Thursday, 28 June 2007

It's very rare...

A few weekends ago I attended the Bazaart sale and although I felt that the sale itself could have gone a bit better (fingers crossed for next year), it was a great experience to be out with my work in the public. I think I had forgotten the joy of watching people interact with and respond to my work. It's something that I think brings immense joy to an artist, but is also something that we are cut off from when we deal primarily with a gallery/shop system to sell our work.

In the past few years I've ventured into the whole marketing and selling of my work with some success and a measurable amount of failure as well. I've dealt with amazing gallery owners, who are extremely supportive, while others are unapproachable, non-responsive to emails and phone calls and sometimes in my worst case scenario, are selling the work at a price that was not agreed upon. And while the great gallery owners form an intricate part of the marketing system of your work, they may offer feedback about an audience's reaction to the work, but it's never the same as being there.

But I always wonder (am I being too negative and neurotic perhaps?) that an audience will respond differently to work when the artist is present. I know that I have shamefully in the past responded far more positively to work than I internally felt so as to save someones feelings. It's not an honest reaction, but I think we all do it, the little white lies that in truth are likely for the better.

I think in my history I've received some honest feedback and critique from close friends, fellow students and advisers. And I thank them all for it as it is from that honesty that I grow as an artist. One critical comment can have a profound effect far greater than any positive "I love your work" response (not that I don't encourage those as well).

But I had a great experience with honesty a few months ago when I was teaching at the Red Deer College. I taught a ceramics course as well as a 2d Design course. Twice a week these classes were back to back so I ran from one to the other, however they were both hours long so I'd quickly make a meal to take to my design class. Day after day I'd take a bowl or plate from the ceramics workshop created by a variety of different artists and students. Each day my design students would ask if I had made the bowl or plate, to which I responded "no". This became a daily joke and they began to joke that maybe I didn't really make pots. So months later I had just pulled some pieces out of the kiln and decided to have lunch in one of my shallow bowls that day. Well by this time the students must have given up on ever seeing one of my pieces and had stopped asking. But when I did show up in class with my bowl one of the students said to me, "oh, I don't care for that one, it looks like a dog food dish!" I was shocked and amazed, not in anger at what was said, but that for once I had received the most honest and truthful response to my work! I laughed I was so happy, although I never told the student that the piece had been mine, for their sake not mine, but i will never forget that.

Hmmm dog food dish indeed, we all need a bit of honesty in our lives!

If you like to make teapots...

"Big Fish Small Pot Third International Small Teapot Competition and Show"

Teapot Competition ~ (February 25 – March 20, 2008) for small teapots, less than 16 ounces. Initial selections for competition juried from digital or slides. December 10, 2007 entry deadline. Fee: $40 for three entries. Awards: over $5000. For prospectus send SASE to Art Gallery, Saddleback College, 28000 Marguerite Pkwy, Mission Viejo, CA 92692, or, or visit their website.

Do you make 'fabulous finishes'?

Call for Entries for the Fabulous Finishes Exhibition at Gloria Kennedy Gallery.

The Fabulous Finishes exhibition is open to ceramic artists world wide will be held during the DUMBO under the Bridge Festival. Last year's attendance at the festival was over 100 thousand. At least 8000 people walked thru the gallery during the festival and a number of sales were made. Last year the gallery had the opportunity to exhibit exceptional ceramic art and this year we plan to do the same.

The call is open to ceramic artists worldwide. We are targeting ceramic work that epitomizes unparalleled surface decoration or inimitable glaze techniques. The work can stand, sit or hang. It must be ceramic and any exterior treatment can be applied, i.e., glaze, photo transfer, china paint, impression, luster .... The application deadline is July 15, 2007. Exhibition Dates: September 12 until October 27, 2007. There is a fee of $35.00 for three entries.

Go to their website to download the application form.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

The joys and pains of teapots

Here's a few shots of some recent teapots I've made as a part of the snow series design. It took me a long time to work out the design for this series, but after lots of trials and errors and obsessive perfectionism, I may be getting somewhere.

It's not that I don't like making teapots, I genuinely do, but I find them more stressful than any other functional form. There's just too much to go wrong at any given time. And adding the use of Southern Ice on top of that (it's not happy with attachments) doesn't help my sanity. But when a teapot emerges on the other side of the kiln, bright and gleaming and pouring nicely, well there's not much else like that sense of accomplishment. I'm also working on some other fun teapots which i'll post soon once they're fired.

Later in July I'll be teaching a Teapot course in Red Deer as part of their Summer Series. Here's the description:

Introduction to Teapot Construction
The teapot form is one of the most expressive and creative forms in ceramics. A teapot can be either functional or purely sculptural. In this Workshop, aspects of teapot construction will be explored through throwing,hand-building and press-molding techniques. You will be encouraged to develop your personal aesthetic and will experiment with various decorative techniques such as water etching, tissue transfer prints, inlay and sgrafitto.

For more info check out the Red Deer College Website

Friday, 22 June 2007

Lovely little drawings

Long before I got my hands dirty in the clay studio and never looked back, I used to draw and paint. Now I must admit I do neither, but i'm still a great lover of beautiful little pieces that stir the imagination and creative spirit.

