Showing posts from 2015

Kipling's Kim.

One Sunday afternoon, waiting for the art program, I watched the boy's own adventure movie "Kim".

It's based upon Rudyard Kipling's book by the same name.

Rudyard Kipling was the first english-language writer (and youngest ever), recipient of the Nobel Prize in Literature. 1

Not surprisingly "Kim" was a highly enjoyable ripping yarn set in colonial India.

At high school I studied India's history, including the Partition of British India into India and Pakistan.

Then in 1983 I spent a few months wandering around southern India.

While watching it I also reflected on my indirect link to Kipling via his father.

Kipling's farther was simultaneously the first principal of the Mayo School of Arts and the first curator of the Lahore Museum, just next door.  This was the first art college in Northern India/Pakistan and  "designated the premier art institution". 2

In 2006 I was an invited by this now National College of Arts, to spend a month …


Over the last few days I've removed 6 wheelie bins of rubbish from the studio, as we prepared to hold our 15 year birthday party exhibition in the studio...

The whole studio was packed away behind false walls, professional lighting hired, and the space was for the forth time in 15 years, converted into a professional art gallery.  I moved 2.6 tonnes of limestone in to and then out of the space, to create plinths.

Between 200-300 people joined us to view the art, eat, drink, listen to the music, dance and celebrate.

Read more here.   View more on the studio Facebook.


TIP: who is a good art teacher?

The following is a draft guide for what to look for when selecting a good quality course and teacher.

It looks like a hot topic at the national level within the ceramics profession, and possibly with the wider arts community, as governments exit art teaching, and an unregulated market emerges.

What do you think? 

What advise do we give to the consumer in researching independent classes and teachers?

Leave your comments at the bottom.

The following is a general guide for what to look for when selecting a good quality course and teacher.

Class size?

Larger classes are cheaper, as the teacher's wage is spread across the group. 

In small classes, you will pay more per lesson, but your experience is customised to suit your experience and ability.

In large classes you learn at the pace of the slowest, or fastest person.

In large classes you compete for teacher assistance with 15+ other students.

Smaller classes allow more individual student-teacher interaction, custo…

Advise to Secondary School Arts Students

Hello Mr Hay!
My name is ............................. and I am a Art Specialist Student at ..................................  ...

I was wondering if it was alright to ask you a few questions in regards to my assignment to which I could not find the answers to online. Please do not feel obligated to answer in great detail, or even at all if you do not feel comfortable in doing so. 
Q1. What would you consider to be your art movement? From my knowledge it would be a sub movement of Contemporary Art.
Q2. Biographical information: What is your date of birth? (I’m sorry, I hope you don’t mind me asking) How do you think your family and home life have influenced what you do today?
Q3. What would you consider to be your 2 greatest artistic encouragements and/or influences?
Q4. As a paper clay artist what are your most commonly used/ required technical skills and do you feel this techniques echo your particular style?
Q5. What would you consider to be your top 2 proudest pieces that you’ve created…

Innovative, Avant-Garde, Experimental Artist or just another hair-brain ideas?

There is a lot of myths and quicksand around these terms, particularly in the arts.

Maybe my fumblings here will trigger your own insights?

Back in 2000, in her book Paperclay and other clay additivesAnne Lightwood stated

It is hard to describe the work that he makes.  It is totally original, fitting into no known category and not seeming to come from any recognisable ceramic tradition, but rather to derive from the way in which animal structures are built.  It includes elements which appear to be taken from partly eroded anthills, or coral reefs, or papery wasps' nests chewed from old wood, which look delicate but are actually very strong.
To a northern Scot such as I am, his work seems to epitomise the land from which it comes: an alien continent in a different hemisphere, full of heat and light, space and sudden flashes of intense colour.  (emphasis added) Lightwood 2000
These comments still surprised me many years later, after all I had studied ceramics at high school, three y…

Freebie anyone?

looking back I have fond childhood memories of making things in clay

There is a lot of talk about cutbacks in school and art programs in 2015,

so while I can't fix the problem,

but maybe I can help plug a couple of gaps appearing:

So, for 2015 I'm offering a free, one day paper clay in school workshop/AIR.

To the first two W. Australian schools who contact me, and who doesn't have a dedicated art teacher.

