Thursday, 30 August 2007

Conceptual Craft

So I ran across an interesting interview with the artists Clare Twomney and David Cushway in the latest issue of CRAFTS: The Magazine for Contemporary Craft.

Both were speaking about their practice and conceptual approaches to the medium. Most of the statements were interesting and thought provoking, although I did take a bit of offense to a comment made by Twomney which stated (and perhaps out of context) that she was "interested in big ideas, revolutionary ideas, and that comes from the world of drawing and painting, not using ceramics." (pg.22, Crafts, July/Aug 07) I'm not sure where to begin at this point in the defense of ceramics as a revolutionary medium equivalent to painting or drawing. This discussion demands far more than a simplistic blog entry at this point, but I'd love to hear what others have to say about the comment, as I hope to return to this in greater detail at a later point.

Clare Twomney: Housewares and Shoal

I've long admired the works of both artists, how they interact with the rich history of ceramics and art to produce works that are not only conceptually strong, but technically proficient as well. For without technical proficiency the works would suffer visually. Both have worked with the medium in an ephemeral manner allowing for the the transformation of the material either physically, or it's transformation while in exhibition, inform and guide the work and audience. An example would be Cushway's Sublimation piece, in which the disintegration of the object, rather than the static permanence of the object is that which speaks volumes. And Twomney has allowed the audience the control of the work, through their engagement in theft of the work to give the piece meaning in Trophy (2006), wherein the gallery contained 4000 Wedgewood produced Bluebirds, which the public were encouraged to covet and take.

David Cushway: Sublimation

The conversation in the interview between both artists also discussed the importance of collaboration in their practices, between them and other artists, their audiences, industry, etc.

It's a short few page piece and if you can get your hands on it, it's interesting enough for the few minutes it takes to read it. I particularly like when Cushway speaks about seeing Antony Gormley on tv and how he refers to sculpture "as a stillness in a constantly changing world." (pg 24, Crafts, July/Aug 07) I like the peacefulness of that statement.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

As promised more on the junk (a-gama that is)

So over the weekend I attended Prairie Flicker with the aim of learning what this whole junk-a-gama thing was all about. It's wise to acknowledge though that as artists there is rarely true junk out there, or materials that we can't find a new life for. This is particularly so for ceramics where anything in it's final form can at the very least be ground down into grog. So when referring to a junk-a-gama kiln, we're really not talking about junk, in fact the bricks we used were, while definitely not new, were in pretty good shape.

So the building began by about 11am and with a good break for lunch we were finished construction by around 3 that afternoon - now that's my kind of kiln building! Mind you we had a lot of hands, but still, as much as I love a beautifully constructed kiln, my patience and my back can't handle all the work. So a one day kiln was just my speed.

Here's a few play by play shots of the construction:

The floor in place and the beginning of the walls.

A view of the fire box with stainless steal rods in place.

Walls complete and the chimney in place.

A view from the front to the back.

The checkered bag wall.

At last the packed kiln!

The aim was to reach at least cone 6, we had a good range of clay bodies and a select few glazes that could withstand a range in temperature. The top of the kiln was finished off with old shelves and a final layer of soft brick.

Unfortunately in the end with a one day firing we didn't quite reach the goal temperature but with some minor adjustments the next firing should proceed according to plan. But melted glaze or not, what fun! Beyond that, this kiln was the perfect size for a backyard, single person firing wood kiln.

The workshop participants also got the chance to pit fire and raku. While I fondly remember back in undergrad my friend Jessie and I building our first kiln, a raku that we actually got a substantial amount of work through before it started to fall apart, it's been ages since I've done a raku. It's not that I'm not an admirer of raku work, it just that it doesn't quite fit the work I've been producing over the last few years. But I was introduced to a new technique for raku this weekend that I've never seen before - chip slip. I was quite inspired...maybe there will be more raku in my future.

Here's a shot of the slip being picked away, and a beautiful final result.

Monday, 27 August 2007

CBC Artspots

CBC produced a documentary this year to celebrate the 2007 Year of Craft called Hand Made, Hand Held wherein they talk to collectors and producers of craft. Just something to help you procrastinate on a Monday morning!

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

a bit of a laugh

While I may have been one of the lucky ones that actually enjoyed a good critique in college (i know it's sick right?), for anyone who hated having to sit through critiques in college and thought they were filled with the esoteric ramblings of those with little insight into the actual work, but who like to hear themselves talk check out the "instant art critique phrase generator" It's good for a bit of a laugh!

And now for some Dutch inspiration...

I found a great portal website, Share, that showcases a bunch of contemporary dutch ceramic design and thus thought today a profile of a number of Dutch artists was in order. Here's a quick overview of highlights in case you don't have the time to visit all of the websites individually. The Share website also has links to galleries, different organizations, design groups, work centres, you name it - it's a great resource.

