The Journal of Australian Ceramics : The Journal of Australian Ceramics 522 July 2013, Page 100

The Journal of Australian Ceramics : The Journal of Australian Ceramics 522 July 2013, Page 100.

I am very excited to announce JAC has published my first article in its 52/2 July 2013 edition pages 98-101. It is my perspective as a graduating student on the need for education and widening skills base for those involved in the visual arts.

Thanks to the Australian Ceramics Association for including me in this issue which has a focus on Education, Greg Piper’s evocative portrait shots from Clay Push Gulgong 2013 and a showcase of Open Studios Ceramics Australia.

Enjoy reading!

Our new home…a studio with a house attached ;)

It all started with “Check this” in the email header Adam sent to me        31 January 2013 while I was still in Denmark.

An advertisement for a gorgeous house in our favourite Canberra suburb – Watson.  The first thing I saw was recently refurbished studio/workshop and as soon as I saw the photos I went “OMG! This is exactly what I want!” After I madly clicked the photos, I recognized the sellers (one was my current work boss and the other I used to work with), and emailed Adam to hotfoot it to the Open inspection. All I can say is, thank goodness for the Internet, Skype and patient sellers who waited till I got back to Australia and made our offer less than 20hrs of me getting off the big silver bird from Copenhagen! Jet-lag, heat-waves and blindness to the bright summer sun (after weeks of diffused light from the snow) is the perfect combination when making a rather large purchase!

We are now the proud owners of a very beautiful home in the leafy tree lined suburb of Watson.  Check it out – Wade Street, Watson.

I’m so excited as I now have a real studio to make ceramics, a garage to place a kiln which I’ll be kiln-sitting till Meredith wants it back (how kind is she to make such a generous offer).  Meredith wants to be a potter and of course, the world needs more makers/creators/artists! Anyway, there is a house attached and Adam so can’t wait to play in his man cave (oops! garage). He has already decided how he’ll deck it out, so be warned when you come to visit!

So, that’s our little bit of news for 2013.  As soon as we’ve moved in, I’ll let you know and of course, please come and visit us and watch us renovate over the up-and-coming months. Who needs reality TV renovation shows when you can see it in the flesh! Although I have to admit I did become a bit addicted to Channel Nine’s The Block when I got home from Denmark.  Josh/Jenna and Phil/Amity have already provided some great design ideas.  Bring on retro Danish design and a very worried husband 😉

Oh, and if you know of anyone that needs to buy a gorgeous 2 bedroom townhouse in Jerrabomberra please tell them to visit our home we are selling. It was my bachelorette pad when I bought it in 2001 and while we have both enjoyed living here for the past 18 months we are keen to move closer into the city and walk/bus/bicycle ride our way @ the inner suburbs of the Inner North.

 

 

Copenhagen – Retro Danish furniture, Gløgg and Hygee

Well, I’ve decided Copenhagen has now hit my top 5 places I want to live in when Adam and I plan to go overseas for a few years.  I thought Florence and Berlin were pretty high up but now Copenhagen is showing its stylish flair even when its -4 and snowing during the day!

Seeing the sights of the city on my one and only blue skies day...
Seeing the sights of the city on my one and only blue skies day…
Copenhagen-Central-Train-Station
Copenhagen-Central-Train-Station
Tivoli amid metro construction affecting all of Copenhagen city
Tivoli amid metro construction affecting all of Copenhagen city

I’m staying at Hotel Alexandra – a beautiful retro Danish hotel which focuses on Danish furniture designers, the environment and making guests feel like they are at home.  No chain hotels need apply when it comes to moi traveling.  I’ve become friends with April who is Acting Front Desk and she has been with the hotel for 5 years.  This says something about her and her employees.  She absolutely loves her job and she’s the sort of person you’d love to employ any day. April has helped me every step of the way, let me have a peek at the more sleeker (and expensive rooms), booked my restaurant, asked me about my day and has been so so nice that I feel like I’ve known her for ages.  Adam and I are definitely coming back to Copenhagen and staying here for a week.  Three days is not long enough as I feel I’m trying to squeeze in as much as I can.

