Friday, 30 November 2007

Someone else's great thoughts...

I know that this might be strange blog procedure, but this morning I got a great comment from Shannon Garson in response to an earlier post about sustainable practice and I thought it was just too good to simply publish in the comments section as I wanted to make sure that others read the great insightful ideas. So hopefully Shannon, this is okay with you! Make sure to take the time to check out her website and blog, full of yummy pots and thoughts!

Here's her comment:

Hi Carol!
I am very interested in alternative models for a sustainable practice in the crafts and over the past few years I've been putting my theories on this into practice.

One of the models some friends and I came up with was The Umbrella Collective which is a collective of craft artists- two ceramicists a toy maker, two jewellers. We joined together to pool our joint resources, physical and intellectual so, the collective attacks the wider world from quite a few angles. We have a good web presence through our blog
which links to each artist's personal blog, websites, flickr sites and etsy. Through the web we have established an international profile and this has translated into galleries from overseas contacting us and individually ordering from the artist.

We also believe it is really important to grow support within our communities and have held an annual fair which is very well attended in Brisbane. This coming year we will do an "Outreach"(!) event in my tiny little rural town and invite one or two local artists to be guests of the Collective, giving them the benefit of our expertise, advertising and Love! The other things we are involved with include hosting artists network evenings where we each bring 5 or so guest from a professional field connected to the arts and meet at a cocktail bar where the invitation is open to all who want to attend to come and make professional connections with people from education, the media and other artists. We in the Umbrella Collective believe that we are powerful by sharing our knowledge and experience and hope that other artists will start their own collectives with an emphasis on sustainable careers in the arts.

The other thing that I am trying this year is an alternative model for exhibition. Making art ceramics is a pretty specialized field and I observed that I don't need to sell 1000's of items (I can't as I can only make so many) By holding an exclusive launch of new work through a business that wants to have a special event for their favoured clients I will be building a small but enthusiastic band of collectors. I found this business through the founder buying some of my work and put forward a proposal to him that we hold a series of launches of the "Art Series" of Shannon Garson Porcelain. He would invite a very select clientele (20 or so) and I would show the first works from each series before it is opened at a public exhibition. This way my patron's clients get to attend an very exclusive event and his company becomes (for a relatively small, tax-deductible outlay) associated with the arts, creativity, exclusivity and all that applies. It is a great way for business people with and interest in the arts to support artists and support their business at the same time.
Thanks Carol! This is a really long comment so I completely understand if you don't want to post the whole thing! Thanks for the thought provoking blogging.

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Well I'm back from the Neocraft conference, exhausted from having my brain fed, but happy to have some new ideas bouncing around in there, and I promise to share some of the highlights of the weekend asap. But for this morning, this cold snowy morning I thought I'd post a few fun things to help with the impending Christmas shopping season. Our family last year made a bit of a decision about Christmas and agreed to tone it down a bit this year and really focus on handmade gifts, should be interesting to see how that goes. So in that frame of thought here are some wonderful ideas for the ceramics lover in your life (or for yourself!)

First off I just got an email from Ayumie Horie, one of my faves, and she's going to be posting new pots for sale on her website today, Friday November 30th at 11am EST. She makes beautifully "cute" pots of which I own a Turkey mug I bought in Portland at NCECA, which I love and find most people chose when faced with the multitude of cup choices in my cupboard.

Here's a gorgeous piece by Rain Harris, a bit more of an expensive present, but worth it!

You can find it here.

And these lovely earrings are polymer clay by RG Creations:

Here's some pieces by Sara Paloma. I love the vertebra series.

Or what about this prize winning teapot by Kristin Pavelka?

or maybe this one by Sam Chung

Well I know that this would barely even begin to scratch the surface of the long wish list of ceramic pieces I'd love to add to my collection. Best of luck with your holiday shopping. Buy Local, Buy Handmade.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

It ain't easy being a "green kiln", or is it?

