Monday, 24 December 2007

Call for entry - Cup Show

The North America Ceramic Cup Show
Studio Angelico (US)
February 1, 2008 entry deadline

Juried from digital and slides. Fee: $5/entry. Juror: Andy Brayman. For prospectus, visit their website; or send SASE to Paul McMullan. Ceramics Department, Siena Heights University, 1247 E. Siena Heights Dr., Adrian MI 49221;

Seeking a resident studio potter.

Berea College Ceramic Apprenticeship Program
Application deadline: February 22

Responsibilities include: working with apprentices, active studio production of utilitarian ceramics for wholesale/retail market, assisting program director in maintaining large well-equipped facility and teaching one course per year. Requirements: MFA, BFA or equivalent; experience with studio approach to functional tableware. Studio space and materials are provided. Kilns currently available: gas reduction, electric, salt, wood, raku. Starts August 2008.

Send letter of application, resume, 20 slides/digital images (jpg on CD), and three recommendation letters to Tina Gebhart, Ceramic Apprenticeship Program, CPO 2162, Berea College, Berea, KY 40404. Inquiries: (859) 985-3849. Berea College is a four-year undergraduate liberal arts institution located on the western foothills of the Appalachian Mountains (Lexington, 45 minutes; Cincinnati/Louisville, 2 hrs). The College’s mission includes special commitments to the Appalachian region, interracial education, and serving students of limited financial resources. Full tuition scholarships and labor program involvement have long been distinctive features of a Berea education. For more information about Berea College, see their website.

Making Matters: Sustainability and Craft Practices

If you happen to find yourself near Owen Sound this January 19th you can take in a one day symposium at the Tom Thompson Gallery called Making Matters: Sustainability and Craft Practice. Speakers will address topics related to craft’s sustainability, its impact on the environment and local economies. This symposium is a regional outreach project of the Ontario Crafts Council. Check out the gallery website for more info and to register.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Online craft articles

For a little holiday reading check out the Canadian Crafts Federation/Fédération Canadienne des métiers d´art. They've just produced a new online library of archived and commissioned articles on Canadian Contemporary Craft.

Writers include Amy Gogarty, Sandra Flood, Virginia Eichhorn, Sandra Alfoldy, Paul Greenhalgh and Gloria Hickey.

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

The dreaded artist statement...

I for one hate writing an artist statement. I'll ponder each word endlessly, restructuring sentences till nothing is clear or making sense anymore. So I have alot of respect when I read a great statement that accentuates work appropriately, and is able to draw me into the layers of the work. Recently I've been looking at the work of Brendan Tang, a ceramic artist from Kamloops.

His work is exhibited in en feu and he set up a group for Canadian ceramic artists on facebook, which will hopefully take off as a great venue for critical feedback and exposure for great Canadian talent. His work is visually fantastic, mixing traditional imagery with contemporary technology, presenting lots of interesting questions for me regarding industry and development in ceramics, global influences and economy, and, well the list goes on and on, as good work should do - it poses more questions than it offers awnsers, challenging the viewer.

So with Brendan's permission I thought I'd actually post his artist statement to offer some more insight into the work for you all. I hope you enjoy!

Manga Ormolu – Artist’s Statement

Peoples throughout history have bought, adopted or pillaged technologies from one another, often through the mechanisms of war, trade and espionage. ‘Nations’ and ‘cultures’ are not discrete entities, but are rather continually evolving expressions of social history, economic imperialism and geo-politics.

Viewed in this way, globalization is a historic trend, but one that is accelerating. The rate and extent of globalization has increased exponentially through increasingly complex technological revolutions – agricultural, industrial, and now digital. Yet, at same time as this technological convergence, the cleavages between populations defined by race, religion and nation are being redrawn, redefined and reinforced. Clearly, “we” (patriots, developed, democratic) are not like “them” (insurgents, underdeveloped, oppressed). Globalization, translated through capitalism and nationalism, has not yielded cultural uniformity.

Manga Ormolu enters the dialogue on contemporary culture, technology, and globalization through the relationship between ceramic tradition (using the form of Chinese Ming dynasty vessels) and techno-Pop Art. The futuristic update of the Ming vessels recalls the 18th century French gilded ormolu, where historic Chinese vessels were transformed into curiosity pieces for aristocrats. But here, robotic prosthetics inspired by anime (Japanese animation) and manga (the beloved comics and picture novels of Japan) subvert elitism with the accessibility of popular culture.