So, what did I do?  Well, I think I’ve shopped, eaten, drunk and walked myself silly but geez what a city.  Its clearly design/architect focused and everyone knows how to dress for winter – stylish and of course practically. So here’s a brief rundown of 72 hours in Copenhagen:

Zoo Design – a mecca for artists in the visual arts to showcase ceramics, jewellery, textiles and glass.  I could have stayed here all day.  Two hours later I managed to buy 2 gifts and 1 little one for Adam and I.

Designer-Zoo-inside
Designer-Zoo-inside
A-jeweller-in-her-studio-at-Designer-Zoo
A-jeweller-in-her-studio-at-Designer-Zoo

Rosenborg – to be honest I really didn’t know what to expect and when I started to go through the Castle and read about the tapestries in the Great Hall….suddenly I sped up on Denmark’s history and its wars.  I had no idea Denmark actually owned a lot of land through Sweden, Norway and Germany and had to fight long battles, losing many soldiers, and still not regain some of its territory.  Well, one of the Kings (Christian # I can’t remember) commissioned tapestries to be made and they certainly told a very different story regarding ‘conquests’ compared to what actually happened.  So, its interesting to see how churches and royalty are similar in representing their visual version of supposed events.

Rosenberg-Castle
Rosenberg-Castle
Rosenberg-Castle-buildings
Rosenberg-Castle-buildings
Rosenberg-Castle-Guard
Rosenberg-Castle-Guard

Hviids Vinstue – I read this 300 year old tavern served Gløgg – a spicy mulled wine – and I was keen to try it out.

Gløgg served in a little glass with a spoon...
Gløgg served in a little glass with a spoon…

Well, I arrived and what appeared at first to be a Gentleman’s club became a bit more relaxed as couples, families and single people were merrily drinking away and everyone spoke Danish.  No tourists in sight…well except for moi!  As it was, a smartly dressed older waiter asked me what I’d like and I mentioned the mulled wine and he merrily disappeared and came back, plonked it on my table and disappeared again.  I sat there and eventually asked the ladies behind me how it worked in terms of paying.  They said just pay when you leave. Of course..silly me!

So, as I watched people come and go eventually I needed to go to the ladies but didn’t want to leave my gear behind.  I asked a couple would they mind watching.  No dramas.  I came back and we chatted for 1/2hr. It turns out she was an owner of an advertising agency  and we swapped notes on how clients always wanted the impossible the day before! I asked her husband about whether there was a Danish team I could get a jersey for my husband as I had no idea.  Yes, we play soccer not football.  But he loves our Aussie Rules and I joked with his wife that the men were much better looking than the stocky, ordinary looking rugby players.  We talked about the cricket, New Zealand, if Hobart was another country…I nearly fell over and explained no its part of Australia, ceramics, which galleries to go to while I was here and it was great to have a chat and not feel so obviously alone at my table drinking my 2nd drink – Danish beer.

When plans change…

For my last day I had roughly worked out what to do.  By the time I skyped the family it was well after 11am when I hit the streets.  I was going to visit the Christiansborg Palace first but realised I had to wait till 1.30pm to access some of the areas.  So, instead I decided to go to Bredgade Street where all the galleries are…well yes, the ones that showcase 1 painting by 1 artist in a massive room (I’m sorry but that is not normal), the very expensive antique shops and old women wearing fox/animal fur coats and tonnes of makeup.  I was beginning to wonder what I was doing…luckily the Marmorkirken (Marble Church) came into view and I was able to check out its cupola.  Sadly, I couldn’t get a bird’s eye view of the city as the tower was only open Sat, Sun and public holidays.

Cupola-at-Marmorkirken-Marble-Church
Cupola-at-Marmorkirken-Marble-Church
Marmorkirken-Marble-Church
Marmorkirken-Marble-Church

As I headed into the streets I realised I had dropped my faithful map at some point and then chose to go down some street and hopefully head back in the right direction.  I came across a familiar sign – Keramik! Yeah, I popped in and met 3 lovely ceramic artists sharing a very small space in the basement.  We chatted about the Center, my work, their work and when they asked my plans…they tsked tsked the Palace and said no, go to Davids Samling – a museum containing the best collection of porcelain, Islamic art and contemporary Danish works – plus its free! They also gave me the name of local artists/galleries to visit along the way.  So, I’m glad I took their advice as the Samling Museum was amazing.  It was also warm, with carpet, beautiful rooms,  incredible artwork and it made Rosenberg Castle look very ho hum! In fact, the feeling was Hygee, which roughly translates into cosy. Winter in Denmark can be cold, grey and long so most places put a lot of emphasis on their homes, their work place and where they eat – blankets, candles, cushions – anything to give you a warm, cosy feeling.