Well it's early morning and I'm watching the sun rise over the freshly fallen snow in my yard, waiting for it to warm up a bit before venturing out to the studio to check out the results of the latest firing and contemplating the various aspects of Global Craft which are still plaguing my mind. I'm off tomorrow though for Halifax and the Neocraft conference and beyond the conference am quite excited to check out the new facilities at NSCAD (Nova Scotia College of Art and Design),particularly the new ceramics department and specifically the new kilns installed by Gerard Blaauw, kiln designer extraordinaire.

"Blaauw kilns represent the most sophisticated combination of refractories, software engineering, and exquisite design - only recently accessible to artists. These kilns, which industry terms “green” kilns, are designed to economize on fuel and provide students with industrial-style control over their processes. Insulators, made possible by NASA research, are the basis for heat retention, while super-efficient burners quickly propel the kiln to high temperatures. These kilns recoup much of the excess heat from firing."

NSCAD is the first facility in Canada to have these kilns so should be exciting, well at least for geeks like me! I'll do my best to get some more pics of the facilities for a later post. In the meantime check out their website for more info on the facility.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Just a bit more on globalization...

Many thanks to the lovely Mel Robson of Feffakookan for bringing my attention to a posting on Bloesem about Hella Jongerius's new design works in enamel. Rather than copy the quote directly from either the blog or the site I'll simply encourage you to check them out as they relate to my previous ramblings on globalization and craft practice. Just a bit more to chew on...hope you like.

Monday, 19 November 2007

Craftwork - Craftsmanship; Process as Ritual

The Open Sky Creative Society in Fort Simpson Northwest Territories is currently seeking submissions from artists working in all media from artists currently residing in Canada for a group exhibition titled: Craftwork – Craftsmanship; Process as Ritual Selected artists must be willing to be present in the community of Fort Simpson, NT in order to attend an exhibition reception as well as conduct a series of two four hour technical workshops which will be attended by community & audience members. The Exhibition will take place for one week in conjunction with the Open Sky Festival 2008 taking place from June 27-29, 2008.

Submissions should include:
- 8-15 images (35mm slide or JPEGs & BMP formats on CD-ROM) Media & audio artists may submit in DVD, VHS, or Audio CD)
- A Slide/Media list which includes title, media, dimensions, & date of pieces
- An Artist CV outlining exhibition, workshop & other relevant experience
- A brief Artist Statement (500 words Max.)
- A personal statement in response to the Craftwork – Craftsmanship; Process as Ritual Artistic Direction Vision Statement (contact the Society for more information). This statement should tell us why your work is relevant to the overall artistic vision of the exhibition & should describe what you intend to exhibit.
- A self addressed stamped envelope for the purpose of returning submitted materials

Submissions should be mailed to: Artistic Director / Festival Coordinator
Open Sky Creative Society Box 587 Fort Simpson, NT X0E 0N0

Submission Deadline December 14

For more information please contact the Open Sky Creative Society office:
Phone/Fax: (867) 695-3005 E-Mail:
Or visit their website

Some meandering thoughts...

Alright, so I've discovered that asking a direct question is not necessarily successful in the the land of blogging...dully noted. After many days of nothing but static over the airwaves I realize that maybe my question regarding Global Craft was just far too open-ended, and maybe not really a question anyway. So I thought I'd post a bit about my own thoughts while preparing for the conference later this week.

I must say it's been interesting to be moderating a panel on craft practices that are not ceramic related. Of course all craft theory can be interrelated, but the panel speakers topics are related to textiles - quilting, weaving, fashion design and traditional practices of specific cultures, and one panel member is speaking about a specific case study in a China of traditional stone carving practices. It's all been quite interesting to read and learn about, as I have no background in these areas. And of course there is cross over in terms of theory and methodology back to ceramics practices, so it's all relevant.

