Monday, 25 November 2013

Deja Poo and We Have Seen All This Crap Before

An Instagram short film
There’s nothing new under the sun I was told when studying ceramics. A bowl is a bowl is a bowl. So there should be no need for status envy among artists. With the internet any new idea is quickly consumed by Korean or Chinese manufacturing markets and spat back at us as the new thing.
This year everyone is taken by pastel coloured cups and saucers in old kitchen configurations and as ceramic artists we can all produce that style if we want and if the market demands it. There are some who are more technically proficient at consistent production and I admire them for it and for their dedication to glaze development and clay research to produce a good product. They deserve success. Jumping on the band wagon to produce the latest style is a soul destroying enterprise because there will always be the masters and then endless look alikes all undercut by mass produced product from Asia.
Recently I held a sale at my studio and I put out an array of objects that ranged from what I thought the market wanted to some of my treasures that I have held onto for several years in my studio. I held my breath as some of my favourite objects were picked up and caressed and replaced on shelves and part of me sighed with relief that they were going to stay with me longer, until the buyers returned and gathered them up.
At the bottom of the price range I disposed of smaller items which were test samples for glazes or foot styles, or miniature dimensions of bigger forms. They were what I would refer to as my thinking process. Objects which have been in the studio and handled hundreds of times as I mull over whether the glaze feels nice or should be on an interior or exterior, whether it can take colour additions, whether the colour survived a firing etc. These objects were picked over just as fastidiously and my favourites all went for coin. So even at the bargain end people are making aesthetic decisions and recognizing a creative thought process that they want to connect to.  It was gratifying to watch people who had the time to circulate and connect one piece with another and juxtapose disparate pieces to create a new aesthetic for themselves.
All my years of teaching were about helping children to know that they had all the resources they needed for a great life within themselves. The greatest of these resources was imagination and the other was synthesis. Big corporate entities work overtime to stamp this out of us. Billions are spent on campaigns to make us fearful of being different, and at the same time urging us to buy “unique” and prestigious purchases as seen on the big screen and associated with luxury and fame. By creating envy of the luxury classes a viral fever can be promoted that unsettles the human heart and fills us with insecurity
Facebook feeds into this fever with its instruction to “be the first to like this”. Huh? What for?
Being the first to like something or own something is part of the consumer virus that feeds the throw away society. Because just as soon as you have finished paying it off and all those to whom you have passed on the envy virus have propagated and copied you, what you have is no longer unique and you need to throw it away, just in case people think you are copying!
So I have decided that my next year’s work is not going to be about catering to anyone’s taste but my own. There will be less work but with the aim of more exploration. No mass production for me.
The world is divided into two groups those who want to be uniquely the same as everyone else and those who just don’t fit in. I am going to design for the second group. They are my favourite sort of people. The odd bods, the crackpots, the cranky ones, the ones with the most interesting minds. They are the ones who fill me up.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Gozer and Forward Movement

Back in March I started this blog after winning an award at Warranwood Art Show from one of the sponsors, Gozer. Thanks Gozer! It was encouraging and inspirational in my little world to receive some tiny recognition.
In my upbringing, windfalls were few and far between, so I always wanted to convert them into something memorable or significant. There was one occasion, where I remember this thinking first began. My brother had a winning ticket in the Grey Sisters charity raffle and won a 2 metre Christmas stocking which was delivered to our house on a trailer. It was wrapped in orange mesh and bulging with gaudy gifts and a toxic assortment of sugary treats. We had collectively never even conceived of something so magical in our fantasy filled lives.

Technically it was Tom’s ticket that won but since none of us actually had any money to buy tickets and were unaware that any were bought on our behalf it was an uncomfortable boast for him. It seemed the monstrosity of greedy indulgence sat in our back room (leaned at an awkward angle to fit under the low ceiling) for only a couple of days, and was the subject of much late night parental discourse and during the daylight hours kept us children occupied with much selfish squabbling and “baggsing “of items under the mesh.

Eventually superstition won over, and our mother convinced us that it was unhealthy for us to have such an object in our midst and to create envy amongst all the neighbours so we were to choose one object each and the rest would be shared with the children at...wherever! The frenzied panic of making a single choice began and somehow nothing looked quite as beautiful or substantial on closer scrutiny. Our choices were final and I cannot for the life of me remember what I chose because I was still full of envy about everybody else’s choices and their wonderful sense of discernment. I remember being enchanted by the plastic holly so maybe that was what I chose!
A few days later our annual Christmas card from Grandma came and we all got the same thing-$1.00.

It was a much anticipated dollar and in my little head it had been spent a million times and grown to epic proportions. I had saved all the children in Africa, I had bought a tin of 72 Derwents and I had still had enough to buy the most economical selection of lollies at the milk bar with a few coins over to tide me through to next Christmas and Grandma’s  next dollar. The dollar was so much more valued than the gaudy stocking because it was in a dimension equivalent with my imagination and allowed my imagination to grow with it. I did manage to eke it out for the summer and spare a coin for the collection plate at church and then reverted back to world of fantasy and empty pockets in a world of wild fruit trees.
The Gozer prize was just the right size to say “Someone believes in you this time so make that grow.”
 I have taken the responsibility of a prize and converted it into a year of growing. This blog has now reached nearly 60 postings. Some people read it and I send a special thank you to all the Latvian robots that register on my stats!

I have had to learn to manipulate images and connect links. I have developed a facebook page for my ceramics, designed and developed a business card, connected with other bloggers and artists around the world.
My image manipulation skills have developed slowly but consistently, and are helping me breathe new life into a passion I have held since childhood -that of creating images.

 I put a wish out there earlier to collaborate with someone, and 2weeks ago I collaborated in a small way to help the children of Africa to get some education, by holding a sale of ceramics with my friend Rosy who is going to climb Mt Kilimanjaro to raise funds for UNICEF.
Another little collaboration is coming to fruition this week in the release of merchandise for Opera Australia’s Ring Cycle produced by Ingrid Tufts and carrying some of my little images.

There have been ups and down and flat, flat feelings but there has been forward movement that is shaping itself slowly out of the great big cloud of imagination out there.
Maybe tomorrow the next tiny step in my plan will bear fruit.