Past workshops I have given are at

It's not much, but I'll try it for the year and see how it goes.

If there is a lot of demand, then maybe I will need to consider: ?

Contact details on my website.

Update: 3 January 2016 Offer again on this year.

Freer than California, s bigger than Texas

Most artists with a ceramic background know how Voulkos, Mason, Price, Arneson, Gilhooly, Shaw and others widened the expressive possibilities of clay.  They moved it outwards from traditional function ware, towards larger scale, sculptural work.

In California in the 1950s and 1960s the art climate was open to experimentation. Physically and psychically removed from the New York art world, a California artist felt little restrained by the East Coast's hierarchical and traditional definitions of fine art.  The less formal California life-style also encouraged a personal and artistic freedom... 1

A similar sort of thing has happened within more recent times in Australia.

Wherever I travelled overseas, I kept hearing that Australia (and Canadian) ceramics is more adventurous, more exciting.

This could be due to the appearance of the regular, truly international ceramic journals; Ceramics Art and Perception, and Ceramics Technical, both produced and edited by the late, constantly glo…


The digital disruption of the arts currently underway has a couple of unanticipated consequences, that I am just starting to tease out.

In discussions with Mark: from Harvison Gallery,  and Dirk: a GIS expert, it has become clear that institutional changes in the arts will mean we, as artists may need to change how we do some things.

A decade or so ago when the WA state government art gallery acquired one of my works, I was required to provide information on both the work and myself.

This information was stored in the gallery's library, which in turn was used by curators, writers, collectors and the public to research works and artists.

A few years later, as a cost saving measure, the library was moved 200 metres across to the State Library of WA (SLWA), which also contains the  J S Battye Library of West Australian History.

Now there plans afoot to reduce services at SLWA, as a cost cutting measure.

Not before too long I expect that this small library will quietly fade away  (…

No storm in a tea cup?

Am I a Mug? Above is an image of my ceramic porcelain sculpture on a tall cup.
Bought for less than the price of the clay, glaze and firing, from my redbubble  folio.
Laughing our heads off, in the studio this afternoon: the very idea of my artworks printed out on leggings, bed coverings ... 
On a more serious note, is printing images of my porcelain artwork onto mass produced porcelain cups a capital offence in the ceramics community?
Post modern example?
Alternatively, ridiculing  "CONCEPTUAL ART".
Or just the reality of what has happened to ceramics in Western Australia over the last couple of decades.  Is ceramics an economically obsolete craft form in Western Australia?
What do you think? Scandal?
Or don't care, just want to go buy your own Graham Hay Mug?*

*Note, just before buying you get to chose between the tea cup and mug

No artist is an island

One of my students texted me today, to congratulate me for my work appearing in an article "Ten of the Best" in The West Australian newspaper today.

In my reply I thanked her for bringing it to my attention.

I also thanked Cherie for her support over the years it took me to make it.

(Years before she had also helped me obtain the kiln in which most of the work was fired.)

I later clarified my thoughts in a conversation with fellow studio artist Carol Rowling.

This is a summary and expansion of that conversation.

While my motivation to create good art may contribute to this small success, is only part of the story.

Success never comes overnight. The ninety-nine percent perspiration, one percent luck rule also applies in the arts.

But this too, does not fully explain how I was able to dedicate two and a half years to making one, two piece artwork.

One of the reasons why people work together, in any organisation. and in my case the Robertson Park Artists Studio, is it makes…

Making spaces for Art

As a critic once wrote:

"... artists gotta to make art ... '

But where?

A few months ago I reached out to Maria Miranda, who is writing a PhD on artist's spaces

Really I can't recommend enough, that you read her blog

She has been uncovering all sorts of nocks and crannies where real art is been made around Australia.

I recommend you start at her earlier blog entries and work forward.

Maria also alerted me to the local  Paper Mountain's forthcoming second exhibition and forum on Artist-Run Initiatives (ARI), this time with a national focus. Unfortunately both their events look to be too narrow in focus: perhaps as would be expected for such a young organisation, focusing only on it's immediate (chronological and geographic) peers.

I know of at least half a dozen other local collective ARI and Artist Run Spaces (ARS)  which are missing from their list.

ARI is a new slogan and label for those artists studios with a government grant se…

The Death of the Artist—and the Birth of the Creative Entrepreneur.