One of the more interesting topics addressed is the issue of sustainability, which we often view as a solely contemporary issue, one related foremost in our minds to issues of economic or environmental sustainability, both of which are highly relevant to any individual practice. But there is call for concern as well for raising the issue of creative sustainability in the face of globalization and this has a impact on craft as an industry as well as craft as an individual practice.

This made me think back to a workshop I attended with the ceramic gallery/writer "god" Garth Clark and his equivalently successful sidekick Mark DelVichio. They were discussing, and quite frankly I might add, the American ceramic arts market, it's realities and pitfalls. Again and again audience members would question the pair regarding "breaking into" that market as it was seen as the global stage for artistic success. Interestingly neither Mark nor Garth promoted the practice of trying to find success in an American market and instead questioned the seemingly negative attitude towards regionalism and building a successful practice within a smaller market. They basically turned the tables on what I had been thinking throughout most of my studies and practice as an artist, that to aim big was the only way. It was so glaringly obvious that to factor into your work success in a market other than your own would have an influential impact on the work created. Now this is not to say that should such opportunity for success and recognition at national or international levels present itself one is to shy away, no, but rather than true success on such a scale will come as a direct result of the inherent strength of the work rather than any conscious drive for success.

But I'm getting off topic now. What I wanted to bring up was the issue of outside influence on craft practice, and in relation to the presentations of the panel, more specifically on traditional craft practices which were developed over centuries and once trade routes were established and foreign interest in the crafted objects was solidified, the commodification by foreign interests began to have it's impact on the aesthetics and imagery presented, which in turn has also impacted the crafted objects made for regional use as well. I just think it's interesting to follow the web of how globalization even centuries ago has impacted what we view as traditional crafts today, as they do not, and could not exist in their pure forms. And I don't think it necessarily needs to be viewed in terms of negative of positive outcomes, but rather studied as a means of greater understanding of material process knowledge transfer between different groups and to address methodologies of creating sustainability for these crafts, on a creative level, for future generations.

Contemporary globalization is also brought up by panelists to highlight the push towards industry over the individual crafted object and the impact of access to non regional materials for artisans. The debate (or perhaps debacle) regarding craft and industry relations is nothing new, and many artists (perhaps now I speak more specifically of ceramics) are addressing this directly in their work, as a means of understanding individual, economic and global impacts of modernity's reliance upon technology. Where do we sit in a world where machines and humans make designed objects on par with each other? How do we as artisans/craftspeople state our case for the validity and valuing of traditional practices over hyper commodification? So much of this requires a mass re-thinking of not only our current value systems, but the ways in which we want to live our lives and see our futures. Case studies into regions, cultures, villages that have managed to somewhat keep intact their traditional craft practices provide insight into not only craft (and creative) sustainability, but in turn also into economic and environmental sustainability as they are often regions that have resisted globalization to a degree and who have managed to exist more self sufficiently as a community than someone in my position as a north american consumer could likely ever fully understand.

Okay, that was quite a bit of rambling for one day, a nice procrastination from preparing for the conference. Hopefully some of this nonsense made some sense...I guess its time for me to get back to work and sorting through some of these ideas properly. I'll keep you posted as to how it all goes, and hopefully have tons of pics from Halifax to show you next week!

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Stanthorpe Art Prize - call for Australian Artists

Applications close: 21 November 2007
Invitations are currently being extended to Australian artists to enter the biennial Stanthorpe Art Prize 2008. Formerly known as the Stanthorpe Arts Festival, this new-look event includes a significant acquisitive award and non-aquisitive awards. Works submitted include painting, printmaking, sculpture, photo-media, fibre, pottery with mixed styles. Email or visit their site.

The 17th San Angelo National Ceramic Competition 2008

NOTE: this "national" competition is actually open to residents of the US, Canada and Mexico.

February 4, 2008 Postmark date for slides/CD, fee and entry form.