The above work is by the artist Simone van Bakel. Her work isn't limited to ceramics, she in corporates a variety of materials, all of which are well mastered.

This following work by Paula Bastiaansen you'll likely recognize from the pages of Ceramic Art and Perception, among other publications. She has a nice website with a bit of info about her process.

These next two are by Judith van der Boom, the second in particular I enjoy the humor in the thought of having to look up their skirts in order to have a drink. She's also got a great blog worth a read.

Here's a piece called Chrysanthemum by Lonneke Kuysten.

Unfortunately not all of the websites are in English, so sometimes they just end up being pretty pictures without context, but that's okay too I guess, like this beautiful work by Anita Manshanden.

I love the simplicity of the forms and the install in this work by Vincent de Rijk.

And I've always been a huge fan of Esther Stasse's work, so I'll end with these and leave the rest of the exploring on the Share website for you to enjoy!

Monday, 20 August 2007


Every once in a while I run across something in this vast world of ceramics that makes me go hun? Junk-a-gama did just that. Later this week I'm heading out of town, well just barely out of town, to participate in Prairie Flicker, a workshop organized by Saskterra. Prairie Fire also runs this week, wherein participants get the experience of building, packing and firing a wood kiln. But the Flicker workshop caught my interest as I'd never heard of a junk-a-gama before. Basically from what I've found is that it involves the use of old kiln bricks and parts from around the kiln yard to build a non-permanent tunnel kiln, which aims to reach cone 9/10.

Here's a site with some pics to give you an idea of the construction, but of course check back next week as I'll be posting some pics of the kiln we'll be firing and details of how it all went.

The wonderful world of ceramic blogs

I got a great email this morning from Emily Murphy, a wonderful ceramic artist and blogger who was so lovely as to put a link to musing on her blog. She makes great soda fired work so definitely check her website out, but don't miss out on the blog particularly since she's been compiling a thorough profile of ceramic related blogs. So far she's profiled about 44! What a resource, thanks Emily!

Friday, 17 August 2007


April 10-13, 2008
Little Rock, Arkansas

An overview of topics to be discussed include:

Relationship of Collectors and Institutions
Interior Designers Using Craft Objects
Wisdom of Hands (Arts in Education Program Concept)
Marketing and Promoting Your Craft Organization
Creative Economies Assessment and the Arkansas Study
Selling Craft on Organization Websites

Registration information and details have recently been updated on the CODA website:
Linda Van Trump, Managing Director
P.O. Box 51
Onia , AR 72663

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Exquisite porcelain and a new blog to check out

A dear friend of mine Emilka Radlinska-Brown has set up a blog and website that is a must see. I first met her and was introduced to her work when we were both students at the Australian National University. Her work is exquisitely refined, hauntingly beautiful references to air travel and the aesthetics of aeronautic engineering. Travel has had a large impact on her life and thus is a strong influence on her work. She has lived in Poland, Australia, the United States and now resides in Scotland.

New ceramic book to check out.

Here's a new book published by Anvil Press called "Transitions of a Still Life: The Ceramic Work of Tam Irving" which was written by Carol E. Mayer.

Here's a quote from the Anvil Press Website:
"Transitions is a beautifully illustrated book examining the works of ceramic artist Tam Irving as a unique cultural activity: one that combines both art and science to express the subtle content and sensuous tactility of vessel and sculpture. Irving has lived in British Columbia for the past 50 years, and during this time, he has been at the heart of the changing social, political, and cultural relationships that have informed the development of studio ceramics in this province. The core of Tam Irving: Reflections is about recording excellence and providing a stimulating legacy document for future scholars, artists, and researchers. It will recognize the contributions that Irving has made to the development of the ceramic medium within the province and to the larger Canadian and international ceramic community."

Monday, 13 August 2007

Too much great work, so little time...

Rae Dunn's work has been popping up on my radar quite a bit lately so I thought it was about time to post a few images on the blog. I wish I had endless hours in the day to profile each and every artist that I find inspiring, but I'd likely have to give up my day job! I'm quite attracted to the simple elegance of Rae's work and I find some of her inspiration humorous, particularly the gum tree in Philadelphia that inspired a series of work - check it out on her blog site which is worth a read.

Rae's from San Francsico and has been playing in the mud for 13 years now, finding inspiration from the world around her and expressing herself through beautiful handbuilt forms.

These winged pieces are among my favorites, however her more functional work is pretty yummy too!

She's acheived quite a substantial amount of exposure in design and decorating magazines which can be seen on her website alongside some insight about her approach and incorporation of wabi-sabi into her practice.