Working with Asian cultural elements highlights the evolving Western experience of the “Orient.” This narrative is personal: the hybridization of cultures mirrors my identity as an ethnically-mixed Asian Canadian. My family history is one of successive generations shedding the markers of ethnic identity in order to succeed in an adopted country – within a few generations this cultural filtration has spanned China, India, Trinidad, Ireland and Canada. Cultural appropriation and assimilation seem like a natural part of my identity, a survival technique not uncommon among ethnic minorities.

While Manga Ormolu offers multiple points of entry into sociocultural dialogue, manga, by nature, doesn’t take itself too seriously. The futuristic ornamentation can be excessive, self-aggrandizing, even ridiculous. This is a fitting reflection of our human need to envision and translate fantastic ideas to reality; in fact, striving for transcendence is a unifying feature of human cultural history. This characteristic is in the unassuming, yet utterly transformable material of clay. Manga Ormolu, through content, form and material, vividly demonstrates the conflicting and complementary forces that shape our perceptions of Ourselves and the Other.

~ Check out Brendan's website for more great images and statements about his work.
Thanks for sharing Brendan!

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Ceramic competition

Call for entry for the International Ceramics Festival in Mino Japan.

Categories are Ceramic Design - factory produced pieces; Ceramic Design - studio produces pieces; and Ceramic Arts - unique creativity and techniques.
Entries will be accepted from 1 November, 2007.
Email info [at]
Deadline Closes 4 February 2008
All information you need is on the website.

Above image is one of the judge's award winners, work by Chie Masamori (Japan) titled: Sono (Garden)

International Triennial of Silicate Arts

Ceramic, glass and concrete artists from all parts of the world are invited to participate part in the 2nd International Triennial of Silicate Arts. This international event featuring some of the world's finest artists will be based on celebrating the traditional values while creating new directions and fields in the silicate arts for the 21st Century.

The theme for the 2008 Triennial is "SYMBOLIC & NARRATIVE"
Deadline December 30th, 2007
Check out the website for lots more details.

Friday, 14 December 2007

Happy friday...

Here's a quote i've had in my head in the studio today...

"Whoever said pleasure wasn't functional?"
Charles & Ray Eames

Have a great weekend!

Harbourfront Centre Annual Deadline

Call for Individual and Group Exhibition Proposals

Harbourfront Centre seeks exhibition proposals from professional contemporary artists for new works in fine art, craft, new media, design, architecture and photography.
Deadline: March 14, 2008

There are 10 exhibition spaces which are both traditional and unique. These venues are located within and outside York Quay Centre proper and range in size from an exhibition gallery that is 1400 feet square to individual vitrines which are 9 feet square. The exhibition schedule changes six times a year in all of the venues except the site specific spaces.

For more information, contact Marlee Choo at or by phone at 416.973.5379.

Or check out their website for a downloadable application form and images/blueprints of gallery spaces.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

The handmade, design, industry, east and west...

One of the interesting talks I attended at Neocraft was presented by Amy Gogarty titled “China on my mind” or, ceramics and the “new orientalism”. Gogarty's investigation brought into focus the practice of artists traveling to China and Japan to study and be inspired by the traditions and aesthetics of the regions, be it Leach and his followers or contemporary Western ceramists. What she questioned where the "less explored (..) contradictory issues of ethics, politics and culture that govern such exchanges in a period of extreme political, social and economic change." The paper, a new branch of research for the writer has been richly researched through direct contact and discussion with artists whose practices are incorporating travel and research in the region.

One such artist, who is working directly with industry in China is Janet Deboos whose research has undertaken exploring the relationships between the handmade and the industrially produced object and the ethics and aesthetics of production. She has traveled extensively to China to work with the Huaguang Company’s bone china design group in Zibo, working with the company's workers developing and designing molds, in the beginning from drawn designs and more recently from hand thrown models. The next stage is to work with the Rapid Prototype Unit at the Australian National University. Rather than put too much of this inspiring and timely research into my own words here are a few links so you can get it all first hand.

The first website, Design Hub has a video of her presenting the paper 'Design meaning making: making meaning design', at the 'Smart works' symposium at the Powerhouse Museum on 31 March 2007.

As the site states:
"Janet DeBoos believes that the priority that we give to different aspects of production will determine outcomes. These priorities can be (almost inevitably will be) altered by engagement with industry. In this talk, she examines changing priorities with respect to her experiences and attempts to make some judgement about their respective values."

This video is taken from the Smart Works Symposium on Design and the Handmade. And oh how I love technology - you can spend an entire day (should you be so luck as to have one to spare!) going over all of the talks as podcasts.