Here's a blurb about the competition from their site: "Far more than an exhibit, the April ceramics show is a 3-day event which is jointly hosted by the Museum, Angelo State University and The Old Chicken Farm Art Center. The museum's opening reception of the ceramics exhibit is one of the highlights and is accompanied by a ceramic Symposium at the University and a day long Workshop at The Old Chicken Farm Art Center. There are numerous other gallery openings, a barbecue dinner, and 3 days of ceramic discussions.

For each Competition the Museum chooses a well known and qualified juror within the ceramic community to curate the show. An exhibit of over 100 pieces, covering a wide spectrum of styles across the United States, Canada and Mexico, is chosen from often over 1500 entries. In addition to the juried exhibit the ceramic competition includes a mini-exhibit, highlighting the work of an established, well known ceramic artist, who also leads a workshop at the Old Chicken Farm Art Center."

Check out the site for more details and downloadable form.

Second Biennial Concordia Continental Ceramic Competition

December 7 entry deadline
Minnesota, St. Paul Presents: “Second Biennial Concordia Continental Ceramic Competition”
January 24–February 20, 2008
Competition is open to residents of Canada, the Caribbean, Central America, Mexico and the United States.
Juried from digital and slides.
Jurors: Marko Fields, Kate Maury and Keith Williams.
Fee: $25 for three entries.
Awards: $1000 as well as numerous purchase awards.
For prospectus, send SASE to Keith Williams, Art Dept., Concordia University, 275 Syndicate St. N, St. Paul 55104; or e-mail

Last minute reminder...

The 15th of November is the deadline for NCECA's Call for 2009 Concurrent, Independent Exhibition Proposals. I know it's last minute and I should have posted a reminder earlier, but hopefully if you're interested you can also work well under pressure (it often seems to be the only way I get anything done!) Just remember you can submit online till midnight on the 15th. Best of Luck!

And don't forget for those looking for work that they have postings on their site for employment opportunities.

Artist travel blogs and a question to you the reader...

As interesting as it always is to have my daily read of craft/ceramic/art/theory/design related blogs I'm also intrigued by the openness of bloggers to share more personal stories and adventures, not necessarily always to the extent of say Post Secret, more along the lines of the day to day in the studio and travels that fellow artists have taken providing them with inspiration or professional opportunities. I've recently had a look at Scott Rench's new blog YOSOH which I thought I'd mention as it's a bit of fun to go through, filled with humorous pics and a recounting of his journey to Denmark for a residency. Have a browse if you've got a minute.

This whole blogging thing is still feeling new to me, but I've been really enjoying posting and reading blogs over the last year or so and am really interested by the connections and community that develops as a result. I've had wonderful lovely emails from people all over the globe and am really touched by how this technology has changed my perception of community and collective interaction. On that note I'm interested in asking a question of this blogs' readers (I'm curious as to how this will commemts, lots of comments...?) At the end of this month I'm attending the NEOCRAFT conference in Halifax where I'll be moderating a panel, the topic being Global Craft. I'm in the midst of writing my opening comments and thought of this blog and it's seemingly geographically diverse (or so Google analytics tells me) readership and am wondering about others thoughts on those two simple, or perhaps far reaching, open-ended words - Global Craft. So I don;t want to steer any thoughts or comments in any particular direction, but instead would love to hear your thoughts, any and all thoughts on what the term Global Craft might mean to you and your practice. Thanks in advance for your responses and I promise to post my own interpretation of the term in an upcoming post, as it would only be fair.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Oh for the want of returning to Australia...

In the summer of 2006 I had the opportunity to travel back to Australia for a month-long visit, partially to re-visit my highly missed friends and furry companions (of the roo, koala and possum varieties) and partially to attend and present a paper at the Verge conference in Brisbane. While I was there I had the opportunity to meet an artist I had been long interested in meeting since she was an artist in residence at ACAD (Alberta College of Art and Design) in Calgary, Canada and I had fallen in love with an exhibition of her exquisite porcelain sculptures. The artist, Fleur Schell was as much of a delight in person as her work is to experience.