Here's a few places to look to find her work for sale:

Magenta Inc.

This Next
Michelle Gantt Ceramics Gallery
Pure Modern

Ohhh, this should be a good one!

England, London "Ceramic Art London 2008" (February 29-March 2, 2008).
Juried from digital or slides.
Fee: £20 (US$39).
Contact Ceramic Art London 2008, 25 Foubert's Place, London W1F 7QF, UK;; website; 44 2074 393 377.

Five American Calls for Entry

Its Only Clay National Juried Ceramic Competition and Exhibit
August 29th, Entry Deadline
Bemidji, Minnesota

Juried by Jeff Oestreich
Exhibition runs from October 5th to 27th.
Fee $30.00 for three entries.
For entry details visit their website here or call (218) 444-7570.


Clay on the Walls: 2007 Clay National
August 31st, 2007 Entry Deadline
Lubbock, Texas

The exhibition takes place Dec. 1, 2007 through Feb 17th, 2008.
Juror: Mathew Kangas.
Digital submissions and slides accepted.
Entry fee: $25.00 for 3 entries; up to two additional entries may be submitted for 5 dollars each.
For more information call (806) 742-1947 or write: Texas Tech University School of Art. Landmark Arts/Clay on the Wall, Box 42081, Lubbock, TX 79409.


CraftTexas 2008
March 1, 2008 Entry Deadline
Houston Center for Contemporary Craft

CraftTexas 2008 is the fifth in a series of juried exhibitions showcasing the best in Texas-made contemporary craft. The exhibition is open to all artists currently residing in Texas and working in clay, fiver, glass, metal, wood and in found/recycled materials. CraftTexas 2008 will be on view May 24-Aug 1th at Houston Center for Contemporary Crafts.
For application guidelines visit


Seattle Teapot Biennial
September 1st Deadline
Washington, Seattle (October 3-November 7)
Open to sculptural and functional ceramic teapots.
Juried from digital.
Juror: Jamie Walker.
Fee: $20 for three entries.
Contact Matt Mitros, South Seattle Community College, 6000 16th Ave. SW, Seattle 98106;;


Ceramic Objects/Conceptual Material
September 4 entry deadline
Arkansas, Fayetteville (January 9-February 15, 2008).
Juried from digital.
Juror: John Perreault, independent curator and art critic.
Fee: $30 for three entries.
Contact Jeannie Hulen, University of Arkansas, Ceramics Program, 116 Fine Arts Center, Fayetteville 72701;;; (479) 575-2008.

Speaking of the Gardiner Museum...

If you haven't checked out the Gardiner Museum it's definitely worth a look, either by web or in person.

They've got quite the collection of historic ceramics including:

Ancient Americas
Chinese Porcelain
English Delftware
English Porcelain
European Porcelain
Italian Renaissance Maiolica
Japanese Porcelain & Its Influence
Modern & Contemporary Ceramics

They also host artist talks, have an extensive research library, teach classes, you name it.

Here's a listing of some upcoming lectures:

Lecture: Fantasy or Fact? Images of Chinese Domestic Life in Qing Dynasty Export Art
Sept 11, 2007, 6pm

Using examples from the Made in China exhibition, the Gardiner's new Curator, Charles Mason, will explore the portrayal of Chinese domestic life in Qing-dynasty export art. Mason will look at ceramics, paintings, enamel wares and figural carvings made for western buyers who viewed life in China as exotic. The mix of fact and fantasy in these images make them both valuable and challenging for historians to use and are only now receiving the scholarly attention they deserve.

From the Ground Up: Nurturing the Art of Sustainable Living
Inaugural Annual Lecture
Tues Sept 25, 2007, 6 pm, doors open at 5:30pm

Don’t miss a lively discussion between urban chef Jamie Kennedy, innkeeper Sinclair Philip of the world-renowned Sooke Harbour House on Vancouver Island, and farmer-chef Michael Stadtlander of Ontario’s Eigensinn Farm on the issues affecting the safety and sustainability of our food supply. Pioneers in the food sustainability movement, Kennedy, Philip and Stadtlander have all successfully incorporated sustainable food practices into their businesses. This is a rare opportunity to hear about their experiences and perspectives and for you to talk with these experts. Moderated by Lori Stahlbrand, founder of Local Flavour Plus and author of the best-selling book Real Food for a Change.

Ontario Clay artists - call for submissions

The Archives of Ontario, the premier source of Ontario’s documentary heritage, has joined forces with the Gardiner Museum, Canada’s pre-eminent ceramic museum, for an innovative and exciting project.

Influenced and inspired by the holdings of the Archives of Ontario and archival collections across the province, this project will result in the creation of significant ceramic art that will promote and showcase Ontario’s ceramic artists and portray the culture and heritage of the province.

