Author Archives: moyraelliott

Another Competition…

This one is a major though. It’s the LOEWE Foundation Craft Prize. LOEWE is a Spanish high-end leather goods manufacturer which began as a craft cooperative in 1846 and now being run by its fifth generation.  They have provided a private Cultural Foundation since 1988 which supports creative, educational and heritage programmes in the fields of poetry, dance, photography, art and craft. One of their primary functions is to support design and craftsmanship and, since 2016 they have offered a competitive, annual, Craft Prize to celebrate excellence and craftsmanship that aims to set a standard for the future. Artists in areas of applied art such as ceramics, bookbinding, enamelwork, lacquer, glass, jewellery, metal, wood, paper or textiles etc are invited to enter.

The prize for the winning entry is Euros 50,000 (over NZ$91,000 ) and along with other finalists be featured in a catalogue and exhibitions in Loewe galleries in major cities around the world. The judging and initial exhibition will take place in Tokyo, Japan. Entries may be single works or a series – understood as a number of objects considered as a single artistic creation.

They state, in this search for excellence in craftsmanship,  ”Craft artists who leave their individual imprint on their work dig into the quicksands of art and claim the chance of making trades flourish once again, recycling and not forgetting the past. The LOEWE FOUNDATION aims to recognise outstanding works that show artistic vision and innovation, and which reflect the personal language and distinct hand of their maker. The LOEWE FOUNDATION aims to support artistic craft and acknowledge leading artisans from around the world at the forefront of their fields. The winning work should reinterpret tradition to make it relevant now and demonstrate the continuing valuable contribution to the culture of our time.”    So,  it seems they seek a contemporary, innovative version of the traditional that acknowledges its history somehow…

As you’d expect with a European based event, entry process is a tad complicated. Two to five good images or film of the entry, a portfolio showing up to five other works from the maker’s career,  CV information with short biography, a brief conceptual statement, copy of passport or ID document.

Initial judgement will be from images and by a panel of nine experts consisting representatives of LOEWE  and museums and magazines featuring Craft, plus expert makers of high reputation. Following this initial decision the resultant 15-30 finalists are notified and the selected works will be sent to Japan for the final decision by another, different panel of eleven experts. This panel is somewhat different in that the only artist involved is the previous year’s winner (Jennifer Lee – ceramist, U.K., was winner for 2017) The remainder are Heads of Museums and Arts Trusts, well-known designers and architects and representatives of LOEWE. All organisation and costs of transport to Japan plus insurances are covered by LOEWE. Winners are also taken to Japan at LOEWE’s expense and as their guests.

 

Time is short this year as entry must be made by end of October. Initial judgement will be made in January and finalist’s works to be in Japan by April 1, 2019. Decisions announced in May, 2019. However it’s not impossible if you have good work on hand plus good images of earlier work.  Entry fee not required. There is a heap of information about copyright issues for both entrants and to protect LOEWE, plus, clearly, LOEWE intend to control all press information.                                                                                            Obviously you need to be confident  about your work and CV but if so this seems aimed at being one of, if not the, world’s major competitions for craft media as other European events reduce in presence or have narrow constituent aims and some Asian competitions are either implicated in discredited practices while others simply do not offer access to international press and resultant prestige for finalists. Much more information can be gained from https://craftprize.loewe.com or www.loewe.com or www.blogfundacionloewe.es or https://craftprize.loewe.com/en/faq

It would be great to see a Kiwi among the finalists.

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Robyn Stewart – 1938-2018.

One of Robyn’s large semi-enclosed pieces that are, perhaps, her signature works. This one, 52cm dia. x 14cm h., is finished in burnished and matte surfaced style.

robyn_stewart_waiwera_n_z

 