One-of-many-opulent-rooms-at-David-Samling
One-of-many-opulent-rooms-at-David-Samling
Porcelain-collection-at-David-Samling
Porcelain-collection-at-David-Samling
Sliding-door-into-the-next-room-at-David-Samling...Oh! I so want one!
Sliding-door-into-the-next-room-at-David-Samling…Oh! I so want one!

I then had to rush into town for last minute gifts before heading back to the hotel and changing for dinner.  Well, what a interesting night…after a free bus ride and entertaining the bus driver, I found myself in the dodgy end of town and panicked as the streets were dark and I was totally lost.  Reading a map in the dark isn’t fun and silly me forgot my torch in my pocket…I just got very flustered.  I finally found the place and then they sat me in the foyer entrance overlooking the kitchen.  I explained a booking was made in the restaurant and was this a temporary arrangement?  No, this is where we sit single people.  Mmmm….overlooking the dirty kitchen sink.  No, I don’t think so!  So, I summed up the courage to explain I had booked a table and according to Wallpaper City Guide the photo did not show the kitchen as a main feature.  As their English and my Danish was limited it was clear that they were not going to move me. So, I gathered my coat, gloves and hat and said I was very disappointed as I had come a long way to experience the Nordic cooking.  I left, and then had to make my way back to the bus stop in the dark and my last meal wasn’t looking crash hot.  So, back to the hotel and a Vietnamese beef and noodle dish with red wine gave me the boost I needed.

Heading home

At last, 7 weeks later I’m heading home on the big silver bird tomorrow morning.  I’m excited as this is my last night in Copenhagen.  Three days in a major city is not long enough.  I highly recommend at least 5-7 days to fully explore a city and to always be open to changing even the best of laid out plans.  Sometimes, you get to see another side of the city that is not always recommended in travel books/brochures etc.  I also recommend that you go parallel to the ‘tourist’ streets – I’m not saying don’t do them, but the next day try a street or 2 either side as you’ll be suprised as to what you will find.

Thank you for reading my virtual travel experience as an artist-in-residence and as a tourist abroad.  I’ve had a wonderful time and am already planning future trips. American historian Miriam Rita Beard sums up best what travel means to me:

Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.

Self portrait on test tile
Self portrait on test tile

Photo gallery – Roskilde and Skælskør, Denmark

Loving-the-walk-castle-crisp-air-and-all-Denmark-has-to-offer
Loving-the-walk-castle-crisp-air-and-all-Denmark-has-to-offer

A photo gallery to end my time in Zealand where the medieval towns of Skælskør and Roskilde reside. From a stunning Cathedral, glass studio and Viking Museum in Roskilde, to walking @ the Skælskør Nor and then ending with the glorious and romantic 17th Century Borreby Castle (well almost ending…Marie and I went to Kobæk Strand (beach) on Monday and I couldn’t resist showing snow at the beach!) – its all been an amazing travel and photographic experience.  Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A firing disaster, a few tears and lessons learned

Well, reality has certainly bitten this little petal.  After an agonizing time carefully loading my eight tiles into the bisque kiln on Saturday I finally opened the door on Monday morning to uncover a firing disaster.  I knew one of the tiles had broken, as Christina checked late Sunday night, so I braced myself as to which one I had lost.  It wasn’t until when removing the tiles one by one I realized something had gone terribly wrong.  Tile after tile – major cracks – and when I got to the shelf that’s when I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  The kiln shelf had split fair into two pieces.  Out of the eight tiles I made, only two survived and one partially – as Adam kindly pointed out “it was only a 75% failure rate”.  I laid them all out on the bench, photographed them and headed straight back to my room.  I felt so deflated and could have kicked myself – where did I do wrong?

I had read up on the Internet – reliable ceramic sites to work out how to bisque large tiles.  I found some great sites/detailed information but they all related to small bathroom tiles and nothing my size or depth.  I chatted to another artist in residence who was confident I could lay the tiles on top of each other.  I had plans to lay one on each shelf – but we didn’t have enough shelves for that option. So, I had the yellow clay tiles on 2 separate shelves and the white clay tiles stacked carefully on each other.