Just recently I ran across the work of Catherine Campbell .

These are beautiful collage pieces which to me evoke a strange sort of nostalgia which I haven't yet been able to place in my memory. She also sells through etsy.

One of my other favorite 2-d artists has got to be Marcel Dzama, whose a Canadian boy from Winnipeg that's had huge success in the American market. He makes lovely little quiry drawings (and paints as well), some of which are tinted with root beer! yummy!

And via etsy I just discovered these pieces by Ice Kubi. The layering of imagery is wonderful, a technique I love seeing in clay as well.

Lots of inspiration for a rainy day.

New book I must have!

I can barely wait till fall to get my hands on a copy of Utopic Impulses: Contemporary Ceramics Practice . It's a collection of texts edited by Edited by Ruth Chambers, Amy Gogarty & Mireille Perron. And of all things, little ole me will have an image and a small blurb about my work in it. Mind you it's of a piece that I made, oh let's see, maybe in 2001! That was back when I made more installation based ceramic work. It's been interesting to be involved and get a slight sense of exactly how long it takes for things to happen in the publishing world. One of my good old aussie/canadian girls Lia Tajcnar is also in it. I must definitely do a post about her soon as her work is spectacular (to the full extent of the word!) It's looking to be a great read, and if the wealth of knowledge of the editors is any indication, it will be filled to the brim with amazing-thought-provoking ceramics.

Check out the publishers website here for more information and other great titles.

Here is the blurb from the website about the book:
Utopic Impulses: Contemporary Ceramics Practice brings together ten essays and twenty artist projects to explore ceramics as a socially responsible practice. By framing particular ceramics practices as "utopic impulses," this anthology envisions new and stimulating conceptions of how studio ceramics contribute to the social and political fabric of their time. The ten essays by artists and theorists well-known in the field, including Paul Mathieu (2007 Saidye Bronfman Award winner) and Leopold Foulem, "make a case" for the importance and value of studio ceramics in the public sphere. The artist projects in Utopic Impulses reflect influences and contexts arising from both local and global concerns. Drawing from a full spectrum of examples, the projects include functional wares, design for industry, conceptual, community-based projects and large-scale installations by artists such as Greg Payce, Jeannie Mah, Sin-Ying Ho, Thérèse Chabot, Jamelie Hassan, Anne Ramsden, Diane Sullivan and Les Manning. Each artist project consists of generous visual documentation supported by an artist statement. While the majority of contributors are Canadian, several are from Australia, Ireland and the UK. Bringing together innovative and forward-thinking examples of theory, history and studio practice, this volume will appeal to students, practitioners and educators in the fields of contemporary visual arts, ceramics and craft culture in general.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

strange fascination

As an artist I find it unsettling, yet intriguing when I run across work that reminds me of my own. It can sometimes make you question your own work, is it original enough? or is it simply derivative? What it seems to come down to, or at least this is what I tell myself so that I can keep on making, is that there is no original thought, rather there are new interpretations of the things of life. And in some sense, when confronted with similar work to my own, rather than feel discouraged I take some solace in the finding that there are others out there who see and interpret the world in a manner similar to my own.

Here are some of the pieces that I've found in the last few months that remind me of my own work, which is also portrayed.

This image is the work of Rebecca Wilson. I love this piece with the collection (wow even the idea of "collection" is in both works!) of small figures dressed in rabbit outfits.

In 2004 when I was beginning to work on my Collection of Small Miseries series I created a set of seven pieces in which the figurine character was dressed either entirely or partially (just the ears) as a rabbit, of which this image of the dead red bunny is one. This series to me addressed the dialogue of how humans are made a part of the testing process for new technologies, in particular genetically engineered technology through science's and industry's introduction of new, not always tested technology into our crops and food.

And this is the work of Barnaby Barford who also makes smart ass commentary on MacDonalds. His works uses found objects which he then cuts and pastes into new scenes.

This is my own piece of the worker crucified on the golden arches, titled He was Dying for a Hamburger. My own process is different in that I work from handmade molds and each piece is built referencing the traditional figurines such as Hummels, yet I don't actually use the originals in the pieces.

Barford's work is taking off in popularity, he was recently written up in the New York Times and will be showing at the Garth Clark Gallery in the exhibition Domestic Deities:The Figurine in Art. The show includes these other great artists: Marco Paulo Rolla (Brazil), Tony Hayward, Rachel Kneebone, Andrew Livingstone, Richard Slee (Great Britain), Louise Hindsgavl (Denmark), Laszlo Fekete (Hungary), and Ann Agee, Russell Biles, Linda Cordell, Justin Novak (US). Check out the whole show online at the Garth Clark Gallery.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007


Next weekend on June 16th you can catch me and my work at the Bazaart Festival in Regina, SK. It's a one day arts sale featuring ceramics, jewelery, wood, felting, knits, you name it! It's held at the Mackenzie Art Gallery and should be a great day rain or shine. See you there.