Friday, July 20, 2012

Stephanie James-Manttan: Indent

Stephanie James-Manttan's current exhibition Indent is showing in CollectorSpace at JamFactory until 25 August.  She answered a few questions for us about this exhibition and her work in general.

Tell us about yourself, how did you become an artist?

I’m a bit of a late starter.  Before becoming an artist, I was a business analyst working in England and Sydney.  I’ve always loved art since good ole school days and also I was one of those people who like to draw and paint and do weekend drawing and sculpture courses. 

After moving back to Sydney in late 1999 with my husband and my beautiful 1 year old son, we settled into life, but September 11 came a long, my husband lost his job because and the business he was working for lost funding from one of their major venture capitalist from the US.  In short, we moved to Adelaide in 2002 where my husband fully supported me in following my passion for art, so I signed up for a visual arts degree at then Adelaide Centre for the Arts TAFE SA.  After completing my degree, I then took up the 2 year associate program at the JamFactory and have been there ever since.

Which craftspeople, writers, artists, musicians, anyone do you find particularly inspiring and how have they influenced your approach to making?

One of the major influences in my current arts practice is indigenous basket weaving.  I went to Alice Springs in 2008 to do a 2 week indigenous workshop from the women from Ernabella, I made the ceramics forms and the women decorated them.  While I was there I got to watch the women basket weave.  I was transfixed with how they grew from nothing and the repetition of the weave was comforting and mesmerizing.  When I got back to my studio, I sat at my pottery wheel with a lump of clay on it and just as the indigenous women of Ernabella would with a strip of fibre, I started to weave but with clay.  Well that’s the way I see.  I wheel throw the forms then I work around it with wooden tools as you would weaving.  I also love the soft organic nature of weaving and that was very important to me that this is reflected in my work.  Even though my work is evolving, it still incorporates this influence.

Are there any specific quotes, ideas, places that influence this current body of work?

I’m really liking the saying from a wise Vietnamese Buddhist monke … these a two of my favourites.

“Smile, breathe and go slowly.”
Thich Nhat Hanh

“Our own life has to be our message.”
Thich Nhat Hanh, The World We Have: A Buddhist Approach to Peace and Ecology

Are there any specific collections, museums that you have found inspiring and why?

The Museum of South Australia has a wonderful and beautiful large collection of indigenous basket weaving.   

Welcome us to your studio - where is it?

My studio is tucked away in the JamFactory’s main ceramics Studio.  I’m positioned between two wonderful ladies Helen Fuller and Maria Chatzinikolaki.  We talk, laugh and cry about life in general but we also support another’s work.  I miss them when they’re not about, but I do have all the other amazing associate in the studio to keep me preoccupied. 

The work for the exhibition: Can you describe the specific themes reflected in this body of work?

This body of work is all about extremes, what I can do to the objects before they no longer become functional.  Aesthetics play a larger part in my exhibition work than functionality.  I push, pull, squeeze and puncture the clay and push them to the utmost extremes.  Some rims quiver on the verge of equilibrium.  I love the fact that even thought I use the same process of some forms, they all look different … they have their own personality.  I’m also marking on the inside so you can see on the outside the smooth ripple effects that you would only normally see on the inside … if that all makes sense.

Describe your method of production in this current work?

All my forms are thrown on a pottery wheel and whilst they are still wet, I alter them.  I have to leave them until the clay is at a certain state before I touch them.  If I don’t do this the marks are not as clean and I don’t want the forms too dry then you don’t get that organic flow to them.  I use other materials to help support them during this process … but I won’t tell you what I use because it’s my little secret ;)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Maria Chatzinikolaki: Bellum

Maria Chatzinikolaki

Mugs by Maria Chatzinikolaki and Klaus Gutowski (available from The JamFactory Shop)

Maria Chatzinikolaki completed the JamFactory Associate Program last year, and is now a tenant in the Ceramic Studio. Her work is highly regarded and she was recently shortlisted for the SALA JamFactory Award. 
If you follow JamFactory on Facebook you may have seen a series of mugs (pictured above) which attracted the biggest response we've EVER had on a Facebook post!
Maria handpainted these mugs in a collaborative project with JamFactory tenant Klaus Gutowski. 
Her latest exhibition, Bellum, is showing at The JamFactory until 25 August. She talks about herself, her work, and more specifically Bellum.