Key extracts from insightful article by William Deresiewicz:

"Hard-working artisan, solitary genius, credentialed professional—the image of the artist has changed radically over the centuries. What if the latest model to emerge means the end of art as we have known it? 
As art was institutionalized, so, inevitably, was the artist. The genius became the professional. 
The institutions that have undergirded the existing system are contracting or disintegrating. Professors are becoming adjuncts. Employees are becoming independent contractors (or unpaid interns). Everyone is in a budget squeeze: downsizing, outsourcing, merging, or collapsing. 
Still, it also is an opportunity. The push of institutional disintegration has coincided with the pull of new technology. 
The Internet enables you to promote, sell, and deliver directly to the user, and to do so in ways that allow you to compete with corporations and institutions, which previously had a virtual monopoly on marketing a…

goldfield grave digging and more...

Copy of a immigrant's 1864 letter to his mother and son:  goldfield grave digging and more... *

"JUNE 16 1864

Dear Mother & Friends,
We are very anxious to hear from you, as yet we have not heard from any one in England. I wrote to you 4 months ago, also to Ben and to Mr Jenkins my late shop mate at Hill & Sons.
I have sent by the same mail as this, an order for 5 pounds for our dear boy and much regret not having been able to send any before.

 It is made payable to Mary Hay and sent by William Hay but when you write to us please direct for W. E. Hay as there is a W. Hay here and I had one of his letters delivered to me in mistake 
 you may judge my disappointment when I opened it. 
 The order is made payable at the Office, Tottenham ( ? ) Road. 
 should they ask my address it is Wilsons Gardens, Tuam St, High Street, Christ Church. 
 I regret to say that things in general are not as promising as when I last wrote to you
 there are so many ship loads of emigrants comi…

Welcome to my (studio) World.

Just for Western Australians

This is just for Western Australians.

Up to now, institutions and groups have organised all my dozens of previous paper clay workshops.

I've never organised it myself.

However you keep asking for an inside view of my studio and methods.

So, as my studio classes are full and technology has changed, I've done it!

I now offer, open to the public, paper clay workshop in my Perth studio.

These are small workshop, of about 6 people.

Welcome to my studio!

Note: if you miss out on a workshop, click on the "Wait List" button on the top right hand side of the course page.  You can register your interest, and you will receive an immediate email when I post the next workshop.  Plus it'll give me an indication of all your interest and preferred frequency.

Of course, you will still be able to find my other workshops organised by others here.

All the best, wishing you a happy and creative future.


Art for whom? vs what art, and by whom?

Most art laws tries to bring together

two opposing objectives, 
the pursuit of professional excellence  and  wider community participation.
Classic Us vs Them, or Them and Us binary thinking.
But we are not alone in Australia with this problem.  

Seeing our common dilemmas from another culture provides a fresh perspective.

"Freshness" does not garantee a solution for ourselves, but, at the least it may make it easier to live with our dilemma.

A Finnish  artist wrote
"...  I was invited to take part in a panel to discuss the topic of ‘for whom should art be made?’ 
The discussion centred on whether art should be made for a professional arts audience or for a wider public, and what the need was for applied arts and societal arts in today’s society in general. 
I remained silent for most of the discussion, as I felt I could not grasp the point of the question. 
The question seemed to portray art as a specific kind of a ‘product’, which was manufactured by professionals an…

I have no idea what I'm doing...

One of the most embarrassing things after giving a paper clay workshop is viewing video of my demonstrations.

Luckily the cringe factor diminishes slowly over time.

I've just re-discovered some video from a workshop over two years ago, that I gave in Khnemu Studio, Michigan, USA.

In a fit of madness I had decided to demonstrate how to make something I had made over 14 years ago,  and only once since,  for a demonstration 6 years ago at Desert Dragon Pottery, Phoenix.

I'm now unsure what induced the madness, but a throw away comment I made during the video motivated this blog.
The orthodox for demonstrations is to show what you're good at, which means showing techniques you have used thousands of time in the studio over the last decade or so.
There's one serious problem with this safe route.
It makes the technique look very easy and the result fantastic, but is very difficult for audience members to duplicate successfully, particularly beginners.
By making a "wonk…