I didn’t know one kiln shelf had a hairline fracture and the weight of the tiles combined with the fracture may have been the cause for the break.  Our Technician Rachel hadn’t seen anything like it before and was surprised at the outcome.  We talked about what the cause was but couldn’t give a definitive answer.  She suggested next time I stack them side by side with bricks – like toast in one of those old-fashioned toast stands.

Silver-PLATED-TOAST-RACK-6-slice
Silver-PLATED-TOAST-RACK-6-slice

Someone else suggested clay coils around each of the tiles to slow down the heat so it’s not fast on the outside and a shock to the center.  So lots of ideas and if any ceramicist out there can give me tips I’d so much welcome them as I’m keen to continue making these tiles when I come home.

The good news is someone upstairs must have been looking after me as the two tiles, which survived, were in fact the most important – the main feature tiles for the old/serene body of work.  At least I can work with something and the other good news, which Adam also pointed out “you’ll save on shipping costs now!” He of course totally understood, felt bad about my firing and let me have a good sob over Skype.

So, today I woke up with a massive hangover after drinking a tad too much – probably because I knew I needed to commiserate, held my last dinner duty with the gorgeous Evelyn from Estonia, given a presentation to Project Network 2013 members on tips to improve grant applications and only had one more kiln firing to go.  Anyway,  onwards and upwards and I have to say one of the girls here made me realize  you have to embrace ceramics with all its uncontrollable elements and be prepared for breakages, kiln and/or glaze disasters.  Only the day before, another artist accidentally knocked over one of Claire’s exhibition pieces. He was mortified and she was calm as she quickly threw the piece in the bin.  She made the whole incident painless and is truly a model of graciousness and practicality.

Anyway, I spent today glazing my two tiles and I’m happy with the results.  The work, along with the pendants will be ready to put in the kiln on Wednesday and should be out some time Friday.

Post note: the works came out today….and sadly, another firing disaster.  It just seems I been given the ultimate test ‘to harden up princess’ as Adam says. Well, I opened the door to see one big gooey hard mess in front of me.

 

Glaze-firing-an-expensive-exercise
Glaze-firing-an-expensive-exercise

We had to wait till the kiln cooled down and Rachel helped me pull the shelves out. Two were joined together and when we pulled them all out we assessed the damage – to the shelves and the element.  Whatever work came out went straight to my desk with no interest.  I was worried about the damage.  We got a hammer and chisel and she showed me what I’d have to do to get rid of the glaze.  The glaze is hard as rock and when you break it, its like glass.  So, we worked carefully but struggled to avoid the actual shelf from being ruined.  So, she left me and 2hrs later I tried my best to rescue the shelves. Two of the shelves are not savable and with a damaged wire I’m going to be up for some big $$’s.  My budget for the firings has been totally blown out.  I also lost 1/2 my pendants which had been made as gifts for people here.  So, unfortunately that special project is out the window.  As for my 2 tiles, they somehow managed to be okay.  I did take a photo to put in this posting but it could have helped if I put the memory card in!  Its now too late as I’ve bubble wrapped my works in preparation for leaving. So lesson learned…don’t put a low fire clay in a high fire clay firing.  I didn’t realise I had made this mistake and now I know what happens and trust me I won’t be making this expensive mistake again…

So, this is probably my last posting related to my time here as an artist-in-residence. I’m pleased I took myself out of my comfort zone and explore new clays, glazes and forms.  This is the complete opposite to what I did at University and I’m so glad I didn’t create the same work and play it safe.  I’m looking forward to coming home as I miss Adam, Miami and of course family, friends and work colleagues.  I will also miss my new friends made here at Guldagergaard.  Its been an amazing experience and one I highly recommend any ceramic artist to consider as part of their career…just start saving now and be open to all that ceramics throws at you!

 

Anne-celebrating-at-the-exhibition
Anne-celebrating-at-the-exhibition

A pretty chair drawing

When I first arrived at the Ceramic Center and spied this chair in my room…all I could think was…how do I smuggle it home!

Pretty-chair-in-my-danish-bedroom
Pretty-chair-in-my-danish-bedroom

It’s a cute sitting chair and I imagine long ago dainty women would sit in a room and sew beautiful handkerchiefs by hand. As for moi…she can’t sew, knit or anything that involves the delicate textiles art form.  But drawing and capturing my favourite chair…well I’d be remiss not to do this before I leave.