Here's some of the topics and speakers:
Peter Day (UK) - The Heartbeat Economy: surviving in a global world
Professor Xing Ruan - Ephemeral China/Handmade China
Rod Bamford: ceramics, NSW - Lost in translation: designed and made across cultures
Rebecca Eggleston: Designing Futures project, WA - Designs for a viable local industry
Robert Foster (F!NK and Co): metal, ACT - An organic process: the nexus between handmade and industry
Marc Harrison (Husque Pty Ltd):Qld - From waste to want? Sustainable design: recycled materials, macadamia shell
Alexander Lotersztain: design, Qld - Working between global manufacturing and encouraging village industries
Brian Tunks (Bison Australia): ceramics, ACT - Ceramic tableware: local employment; global market

There is also a publication that can be ordered through the site.

And Craft Victoria's Craft Culture website has a a great review by Sue Green of two new books called, Handmade in Melbourne and Freestyle: New Australian Design for Living which discuss Janet's work among other Australian designers/craftspeople.

You can also check out more on the Freestyle website, including all the participants in the exhibition, which brings together the work and stories of 40 outstanding designers. The book is available through their online shop.

Crafting exhibitions...

Yesturday I attended a meeting at our local craft council. It was open to the public and aimed to discuss the upcoming and current programming presented by the gallery. I'm admittedly quite opinionated as anyone who knows me can attest, so I went with reservations over how to address what I felt were issues, but with a keen interest in voicing those opinions. In the end the discussion was, I think, quite successful and proactive. It was interesting to hear that the Council also viewed itself as somewhat locked into its role of showcasing traditional crafts, selected based primarily on their merit of excellence in craftsmanship, over and above innovation, experimentation and conceptual challenges. We had two members of local artist-run centers also attend and it was encouraging to see that all of the galleries were aware of the gaps between their mandates of what to exhibit and the awareness that much of craft based practice seems to be left out in the cold unable to fit within the traditional parameters of craft councils, the competitive and sometimes unversed in craft theory artist-run-centres and the public gallery system which brings a whole lot of other issues to the table. Nothing is going to change overnight, it never does, except maybe the weather, but I left feeling that feeling of possibility, that change could be around the corner as a result of partnerships, collaboration and greater communication between art organizations. I love the feeling of being in a room full of people wanting change and all contributing great ideas as to how to bring that change about. It's as inspiring as going to see an amazing exhibition, and hopefully future amazing exhibitions will be the result of it all.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

ACAD Teaching opportunity

The Alberta College of Art + Design is one of only four publicly funded Canadian post-secondary institutions devoted exclusively to the advanced education of visual artists and designers. The college has recently entered into a vital new phase in its development and embraced a new mandate and vision that endorse a model of the institution as a laboratory for experimentation and as a catalyst for cultural development and creative inquiry into the arts and emergent cultural fields.

The college welcomes applications for the following position commencing in the fall semester of the 2008-2009 academic year:

Visiting Artist/Instructor – Ceramics
Eight (8) month appointment over two (2) semesters from August 27, 2008 to May 6, 2009

To complement existing instructional resources, this position will instruct four (4) six (6) hour long studio courses at all levels of the undergraduate BFA in Ceramics program. In addition, the successful candidate will receive a stipend equivalent to the instructional salary of two (2) six (6) hour long studio courses, towards research and studio practice. The successful candidate will also be required to mount an exhibition of their studio practice and research at the college.

The successful candidate will have an MFA or an equivalent degree or combination of education and professional experience in ceramics, previous teaching experience, a professional exhibition record as a ceramist, excellent technical skills and a wide knowledge of all aspects of the discipline, with a particular regard for the international ceramics profession. Applicants with a studio practice and teaching experience in the areas of experimental /interdisciplinary approaches ceramics are particularly sought for this academic year.

Please submit applications by February 29 , 2008 including: a letter of application; current curriculum vitae; the names and contact information for three (3) references; artist statements outlining philosophies and practices regarding teaching and studio practice; and a digital portfolio of your recent studio work containing twenty (20) images accompanied by a corresponding numbered list including titles, medium and size to:

Alberta College of Art + Design
Attention: Human Resources
1407 14th Avenue NW
Calgary AB Canada
T2N 4R3

Electronic submissions are preferred. Submitted materials will only be returned if accompanied by appropriate self-addressed envelopes/containers with sufficient Canadian postage or prepaid courier shipping forms.

