Sunday, 7 October 2012

Settelments and Houses

Since very young I have been drawing houses and villages. I was not the only child worrying about housing and dreaming about the perfect house. It is a common for children to draw and imagine houses. I choosed my first boyfriend at the age of four, one of my neighbours, on the bases that he knew how to build a house, he showed me how to make bricks. His father was a builder and they were renovating their house, and for some reason they were making bricks. It was my first contact with ceramics but I did not realize at that time, or did I?. The house we were living in at that time was old and quite interesting. It belonged to my father's uncle. It was divided in three apartments, connected not just in the exterior but also through corridors and narrow folding ladders. It was for me a castle and my kingdom. My aunty and uncle used one of the apartments which was on top of the garage, but they were just coming for the weekends, my cousins were quite exciting, one was studying photography and the other was always traveling around the world and bringing little treasures, objects from exotic parts of the world. The first floor was occupied by a family and a seamstress/ couturiers workshop. The workshop was a universe of gossip/stories, nice or not fabrics, fashion magazines, and the tools machinery of the trade, so interesting. I used to spend a lot of time there, sometimes hidden so they would talk more freely. Our apartment was on the top floor an attic but spacious, I loved it. But we moved to our own house a few years later and I loose my kingdom, and my community. Our new house was bigger, but no corridors leading to workshops, we were on our own. It felt cold, boring, square and lonely. I never liked it. I wanted to move somewhere else. I am still looking for a replacement of the lost house/community of my childhood. I have not find it. And with the years it seems more and more difficult to find something like that. I have learned with the time that there were/are/will be many problems among people living together. With the years I have got to elaborate/consider how to better divide spaces, how to get the best of sunlight and how would it be possible to make a house more self sufficient on its energy consumption and waste disposal. And many other details concerning materials, building methods and concepts. I ended up been a ceramist and not an architect. I like the making processes too much. I build from time to time ceramic houses. Sometimes they will swim, slide on ice
or walk, others are settlements integrated into nature and others are ruins recovered by nature. I keep building

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Orchestrated exhibition with Collective Studios

These two pieces are exhibited as part of the curated show Orchestrated, organized by Collective Studios ( Funny enough and ironic I found a description that suits very well my work in a book dedicated to toys and called Plastic Culture. They say a toy is an abstraction distilled into concrete form, a drawing that becomes real leaving the two dimensional world and entering our three dimensional one. A dream, idea made corporeal.

Sunday, 17 June 2012


Potfest at the palace. The Scone Palace is located north of Perth less than 10 minutes drive. It was my first time in this city. The location had a fairy tale atmosphere. We were set on a garden of lush green grass, huge trees and flowers, not far from burial grounds. From time to time peacocks will wander passing by the marquees and enjoying the attention of us all. A deer was posing not far away in the distance. It was such an amazing setting. The Scone Palace was the home of the stone of destiny, none knows were this famous stone is now. It got stolen but later on it turned out that what was stolen was just a replica. The original is still hidden somewhere. As usual at the marquees there was a very convivial atmosphere among the potters exhibiting, a festival feeling, including the possibility of rain and cold windy weather. I saw familiar faces from my previous experience at Potfest in 2010, that time we were at Stirling, good memories :) So it was lovely to catch up and meet new people/new work, I felt almost like with family, in the good way. I repeated my adventure trip of two years ago, travelling up from London, carrying all the pots and props with me in two suitcases, one bag on my front and another on my back. I survived again this time. I should mention, the help I received during my journey carrying my weighty suitcases by people of different gender, age, profession and disposition. I am very grateful for the help and the conversations. The display was good and colorful, maybe too many pots on the table, but once I brought all that weight with me, the pots managed to confuse my display logic. I am very happy with my tableware lately, the pots are fresh and earthy with lush colors, warm and joyful. So I was very eager to show them to the people of Scotland But even if it was not a total disaster, there were maybe just a third (optimistic) of the visitors compared to my previous experience at Stirling. It was quiet. Nonetheless we all manage to sell and get some feedback on our work. There were maybe too many things going on that long weekend/bank holiday. One of them was Perth celebrating to become a city, before it was a town. One of the days there was a parade of thousand bagpipe players down in Perth. There is no picture as I missed it. I thought I should not leave my stand unattended. All in all I had a great time and I am looking forward to the next Potfest.

