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Back to the art last

Happy New Year! 2020 sounds so futuristic doesn’t it? I do like the sound of this lovely, even, double-number-year much more than the year 2019. As with the dawning of each New Year, I have many resolutions, which I often struggle to adhere to, but this year feels different. I have discovered some practical strategies to keep me focused and have already begun putting these into action. The fact that I am here writing on my blog again is a clear indication of my renewed focus and I am determined to stay anchored throughout 2020.

My fragile and lightweight mixed-media sculptures at the Edwina Corlette Gallery space, Melbourne Art Fair, 2010

The past 2 years have seen my art centre on sculpture rather than on 2D work. Sculpture, was, in fact, my favourite subject during my first year at art school and although I switched to printmaking early on, I have continued to create objects, which have often become the subject matter of my printed images. These objects were never made of particularly sturdy or durable materials and this was not a problem until I began exhibiting and then selling my sculptures. The issue then, was that the sculptures were too fragile and broke easily. Some of them cracked a few years later and even after I repaired them, they continued to crack…argh.

Because of this, I decided to learn to work with sturdy, durable materials and ceramics was the natural medium of choice. As a child, I was excited to discover a clay-lined creek near our family home. I would head down there on the weekends and spend hours creating clay objects which I would then leave to air-dry on the large concrete pipe where the water came out. I even left a jar, should any passer-by wish to drop in a few coins in exchange for one of my little masterpieces. I am amazed now that I didn’t choose ceramics as a subject back at art school all those years ago! It was not even an option for some reason although there surely was a ceramic department at the school. Perhaps it was seen as craft rather than fine art. In any case, I have finally arrived and am happily ensconced in the world of clay.

Works created at a Sydney College of the Arts Research Residency in 2014. (1)

Ceramics is a rich and complex medium with seemingly limitless possibilities and a lifetime of techniques to explore, practice and apply. After my initial introduction at the European Ceramic Work Centre (EKWC), in 2013, I embarked on my ceramic journey with often frustrating if not devastating results. Suffice to say that the title of my solo exhibition at Artereal Gallery in 2014, was “Broken“. Since then, I have created ceramic sculptures, or often components of sculptures, with limited success. Clearly, I needed to learn more.

Work in progress, The Centre for ceramics in Berlin, 2018

In 2018 I undertook a 2.5-month residency at The Centre for Ceramics in Berlin. There I allowed myself to play with what I had previously learnt but at a more modest scale. I created relatively small figurative pieces and began creating moulds for a new gun series; this time based on little toy guns rather the elegant and fragile rifle forms I created in 2014. I even made my first cups and salad bowls. I had my own studio, was my own master and I was in seventh heaven!

Later that year I was awarded a Sunday Morning Grant to attend another 3-month residency at the European Ceramic Work Centre, now based in Oisterwijk, The Netherlands. With renewed confidence following the seemingly unbreakable success of my Berlin experience, I embarked again on larger sculptures and made use of the technical expertise to learn and apply new skills. My experience there could not have been more different from my first EKWC residency 5 years earlier. I was the happiest I have been in years! I had a huge studio, lots of lovely artists to connect with, a friendly and supportive team of technical experts and all that I needed at my fingertips. I finished that residency in early 2019 with the distinct feeling that, whilst there would always be more to learn, I could finally embrace the word “ceramicist.”

My studio at EKWC, December 2018

In fact, I was thrilled to be able to exhibit one of my recent ceramic sculptures in the EKWC jubilee exhibition at the Privee Kollektie Gallery in Heusden, The Netherlands last year! This year I plan to exhibit my sculptures in Australia.

Continuing my ceramic education, I attended a “Adventures in Animal Sculpting” workshop last year at The International Ceramic Studio (ICSHU) in Kecskemét, Hungary. Artist Susan Halls – a wonderful teacher and brilliant ceramicist, taught the course. I was very inspired and learnt so much in such a short period of time. Now I am more motivated than ever to find a ceramic studio here in Munich or install my own kiln here at home.

Seraph, a Peculiar Annes Sculpture, on the Poster for the Pulp Art exhibition at The Front Gallery, Canberra, 2019

Of course, there is more to tell but this blog entry is already long enough. Let’s just say that many more exciting activities have kept me busy over the last couple of years – loads of travel, an exhibition with artists Janet Parker-Smith and Carolyn McKenzie-Craig at IMPACT 10, Print Symposium in Spain 2018, an exhibition of the ‘Peculiar Annes” (2) collaborative sculptures at The Front Gallery in Canberra 2019, my continued winter teaching position at the National Art School, and more DJ work here in Munich.

So now you know what I have been up to. I look forward to keeping you up to date on my exciting art projects throughout 2020. Wishing you all much happiness, health and success for the New Year. Stay focused on what makes your life joyful and meaningful and make the most of 2020!

Footnote 1. Unfortunately, these sculptures ( and there were many more) all broke due to the fragility of their fine ceramic legs.

Footnote. 2. The Peculiar Annes is a collaborative team comprising myself and fellow Australian artist, Janet Parker-Smith. The work on the cover seen here is from an earlier formation of the Peculiar Annes which included a third Australian artist, Cleo Gardener.

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