For more information on the college, please visit our website at Alberta College of Art + Design is an equal opportunity employer and welcomes expressions of interest from all qualified applicants for consideration for this or other suitable vacancies. While we thank all applicants in advance for their interest, please note that only applicants selected for an interview will be contacted. In situations with several qualified candidates, preference will normally be given to Canadian citizens and permanent residents.

And here's a bit of work by current ACAD faculty to get you inspired.

Greg Payce:

Katrina Chaytor:

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Dimensions 2008

For those Artists living under the beautiful prairie skies such as myself, here is some information about next years' Dimensions Exhibition, the Saskatchewan Craft Council's annual Juried Touring Exhibition.

Growth in Excellence in Saskatchewan Fine Craft
Saskatchewan Craft Council’s Open, Juried, Touring Exhibition for 2008

The Saskatchewan Craft Council (SCC) is celebrating changes to our annual, open, juried exhibition with the theme of “Growth” in 2008. Interpret “Growth” literally, figuratively, spiritually, above all with creativity and innovation in Fine Craft. Details will be available in the Call for Entry Brochure in January 2008. We’re excited about the changes and we want to share that excitement to get you started on planning your entries.

® DIMENSIONS – GROWTH is open to all Saskatchewan residents.
® Entries will be new work of original design and exceptional execution in any craft medium interpreting the theme of “Growth”.
® Each craftsperson can enter two pieces (one may be a set or collaboration).
® Each entry will need a short statement about your interpretation of “Growth”.
® Entry Notification date will be February 29, 2008.
® Call for Entry brochures, on the SCC website, or at the SCC office, will be available after January 7, 2008.
® Delivery of works will be on April 1 and 2, 2008.
® Jurying session will take place April 3 and 4, 2008.
® The jurors’ public critique session will be on April 5, 2008 in Saskatoon.

For More Information:

Leslie Potter & Judy Haraldson
Exhibitions & Education Coordinators
Saskatchewan Craft Council
813 Broadway Avenue, Saskatoon, SK, S7N 1B5
Phone: 306-653-3616 ext. 25
Fax: 306-244-2711

Functional Ceramics - Call for submission

February 1, 2008 entry deadline

New York, Brooklyn
Ceramics at Work
March 1–April 25, 2008,
Open to functional work.
For an application, send SASE to Gloria Kennedy Gallery,
111 Front St. Gallery 222, Brooklyn 11201;;; (718) 858-5254.

Ceramic Cup Call for Submission

February 1, 2008 entry deadline

The North American Ceramic Cup Show
March 10–21, 2008
Juried from digital and slides.
Fee: $5/entry.
Juror: Andy Brayman.
For prospectus, visit;
or send SASE to Paul McMullan.
Ceramics Department,
Siena Heights University,
1247 E. Siena Heights
Dr., Adrian 49221;

more technical difficulties...

I know it's been a bit without a proper post, it seems that the technology is getting the better of me, or maybe going on a premature holiday break, first the missing photos, now I've gotten a few emails from people stating that their comments haven't been posted and this is not due to any editing on my part, I promise! Seems to be a glitch in the system. This morning I found one older comment hidden in the depths of back pages...regardless, i'm working on it and in the meantime feel free to just email me directly at and I'll post the comments myself. Sorry about the confusion!

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Very pleased to announce...

We have a new blogger among us!
You definitely have to check out Paul Scott's new blog Cumbrian Blue(s)
Now my daily reading has just gotten longer! Welcome Paul!

Monday, 3 December 2007

what's going on??

I seem to be having some technical difficulties today with posting pictures and pictures seem to be missing from previous posts, strange. Perhaps it's just my computer, but if you're having problems with the images as well, know that I'm working on it!


Sunday, 2 December 2007

Controversy of contextualising

Wow the last week has flown by and I have yet to post about the conference, so it's time to get going...

My first day in Halifax I began with a bit of gallery hopping before the conference started that afternoon and took in, among other things the exhibition "On the Table" at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, which was a fairly good overview with a nice catalogue, fun to go through, and definitely worth it, but the mood I was in it wasn't challenging my controversial, I'm here at this conference to think and be inspired nature.

There was however works by Shary Boyle's in the Sobey Art Award exhibition, which were great to finally see in person.

As luck would have it later that day I found all the controversy I could have asked for. At St. Mary's University the gallery was presenting an exhibition of Leopold Foulem's work which had enraged some students since it's opening reception and that day was hosting a discussion panel about the work inviting the public to attend and voice opinion about the exhibition with the artist in attendance.