Robyn Stewart came to clay in the mid-70s, like many others of the time, after another career. She learned some basics from Pat Perrin and Margaret Milne knowing she was moving, with family, to a Northland farm where there was ample earthenware clay beneath the thin crust of topsoil. She wanted a creative outlet while there and it was while she was attending classes with Margaret Milne that the students were shown a film about the Native American pueblo potter, Maria Martinez, from the San Ildefonso pueblo near Santa Fe in New Mexico. In it Martinez demonstrated her re-making of traditional vessels –something that had faded in vigour due to the advent of enamelled tin pots and jars well suited for cooking and uses for ceremonial vessels reduced as the culture declined. Martinez led a revival that economically revitalised not only her own San Ildefonso Pueblo but, along with Nampeyo from the Hopi tribal group, did much to restore cultural values in several tribal areas by identifying and pioneering a route to economic independence through making pots in traditional styles. This activity generated toward Santa Fe becoming the second most valuable art market in the USA. Maria Martinez’s method of leavening the clay with sand, coiling, burnishing and dung firing (loosely covered with discarded vehicle number plates) immediately struck Robyn as a perfect methodology for her intended activities on that Northland farm.

She experimented and after about eighteen months of failures where improvements came frustratingly slowly she succeeded in producing some small, charming, burnished vessels with Maori designs that she continued to expand into a considerable oeuvre over the course of her lifetime of potting. She was never tempted to join the ranks of domestic ware makers – dominant at the time. Within NZ she pioneered burnished vessel forms and experimented boldly with scale, form and decoration. Early on she went to a Northland Polytech Summer School where she met Manos Nathan who had returned to his marae from the UK in response to a call from his seniors. He, a design graduate, was wanted for carving and worked at Matatina learning from Mauri Marsden. Nathan had books brought back by his father who had been with the party that went to the USA as part of the Te Maori exhibition that toured to several main centres. The books were on traditional Southwest potting, Nampeyo and Maria Martinez. So when Robyn met Manos there was much to discuss and they subsequently worked together. Manos found the burnished surface a perfect vehicle for his carving and developed new forms in clay for Maori traditions in returning umbilical cords and afterbirths to home soil, and Urupa uses. Robyn was subsequently invited to join the first art hui that Manos set up at his marae at Matatina and from those hui the Kaihanga Uku group of clayworkers was formed (although they called themselves ‘the muddies’! Robyn was made an honorary member.

Robyn subsequently travelled to many places to teach her ‘low tech’ method of making in clay, often returning several times to places such as Rarotonga, or Zimbabwe and other east African countries, Indonesia and India. Wherever she landed she made friends through her enthusiasm, warmth and enjoyment of her meditative processes. Her work had enormous appeal due to scale, tactility, a refined gleam of surface and the elegant simplification of design. It was interesting to hear the credit she gave, for the immaculate finish, to her jeweller’s ‘bloodstone’ – her principal tool, apart from her clever fingers. Vessels would range from a few centimetres to more than 50cm across and her work was regularly in great demand by various government departments for official gifts, for they fitted their criteria to perfection.

Robyn, always was sensitive to the troubles of others and kind and thoughtful in her responses. She has maintained a low profile in recent years due to health issues she could not overcome. Her friends will be relieved that she is no longer suffering but will miss her and mourn her passing.

 

 

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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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END of an ERA continued…

Barry Brickells’ Memorial Service on Wednesday last followed a private internment the evening prior for family and workers from Driving Creek and a few close old friends. The numbers for that were limited to how many the train could carry half-way up the mountain to his chosen burial site behind Driving Creek – 64. The Memorial Service the next day had to be held in the hall of the local, Coromandel Area School, as not only was half the town there but more friends and associates from Barry’s many-stranded life came from all over the country – the deep south, the capital, small and large towns and many from Auckland. Some of those even persuaded the Gulf ferry company to delay the return journey so that travel by boat, on a hot, humid mid-summer’s day might be engaged rather then the three hour journey by car down motorways and across long flat plains.  The hall was packed, extra seating had to be brought in from all over the school and a number had to stand at the sides, and gladly did, for the more than two hour event.  There were somewhere over 900 people gathered.

His brother and sisters gave an initial eulogy. Then many was the story told by old friends, of course. Contributions were made not only by the pottery and the arts communities but also from people involved with him in his conservation activities and rail restoration projects as well as Trust Board representation from Driving Creek itself.  There was a small choir that sang a cappella and joined with the assembled audience for a chorus of “He’ll be coming round the mountain”.  The ceremony was grand and well managed as was the country-style feast that followed. Barry would have loved it.

 

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