you can also get a taste of ‘home’. Skaelskor is not known for its night life.

The other artists, assistants and staff make this place what it is. They become your network and family.

My studio partner and housemate is Justin Novak from America, he is leaving this week for another residency in Rome but he is a regular here at Guldagergaard as I am sure I will be as well.

So, we’ll look forward to another billet-doux from Denmark in due course – maybe with more pictures and see what work he, and others there , are doing.

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