Monday, 7 May 2012

My time at Jingdezhen

A week has passed since I returned from China. I am still overwhelmed by all the inputs I was exposed too. The reason for my trip was to take part in an arts residency offered by Jingdezhen International School, more precisely by their WOW TAO DIY CENTRE ( Ceramic Training Base) This ceramics department is run a bit like a business. Its facilities were free to use for the university students and those on a residency but other visitors payed a fee for their ceramic experience. The department consisted of a large studio space where visitors are show and invited to try different methods of ceramic form making , eg, throwing, slab building, coiling, pinching, press moulds, and also how to work the surface of the clay before it is fired. Cabinets were filled with examples of what can be done. This room also contained the space reserved for the artists in residence .
Another room was dedicated to the surface decoration techniques ,focusing on over-glazes on shiny porcelain wares. Tthe brush work as I tend to call it is one of aspects I most admire from the Chinese way of the clay At the basement of the building there was a gallery/shop displaying wares from local workshops. WOW TAO was visited by tourist visiting Jingdezhen, school children groups, groups from other universities traveling around China, and individuals interested in knowing a bit more about the ceramic processes. It is located nearby the Old kilns site which are now transformed into a museum/ park The mood was always good and playful. I had a plan for what to do during my time at Jingdezhen... but I ended up doing something else. On my way to the center, a very nice walk crossing a patch of forest, passing by the old kiln site and a big pond, I got captivated by the assemblages nature creates. After a strong rain has washed the soil and drags whatever is on somewhere else, sometimes configuring very interesting composites of random objects glued with clay and dried out by the sun. Those objects(composites) related to my original plan of creating an object through the assemblage of various components found in the same environment. I wanted to collect the shapes of objects and reproduce them in clay but organizing them in a different way without following a preconceived idea or patron.
There was no plaster available the fist days so I started playing with the clay to experience its possibilities. I started the 3D version of one of my drawings, a nomadic village. I also started the construction without moulds of a preliminary composite catching textures with slabs of clay which would be assembled following the structure of a nature's composite found in my way to the studio. Nature's composite was just the starting point not something to copy.
The clay was very different to what I am used too, and I also forgot to bring my favorite tools. The clay was quite sticky and not very plastic, passing very fast from a very wet state to a stiff dry , I observed when throwing, it was easier for me to use more clay pulling thicker walls in order for the shape to stand. A good deal of trimming was required afterwards So I used different timings and gestures to shape it in form, weather hand building or throwing. I even got to do something I have not though about in time, a tile, a puzzle shape to fit with each other creating a big drawing. I just got to the state of making the first mould, press on mould Another quality of the clay was that after leather hard it was very easy to carve, it was a pleasure to carved it. It was better to leave time and thought for this moment as the surface texture could be worked to a high degree. .My work at the studio was then more focused on learning the possibilities of this particular clay. I just have time to experience the building processes and not the glazing and brushwork on the surface. That was a bit disappointing, but I have in my mind the though of coming back to finish my experience. The possibilities for glazing and final brushwork of a ceramic piece are huge. During my stay I was exposed to so many different artworks that I was full of ideas I wanted to try. One special place in Jingdezhen is the sculpture factory. It sits on the grounds of an old factory, nowadays it is occupied by various workshops, galleries and living in units, a caff and common areas It is a ceramicists neighborhood. very lively. They run a ceramics market every Saturday. On Friday evenings there are lectures in the big hall given by local and international artists. But there is always something going on. It is a good place to get an idea of the ceramic work produced in Jingdezhen, and how to display it.
The ways of displaying artworks caught my attention. It is something I need to improve personally. I justify myself on this by my usual lack of time and little capacity to transport props plus work when I am exhibiting outside my studio. To add I also have a non seller attitude, the artwork should be the focus not the theatrics of display. But nowadays people, due to be exposed to too much data, just browse over a landscape The artworks need to be positioned and enhanced by their display to help them to grab the attention and consideration of the public. I am not talking here of installations, that is another world apart. All Jingdezhen was populated by little ceramic workshops, galleries and shops selling materials and finalized work. I could see from my window 11th floor a landscape of flat roofs, terraces at different levels with pots drying on them.