Saturday, May 16, 2015

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.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

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 globetrotting Australian Janet Mansfield.   Consequently overseas readers were exposed to the best ceramics from around the world, with a healthy disproportion number coming from Australia.  So non-Australians finally got to see what we were doing.

Or maybe we were just becoming more adventurous, more exciting. Lets look at why this might have happened:

Similar to west coast USthe 1950s and 1960s,  Australia (and even more so Western Australia) is now universally known for a laid back culture.  So we might enjoy and feel a similar creative freedom. 

There is also a east coast, west coast difference in Australia, just like in the US. Perth in Western Australia is 4000 km (2500 miles) away from the larger, older and more conservative Sydney. 

Perth also has a mild Mediterranean climate, with a much more sunny (3,200 hours sunlight annually)  and less humid climate than Sydney, or the other east coast Australian cities.

The population hugs the sea coast and its beautiful beaches, with most living within a half hour drive to the sea.

Western Australia has huge, wide open spaces: at 2.5 million square kilometres (1 million square miles).

It is a third of the Australian landmass,  and is five times bigger than Texas,  or six times the size of the UK.

With space and distance comes both physical and psychological freedom.

Yet it only has 2.5 million people, with most living in one city; Perth.  So less people means less competition, less rush, less stress.

With less people comes a greater need to "do" things oneself.  A wider skill set is needed, as there is often no one who nearby who can do it for you. With no one to do it for us, or show us, we just figure out our own, with often unique ways of doing things.

With less people, there is greater need to work together to make things happen (a sort of small town thinking in a city).  Everyone contributes, to create communal resources and events.

It's a young state, with a Parliamentary government only created in 1889, so there is less overly complex and redundant rules and regulations.

With its physical isolation, youth, and wealth (it produces just under half of Australia's export income) comes also a fierce independent spirit.  An 1933 WA referendum voted overwhelming for separate from Australia, but this was thwart, and is still a source of local frustration.

With the disappearance of ceramics from Universities and Technical college, in it's place has emerged clusters of ceramic artists and student around independent, self funded studios.  Free from the straight jacket of dusty, decades old curriculum... 

So, watch this space...

1. Marshall, R., Foley, S. (1981) Ceramic Sculpture: Six Artists, Whitney Museum of American Art, NY, USA. p10 


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  (a few years ago I cut up a  Who's who in the arts book that I bought from the Library's second hand bookshop).

Mark lamented the disappearance of the dozen top commercial art galleries in Perth, and their meticulus records, and so the essential breadcrumb trail that provides  provenance of artworks.

I suppose now it will be up to artists to collect these sort of records and when they die, have make sure their estate has access to everything (an online example).

Given this digital revolution, many artists like myself are now recording the production of our artworks, not just the final work.  Instagram has become the platform of choice for many potters and artists. Mine?

Now if I could just find someone willing to edit all my video into short movies - hint hint dear reader.

(*belated post)

No storm in a tea cup?

An image of my ceramic sculpture on a  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


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