Eight original ceramic tiles will be purchased by the Government of Ontario Art Collection from eight individual Ontario artists. The tiles will be installed at an indoor location in the new Archives of Ontario Public Service Facility slated to open in 2009. Prior to their installation, the tiles will be launched and displayed at a reception held at the Gardiner Museum in Toronto on Tuesday, November 4, 2008.


Ann Mortimer
Bruce Cochrane
Gillian Reddyhoff
Diane Wolfe
Lisa Singer


Ontario based professional artists are invited to submit:

* A concept statement that clearly indicates the relationship of the proposed artwork to the archival records on which it will be based. Artists may consult the web site of the Archives of Ontario or the myriad of local, heritage and other archival institutions throughout the province. To access the Archives of Ontario’s web site and for a listing of Ontario’s archival institutions visit here and here.
* Four recent examples of your work in either slide or digital format (on CD-ROM). Please submit all images on slides OR CD, not both.
* a self-addressed stamped envelope is required for the return of all graphic material.

* A copy your c.v., including all contact information.
* Please mail your entry to:
The Curator
Government of Ontario Art Collection
Archives of Ontario
77 Grenville Street, 3rd Floor
Toronto ON M5S 1B3
* Entries must be received by: Friday, November 30, 2007.


* A maximum of eight works will receive purchase awards of $2,000 (inclusive of CARFAC fees) and will become part of the Government of Ontario Art Collection.
* The Archives of Ontario and the Gardiner Museum reserve the right to reproduce all accepted work for educational and publicity purposes.


Please contact Gillian Reddyhoff at:

Telephone: (416) 327-2808

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Crafty t-shirts

While I'm personally rarely a fan of t-shirts with text on them, I was a sucker for these two craft related ones. The first I got from the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery as a part of a fundraising project they put on a few years ago.

They still have them listed on their site and they're only $15 and the proceeds go towards ongoing educational programs. I wore this shirt at the Portland NCECA conference and had heaps of people asking where to get one. Even had someone offer me $50 for it. Should have sold and bought a new one!

This "Craft to Live, Live to Craft" shirt is by Toronto Printmaker Daryl Vocat. You can check out his artwork here or find the t-shirt on his propaganda site here. At only $20 a pop (13 for the shirt and 7 for postage) It's hard to pass up.

Emerging Canadian Artists in Contemporary Fine Crafts

Call for Entry: en feu* Emerging Canadian Artists in Contemporary Fine Crafts
Deadline for Entry: September 18

The MAM Fine Crafts Collective, in association with the Conseil des métiers d’art du Québec, announces a call to artists for en feu* emerging canadian artists in contemporary fine crafts, a juried exhibition open to emerging fine crafts artists across Canada having no more than 5 years experience as a professional artisan. The exhibition (whose title means “on fire”) will be held December 7 - 22, 2007 at the Salon des Métiers d’art du Québec, at Place Bonaventure in downtown Montréal, as part of Craft Year 2007 and in celebration of the MAM collective’s 5th anniversary.

We are looking for audacious and innovative work in all fine crafts media – we want to show the excellence and savoir-faire of emerging Canadian fine crafts artists. Please submit a current cv, artist statement and up to 3 images (8x10” colour prints or 7x5” 300dpi jpg images on CD) of your work. For more detailed information, please see website

Call for Entry - CraftForms 2007

Here's a call for any American craft artists out there. You can see past exhibition highlights and award winners on their website.

Deadline September 20 (Slides Postmarked Date)

Applications are sought for the 13th National Juried Exhibition of Contemporary Craft at the Wayne Art Centre in Pennsylvania. All fine craft media is accepted, and the exhibition will be on display at the art centre from November 30, 2007 – February 1, 2008. For more information check out the CraftForms website at

Alberta Craft Council - Call for Submission

The Alberta Craft Council is looking for submissions for its Discovery gallery. I think you have to have an active membership to get a show, but you don't have to live in Alberta to be a member. Membership also provides you with monthly newsletters and calls for entry, etc. Membership is something like $40, but don't quote me on that.

Deadline August 30

The Discovery Gallery is dedicated to showcasing new work by well-established and up-and-coming fine craft artists. The ACC is looking for submissions for our 2008 schedule from both Individuals and Groups.

What we need in your submission:
- detailed description & theme of the exhibition and curatorial statement
- cv and artist statement (s)
- time of year perfered and reason
- slides, images and description of work
- number of pieces/artists in or expected to particpate in the exhibition
- price or insurance value range
- name of organization or organizer plus contact information

For more information or if you have any questions please contact, Joanne Hamel at (780) 488-6611 ext. 221 or