The specific piece in question was one of his Santa series which made reference to the history of ceramic collectibles produced which represented stereotyped and racist imagery of African Americans. The piece by Leopold was a santa glazed in matte black with large glossy red lips and turned into, through the inclusion of found objects, a teapot. I'm choosing not to post an image of the work here as I am interested in the debate raised by the work, yet do not wish to cause any further upset in the public sphere through distributing imagery of the work in question. A web search of Leopold's work will most likely take you to the specific piece or others in which he makes similar references.

So there were a few things about the discussion that I found interesting as a practicing artist. Firstly the importance of being responsible for the work you put out into the public sphere, and it's adequate contextualization for the large variety of potential audiences that will view the work, either in person or in print or online. The crowd that attended the discussion drew obviously from two groups, one an audience academically knowledgeable in craft history and practice and the other, an audience made up of a more general public which although highly educated and well spoken, were not versed in ceramic history and context. To the latter group this work simply and without proper reasoning referenced a very hurtful and oppressive past, which still resonates in contemporary context on a daily basis. Being confronted with the imagery in a public gallery to them spoke of further stereotyping and oppression, rather than a reference to a disturbing past with the aim of furthering dialogue regarding the issue. The pairing of racial stereotype with the imagery of Santa Claus, a made-up commercialized figure also made the historical reference/narrative seem imaginary, or less serious.

Basically an issue to be dealt with was whether it was possible to separate representing racism from being racist. And was it possible for an artist of Caucasian dissent to work with such visual imagery and ideas with a thorough and respectful understanding of context and impact of such imagery.

While admittedly Leopold was confronted by a group of very angry audience members who were very challenging and questioning of his motives with the work, I felt that the artist, and this is regardless of how I feel personally about the artist or the work, did a poor job of properly contextualizing his work for the audience. He continued to re-iterate that the work was about the art/craft debate and the stereotypes and prejudices that exist in that discussion, but could not justify or clarify his motivation for the use of this particular visual imagery. He stated that he did not like to self-censor his work and that he often worked intuitively with ceramic imagery and history. I guess that made me question my own practice as I do self censor, well maybe better stated as self edit works after they are made based on how I perceive them to be read by the viewer. If a work has the potential to be mis-interpreted to the extent of having an opposing reading to that which was intended I would be likely to edit the piece. That is not to say I'm not interested in multiple readings of work, in fact I love to discover new interpretations that viewers have of my work, but when dealing with more charged and confrontational imagery, one has to be more careful and responsible in my opinion.

I guess what I really noticed in the discussion was the way in which the exhibition was limited in its ability to reach a larger, less elitist audience with the theme and content of the work due to poor contextualisation of the work by the artist and the gallery. But then should the work not speak for itself? Must we question the role of the gallery/artist statement to frame the work and is that what we want to rely upon to get our ideas out? Or is it the work itself that should speak? So what happens when that backfires and the work says things we don't intend, when it takes our audience down a path we did not wish for them to travel down? Are we responsible for this turn off course?

One of the audience's comments struck me in reference to my own figurative work where in I try to speak of global humanitarian issues through my own framework and positioning relative to the events rather than from a stance of empathy or mere re-representation which I fear can further victimize. He stated that being apologetic for history or events but still using that particular imagery and stereotypes from your position of privileged doesn't make it acceptable, since you can't remove yourself from that distance and that position of power and privilege. Does this mean though then that only minority artists can speak of racial issues, only those in war torn countries can speak of the horrors of war? Must we as artists only speak to issues of which we have first hand knowledge? For me that would be problematic as I want to engage with larger issues than the pettiness of my own privileged life. I think that the engagement and presentation of different perspectives is what contributes to greater understanding of our humanity and what is taking place in the world; also providing the potential for future change, growth and the end to such problems and injustices. But what I really walked away with that afternoon was a understanding of the grave importance of contextualizing your work, of being responsible for any and all readings of that work, and of the artists' responsibility to their audience, and not just the ideal audience which will bring a similar wealth of experience and knowledge to the work, but to any audience member, with their own perspectives and history. I guess it reminded me about why I sometimes despise academic art for it is elitist and limited in its scope. It is the reason that I love to make functional work as well as sculptural work, because I feel a need to invest in dialogues that impact our everyday, which we can each relate too, contribute to and grow from.

I don't know, there is still a lot for me to digest from that discussion. And alot of questions I need to answer for myself, especially now as I'm in the process of developing a new exhibition of figurative works, engaging a variety of topics, many controversial. I know that in the back of my mind at all times will be my responsibility as an artist, in this privileged role, to say something of interest and relevance in an appropriate and respectful manner.

All in a day's work right?

More about the conference to come so stay tuned...