Monday, May 24, 2010

1st Year Ceramic Associate James Edwards talks to Jam Packed about the 2010 Clay Energy Conference

This is the eighth in these series of clay events held in Gulgong home to Australian Preeminent ceramist Janet Mansfield. Is this your first trip to Gulgong? If so what were you expecting? 
Yes this was my first Gulgong outing, the 2010 Clay Energy Conference. I just missed the last one in 2007, so I had plenty of expectations, but also knew from talking to others who had been in 2007 what the conference was about. There were plenty of 'artstars' of the Australian and international Ceramics world, and the whole event is really an excuse for every one of all levels to mingle, network and have some fun. That was pretty much exactly what happened. 

What were some of the highlights of the conference – particular key notes etc. and why? 
Highlights of the conference were more outside of the lectures for me. I sat with our Clay Adelaide exhibition most of the conference, and what I'm considering highlights from this are the moments and conversations with artists from all levels talking about our work, and theirs. I had some great informal chats with some influential people in regards to my practice, which was awesome! 

The one artist talk I got to that I did enjoy a lot was Ken Yonetani talking about his work. His work is so highly textural, evocative of the ocean floor in his formations of coral, shells, and mussels made from clay, and then his more abstract pieces, that I couldn't help the immediate attraction to the works. 

Which exhibitions did you like and why?  
There were so many exhibitions, from purpose built gallery spaces to vacant shops full of work, to a neatly placed display in the main streets shop windows. So much work was attractive; to pick a favourite would be impossible...especially when our Clay Adelaide exhibition was totally the best!!!

Interesting exhibitions though, included the Matchbox Competition, where all and sundry could enter a ceramic based work, as long as it could fit inside a matchbox. On the Saturday night of the conference, all the matchbooks (about 400?) were lined up on a pool table in the Prince of Wales Hotel, and it was really interesting to see how innovative and creative entrants had been. 

Another was the '340 grams' - The Australian Ceramic Association Members Exhibition, where members could exhibit anything as long as it weighed 340 grams in total. 
I feel these exhibitions were so attractive to me because of the scope of creativity they offered, and a few inspiring ideas came from some of the exhibits! 

Did you get involved in the wood firings, if so can you tell us about it?
I didn't get involved in a wood firing as there weren't any being run. We did do a massive Raku workshop though as Raku is a much faster firing process than wood, and that meant the conference was actually long enough to go from start to finish in the whole process of making, drying and firing, while still allowing people to take their finished pieces away. 

We did however fire a few wood ovens, a tri-pot Tandoori wood oven, and various other wood-heating ovens that created some decadent food on the last day at Janet Mansfield's property. 

Adelaide Ceramist had a show as part of Clay Energy Can you tell us who was part for this exhibition and where it was held? 
Our Clay Adelaide exhibition was held in the front upstairs room in a beautiful Victorian style shop fronted house, now officially to be the Headquarters and home of Mansfield Press, at the end of the main streets shopping section. The show opened in conjunction with 4 others in the same building, including National Art School, Woodfire Show, 10 artists from South Australia, Ceramic Study Group, NZceramics, and Royston Harpur - Paintings. 

Our exhibition was to present the work of 10 ceramic artists from Adelaide and its surrounds, which included one plinth each dedicated to Jane Burbidge, Maria Chatzinikolaki, Susan Frost, Suzanne Gregor, Tamara Hahn, Charmain Hearder, Stephanie James-Mantton, Wayne McAra, Jane Robertson and myself. 

The exhibition was a great success, I had a lot of great feedback and critique, and we sold a few pieces and all of the 90 handmade beakers we each chipped in towards being our opening's wine vessels. 

Could you describe your work form the show – the ideas behind the work you produced and your process of making? 
Everyone wants to enjoy an environment that is their ideal space. Everyone desires to live amongst ‘stuff’ which brings good memories and makes a good ambience.

By drawing together items and objects that have a memory of past lives, stories unfold and personal memories find their way interweaving with a new element, to cannibalise the original item into something new.
With a fresh face, the objects make their way back into the world to continue their existence, creating and enhancing new memories as they go.

So my work, Parchments, is a desk lamp from a series I'm currently undertaking, involving the cannibalisation of found or op-shopped lamp stands and shades, where I have to create either the shade or stand to match the existing half. 

Parchments was created by walking past a house in my street and intercepting an elderly lady putting out a shade-less Victorian hot-cast bronze table lamp. So after a lot of deliberation and experiments, I ended up with a cylindrical translucent porcelain shade, with stencilled Fleur de Lyss on the upper face.