So here are three photos.  The original chair, my pencil drawing and then the final drawing.  I use pro-marker pens and couldn’t help but purchase a box of 12 new pretty colours.  It only cost 149 DKK (@$25 AUD). Back home the same set costs $119 which makes me wonder why some businesses charge so much! I don’t mind paying but geez explain the inflation…Anyway, I hope you enjoy this little drawing and a change from photos and writing.

 

 

 

Pretty-chair-in-colour
Pretty-chair-in-colour
Pretty-chair-in-pencil
Pretty-chair-in-pencil

Ørslev Church and a bus trip to remember

Anna Kukielka and I are traveling buddies and this time we went on a local bus trip to Ørslev Church located @ 20 minutes out of Skælskør.  It has murals that date back to 1300 and was probably the loveliest church I’ve seen in Europe (and I’ve seen a few…).  Anna took professional photos as inspiration for her current work as 1 of 12 project network members here at Guldagergaard. It was a nice escape from the studio and a chance to enjoy sun and blue skies.  We have all been busy making. It was nice to take some time out of the studios and check out the local landscape and experience an amusing bumpy bus ride with our lady bus driver.

Anna and I also caught up with one of Denmark’s well known ceramicists – Nina Hole.  We had tea/lint pastries (special pastries eaten during lent) and saw her amazing studio.  Nina and Larry designed twin studios under ground to maximize insulation but also obtain amazing views from a lower perspective. Their home is very old – @ 300 years and they managed to preserve part of the building with minor changes.  But anyone over 6ft would not cope with the low ceilings.

So, here is a gallery of photos from a day to remember. Thanks Anna for your skillful organising of bus routes, catching up with Nina and of course your company.

My work

Friday 17 February

It’s been 2 weeks now and I feel ready to show the progress of my work.  This project commenced February 2012 in terms of an idea but I had no actual idea as to where it would lead me.

While working on another body of work I uncovered a series of drawings by American architect Marion Mahony Griffin prepared for hers and American architect Walter Burley Griffin winning entry in the Australian Federal Capital Design Competition in 1912.   What occurred to me about one of these renderings was how white the buildings were envisaged in this new city (Canberra) and how the landscape seemed to hover ever so gently in, and around, the delicate lined streets of suburbia. Neither Walter or Marion had been to Australia, “…In 1912, idealized images of the native landscape-known colloquially as the bush-and its requisite eucalyptus and gum trees were gaining iconic status as symbols of national identity…” Debora Wood, Marion Mahony Griffin: Drawing the Form of Nature (Illinois: Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art Northwestern University Press, 2005), 11.

4185438_0001 copy 2View from the Summit of Mount Ainslie, 1911. Credit: National Archives of Australia

Australia is often associated with sun, white beaches, rain forests and desert.  Canberra is like a garden city – surrounded by bush and our winters are cold, windy and with the occasional snow dumps.  We have soft blue skies and when the light hits the silver birches and gum trees it highlights how serene Canberra is.

Ghost-gum-near-NMA
Ghost-gum-near-NMA

However, as the past three weeks has shown, Canberra and the rest of Australia have been experiencing perhaps one of the worst heat waves in history. Scorching temperatures, sweating firefighters and city/country people bracing themselves day in day out as rising temperatures refuse to budge. But more on that later and back to Marion’s rendering.

I tucked this rendering away for a while as a possible future project.  A few months later I had the opportunity to apply for an artist in residence at Guldagergaard, the drawing re-surfaced and unbeknown to me Marion became my shadow.  She followed me everywhere as I read about her, watched a documentary, visited the National Archives of Australia to view the original works with conservator Ian Batterham, and discuss the finer points of the material, the water colours, and Marion’s relationship with her husband.  I figured there must be some way I can include her in my original proposal – celebrating Canberra’s centenary in 2013 and creating a body of work that places my association with growing up in a city surrounded by bush.

Without going into the finer points of researching and initial testing ideas – this was a 7-10 month process – I’ll try to narrow down elements which are crucial to the final outcome of potential exhibition work.

 

Surface decorations

Sanam Emami
Sanam Emami

Sanam Emami is a creator of markings through surface decorations; stamping and application of silkscreen transfers on her vases/teapots. I particularly like her markings beneath the transfer and how the two techniques blend seamlessly and provide the viewer with an additional experience to the decorative.