Tell us about yourself, how did you become an artist?
Although I grew up in an artistic environment, becoming an artist for me was a pleasant accident. I found myself from working in retail for a shop that sold ceramics to working in their studio replacing one of their production ceramicists. Two years later I was decorating their main dinnerware range.
My dad was in the advertising business and my mom was a piano teacher and I always did crafty things as a kid with her and as an adult on my own trying to find a way to express myself. I now see that every single thing I have done has helped me choose my medium and shape my work to where it is now.

Which craftspeople, writers, artists, musicians, anyone do you find particularly inspiring and how have they influenced your approach to making?
Being influenced by pretty much everything, from paintings to poems, there are too many to mention here. Therefore I will talk about the ones who have influenced me directly by teaching or mentoring me.
Bruce Nuske showed me how to respect the medium I am working with and he taught me how clay is responding to my everyday attitude like a mirror.
Robin Best showed me basic techniques I was lacking experience in and advised me to focus on detail.
Prue Venables saw a different path and perspective in my work, reminded me to not be so hard on myself and last but not least, how important it is to be patient.
The combination of their help was all I needed to get kick-started.

Are there any specific quotes, ideas, places that influence this current body of work?
There is a quote that I always keep fresh in my mind. It is so diverse and it has helped me move on in my work to what I am doing now, as well as keep faith in myself in whatever I do even when things don’t go the way I want them to.
“Everything is connected in life. The point is to know it and to understand it”.
This quote is a reassurance that things, good or bad, always happen for a reason. It shows that there is always a link that connects the old with the new, whether that is work, decisions or everyday actions. I wouldn’t have this new body of work if I hadn’t produced previous bodies of work and it certainly comforts when something fails.

Are there any specific collections, museums that you have found inspiring and why?
Every visual stimulus is influential but I find art with foundation to be more solid when it comes to inspiration, like classical art movements that can never go wrong. You can always see a sense of freedom in exploring, regardless to how conservative each movement might be. This visible evolvement is easier found in museums and this is the reason I find them as most inspirational. You have the full history of art right there unrolling in front of you and challenging you to find the connections. Responding to that is my main inspiration.

Welcome us to your studio-where is it?
I am lucky to have my studio based in the heart of contemporary art. I am based on the second floor of the JamFactory in Adelaide. I have been working from there for a while and that is where I first attained my skills, started my practice, given fantastic opportunities and limitless support. I consider myself as a “JamFactory child” because that is where I was shaped as an artist and I can’t think of a better place to be or for a reason good enough to cut the umbilical cord and move on.

The work for your exhibition: Can you describe the specific themes reflected in this body of work?
Although my inspiration for the visual part of my work is coming from underwater life, my concept has derived from something different and has very little to do with it. It may sound contradicting, but in my work concept and inspiration are two different things that compliment each other.
On one hand my work is exploring the powerful relationship between time, moments and nature where each dot or mark represents a second of my life. Each piece requires a significant amount of time and that is why I have such a strong connection with each one of my pieces, as the process of creating is in itself as important as the final outcome.
On the other hand I aim to highlight the unseen, the invisible, the miniature and the easily overlooked. Weird and unique but interesting formations on any kind of surface and material (from rocks and plants to shells or even garbage) caused by the passing of time, by living organisms and deterioration itself are vital inspirational starting points.
I am not only concentrating on materials, their use, the skills required and the techniques involved but I am also focusing on reinterpreting patterns inspired by underwater life. Each finished item is just an interpretation and a combination of both my visual inspiration and my concept.

Describe your method of production in this current work.
I use liquid porcelain to cast my pieces in order to express curves influenced by nature and then I slip trail the same liquid porcelain in order to highlight and create detail. I work on my objects as much as I can when they are still damp, raw and unfired, I then edit and add detail after they have had their first firing at 900C and then I finalize everything by firing them at 1280C in an oxidation firing.

Bellum is at The JamFactory from 29 June - 25 August showing alongside Transparency, Blue Pony, and Indent. Drop by and see these great exhibitions at The JamFactory.