The main reason I bring her up now, beyond wanting to share her work with you, is that she also runs a residency program in Perth, Australia which I thought might be of interest. The SODA (Sculptural Objects Design Australia) residency program has 3 resident artists, Fleur Schell, Maree Mack and Karen Millar and was set up by Fleur as a means of bringing international artists to her own doorstep rather than constantly traveling for such inspiration and exposure to other artists and their work. It's genius really, build it and they will come... Now if only I could figure out a way of turning my humble little backyard studio into an international residency program...

Oh and the above image is a piece from a series Fleur has created for her little girl, a ceramic story book, which I do hope goes to print sometime soon.

Yet another Lark book opportunity

It seems that every few months there's another call by Lark Books for ceramic images, got to love them for that - and for the glossy, full colored publications of ceramic eye candy they produce!

Here's the latest call for submission:
500 Ceramic Sculptures

Juror: Glen R. Brown
Editor: Suzanne Tourtillott

Lark Books seeks images to publish in a juried celebration of international ceramic sculpture to be released in May 2009. Submissions may span the full range of contemporary ceramic sculptural practice, from representational and figurative to abstract, non-narrative work. Important note: Lark Books will only publish photos of entries containing text and images that are free of copyright, or for which the artist (or approved institution) holds copyright. Please do not submit images that you have previously submitted for other 500 series books. Please make sure that all installation works are professionally photographed.

Artists will receive full acknowledgment within the book, one complimentary copy, and discounts on the purchase of additional books. Artists retain copyright of their work. Entries must be postmarked by March 14, 2008.

For more info go to the Lark Book Website.

Galleries in Bristish Columbia

Well I've just recently returned from a well needed break and vacation visiting family in Victoria, taking the time (which we rarely give ourselves) to walk along the beach, marveling at the flowers still blooming everywhere (quite different from the snow that's beginning to fall outside of my window back home!) spending hours discovering the treasures in neat little consignment shops and eating marvelous food I didn't have to cook myself! And so while I was gone I admittedly did sorta shut down the ceramic part of my brain for a bit, and so now that I'm back I figured I'd better make up for that. So in the spirit of thinking of BC I've found a website with a number of listings of galleries in the island area for anyone interested in getting exposure for their work out there - it is after all a great tourist market! So check out the Crafts Association of British Columbia website for more info.

And here's a site for BC artist Margit Nellemann. The site is unfortunately still under construction, but I'm patiently waiting for an update as the work looks pretty interesting.

(and thanks to dad for the awesome picture taken on our hike to go and see the salmon run!)

Call for Entry - Irish Artists

The 411 GALLERIES asks for submissions from Irish artists working in small to medium sized solid sculpture and ceramic. This privately funded exhibition will run in March in Beijing PR China. Cost of transport of work will be covered as well as flight and accommodation for successful artists. The exhibition will be a mix of Chinese and Irish contemporary solid sculpture and ceramic.

The exhibition will also be an opportunity of cultural exchange between Irish and Chinese artists. Beijing has one of the most vibrant and exciting art scenes in the world. The exhibition will run for 2 weeks. Please send submissions including (Colour images including size )current CV to

A couple of upcoming shows

I just received an email from the Red Lodge Clay Center announcing that the artist Janis Mars Wunderlich is their featured artist this month. Check out their website for more images of her new work. I've been fascinated by her work for a while now, the playful nature coupled with harsh realities of childrearing. I think her work is rich with narrative and detail, speaking very personally regarding universal ideas.

And on a more local note (well local to me at least!) the Hand Wave Gallery will be hosting an exhibition of work by Jody Greenman-Barber whose work is filled with an energy and vitality expressing the inherent nature of the material pushed and pulled to its limits. I love her work and how it animates the clay into pots which virtually dance on the spot.

The Hand Wave Gallery also shows the work of Anita Rocamora whose work more recently has moved away from more organic/vessel based work towards intriguing figurative pieces whose surfaces are rich in layering of color and texture.