I experimented with a range of objects (old and new) and narrowed it down to a old Canberra tourist spoon, a new vinyl placemat from the National Museum of Australia shop (acknowledging local indigenous people who can trace their occupancy of this space, for many thousands of years), an Australian window shade blind with a simple weave (Marion used ‘window shade holland’ as her surface to create her renderings), and a cake tool (acknowledging my part time retail job to support my practice).

Screen-printing and decals

Closeup-of-my-drawings-for-possible-layout
Closeup-of-my-drawings-for-possible-layout

Marion used a range of techniques in three mediums – textiles, paper and painting.  I did not necessarily want to use the same techniques but acknowledge that any work I created would be made mostly by hand – as she did.  The only processes which required modern equipment was the digital machinery to produce the decals and (I think) the light process to expose images of Marion and the ghost gum tree on to the silk screens.

Ghost-gum-Cerama-White-Royal-Copehagen-porcelain-Yellow-clay-Black-clay
Ghost-gum-Cerama-White-Royal-Copehagen-porcelain-Yellow-clay-Black-clay

How I came to choosing black silhouettes of Marion was based on a little known fact “…at the end of her life, she altered the credit lines on a number of drawings in her possession to read ‘Marion Mahony Griffin, designing architect’…”. In the documentary City of Dreams one of the social historians explains, she also blacked out the credit lines but this was done with sensitivity as her and Walter had an incredible artistic collaboration. I thought this was very telling of that period and how complex her relationship must have been personally and professionally. Hence, my need to tell her story and parallel it with mine.

What I really enjoyed about the preparation for screen-printing was hand drawing each of the images and trying to work out how to create positive/negative areas, which would enhance the portraiture/landscape.  I was fortunate one of the teachers (Denise Ferris) at the Canberra School of Art (my other part-time job) liked the way Marion was captured – in time, the period, her Mary Jane shoes, long dress and reflective stance.  She suggested I look up Kara Walker, an artist who creates cut black paper portraits and adheres them to paper, canvas and walls. Her silhouettes are delightful, thought provoking and some with a modern twist.

Walker_Whitehot @ Hammer Museum
Walker_Whitehot @ Hammer Museum

I had this idea I would have Marion looking forward with her vision of this new city and me reflecting on being the person she envisaged living the life. So, my friend Trish photographed me sitting on a contemporary chair, in a short-medium length dress, high heels and looking very relaxed.  See, Marion was always on my mind and I was constantly wondering what would she think…

Marking Place

Just before I left Australia, I had the chance to attend a talk by Curator Peter Haynes on a group exhibition by three prominent Canberra artists – G.W. Bot, Anita McIntyre, Wendy Teakel.  Marking Place provided me with the confidence I needed to be able to pull my many ideas together and focus on cohesion, subject matter, and simplicity.  In particular, Ceramicist Anita McIntyre’s fish memories (2012) resonated with my goal to keep the form clean and relevant to the subject matter so the decorative narrative could surface.  G.W. Bot’s Paddock, glyphs and moon, 2011 also provide a pivotal turning point in my work last week and as I looked at her ‘limited palette – black, red and ochre‘ I could see another layout crystallizing before me.

As previously mentioned, Australia has been experiencing heat waves and bushfires in and around cities and rural towns.  I looked at my Danish clay – yellow brick and realized how this symbolized the dry heat – haze and smoke the firefighters experience; then my red screen print of me – initially a bold statement about my own independence as a woman – but how this could mean fire. The sky was pitch red I recall driving home in 2003 not knowing it would be a catastrophic event for Canberra; the black is in reference to burnt trees that dot the country at any given time.  I think I now have two possible works – one serene (old) and one in the present day (new).  Thanks Marion.

Detail_can't-reveal-everything
Detail_can’t-reveal-everything

Thanks also must be mentioned to Joanne Searle for our speed dating session on screen-printing in my garage and Sasha Kukoc for her patience in creating the silk screens.

© Anne Masters Ceramics

Skælskør – photos for a change…

13 January 2013

Anne-ready-for-her-walk
Anne-ready-for-her-walk

I thought a change from words would be good and I’d take you on a virtual 2hr walk through the town of Skælskør. Imagine it snowing lightly, crunching beneath your feet, seeing Christmas wreaths on graves at a cemetery (with the best views of the water), avoiding dog poop on the pavement and bitterly cold finger tips from taking way too many photos!  Enjoy! Hint: if you click on the photo, it will take you to another page, then click on that photo to get the full size 6 x 4 photo.  I’m still figuring out a better way to display photos but limited by software…

 

 

 

My new home, amazing studio space, cool friends and dinners to die for

Friday 11 January 2013

Well it’s the end of my first week (of 6 weeks) at Guldagergaard, International Ceramic Research Center located in Skælskør.  Don’t even ask how to pronounce the names as we have all attempted and only the Danes say it the best!

This is my studio space overlooking part of the Sculpture Park, which surrounds the center and suburbia houses surround the park. I was lucky to meet Priscilla, one of the founding members on Monday and say how we have nothing like this back at home.  I have since found out that this Center is very unique and how lucky we are to have such a beautiful house to live in and high quality studios to work in.

I arrived @6pm Wednesday night (3 January) and was entertained by a local madmen in the dark as he sang and said weird stuff.  Then suddenly these loud bangs went off and I’m like terrified he’s got a shotgun.  I remained calm and thankfully Rachel turns up on her cute bicycle all dressed up in her winter woollies.  As we went up the streets the ‘bangs’ turned out to be firecrackers!  What a dill!  I was shown my room (#5) and told to come down for dinner when I was ready.  I put my gear down as keen to meet the others.  I met Paige, Lee and Ryan – all from the USA – and we got on well.  I really liked Paige and thought she seems so cool and my instinct was right – she’s funny, cool and down to earth.  The others started to arrive and slowly I try to remember names.  It is a great night and I feel like I’ve settled in well.  We are told to have the next day to ourselves and Rachel and I meet @ 11am as she takes me on a separate orientation tour of the house, the library, washing facilities, the clay room (the biggest I’ve ever seen), the Apple Orchard Gallery and then finally the beast of them all – the massive stables which have now been converted into studios.

There is a plaster room, a kiln room in between 2 large studio spaces, a proper glaze room – all the materials (and it takes me back to Australian National University School of Art’s ceramic workshop – which I miss) and a back room with ware boards & stuff. There is an upstairs area but that is still undergoing renovations.

I go grocery shopping with a few of the artists and I’m so glad I bought my Danish phrase book as it helps me (and the others) to figure out what we are buying.  Everything looks expensive as I can’t remember the conversion and I limit my purchases. As it turns out a weeks worth of lunch and breakfast is ½ the price it cost me for a Starbucks coffee/small sandwich/takeaway lidded thermos at the Copenhagen Airport!

From Friday through to today I work at the studios as conscious about how many firings I need to do in such a short time. Six weeks isn’t long enough and I wish I had 8 weeks.  I am working with 2 low fired clays – Yellow brick and Black – as this is new and totally the opposite to porcelain.  I’ve also chosen 3 high-fired clays – Cerama White 444, Royal Copenhagen and Limoges (the latter 2 are crème de la crème and also expensive – but Adam is paying for it as he says I may never work with them again).

So far, I’ve been happy with my test tiles, screen printing and stamping.  I’ve worked out one possible exhibition layout and have another one in mind.  But again, time is of the essence so I must keep it simple.

Finally, the group dinners need to be seen to believe just how amazing they are.  Everyone is rostered on once a week and pair up to cook anywhere from 14 to 19 residents. Rachel and Egla raised the bar with their welcoming meal and everyone has been leaping to match the good food.  I hardly eat anything during the day so I can save up for dinner and we usually all have seconds!

I’ve managed to do some shopping and contribute thoughtfully to the economy of Skælskør (any excuse to explain how much I’ve spent so far ;).  But seriously, I do feel its great to be able to come to a small town who can’t rely on tourism solely and still be able to provide small businesses along the quaint cobbled stone main street Algade.  I’ve purchased rain boots, raincoat, jumper, ceramic brooch and a few other little trinkets and feel glad that I’ve been able to support locally.  The best thing is there are no shopping malls in sight!  Gotta love that!

Well I’ll sign off as I did have some extra photos to put in this story but it could have helped if I had put the memory card in the camera!  I totally forgot, as I was eager beaver to download photos.  Ah well! shall try again tomorrow and hope for the same beautiful sunset I saw at 4pm this afternoon. The next posting will be about my ceramic work and its progress.