Monday, 12 June 2017

Musing and Mummenschanz

Earlier this year, I weighed in on a Facebook thread trying to analyse and hypothesise over a call for entry to a ceramics exhibition. More than half of those in the discussion thought the terms of proposal sounded rather high-minded, ergo it naturally warranted an in-kind submission. On a lark, I began crafting my statement – with a little inspiration from – and many things came to mind. Foremost, it seems that a great many artist statements comprise many words and little substance. Perhaps that comes from a place of insecurity, of writer and/or reader. Or, perhaps it comes from my own insistence that my words, and my work, have substance.
Of course, I couldn’t craft a statement without an image – it was rather meditative to make patterns in soft clay spread out on a plaster drying table. And then it all came together as I was immediately reminded of Mummenschanz*, a Swiss theatre troupe that performs in silence. They appeared on The [original] Muppet Show with a performance of two characters communicating by means of molding and manipulating their face masks of clay. It was freaky and fantastic! It was also a lot of substance, without words.

Looking now at what I wrote, it was a good exercise, as it seems that the general intent of my practice is still there…it’s just buried amongst the words.

“Ode to Mummenschanz 2017 (in process, detail): porcelain with organic stain, thrown and altered, unfired
This work was inspired by recent studies into the consequence of the deconstruct of the ceramic medium as a metaphor for each of our own personal journeys across the vast expanse of life. Temporal derivatives become transformed through diligent and academic practice, leaving the viewer with an insight into the outposts of our culture. As a conduit for communication, the work resonates a most primal need of the human condition, to find the commonalities amongst us in bridging the inherent crevasse between the sublime and the ridiculous.”

(*Check them out! )

Wednesday, 19 April 2017


Perspective seems to invite a study unto itself: Where have I been...and where am I going? What have I done...and what will I do? It's all about viewpoints and vantage points - two similar yet separate concepts, a thing and a place. I often see the medieval Tuscan town of San Gimignano referred to as "the medieval Manhattan". Should it not be that Manhattan is "the modern San Gimignano"? I did not get the name of the artist of the figurative sculpture - or the sculpture itself - that rested atop one of San Gimignano's towers, but it has a great view...or do I have the better? Things that make you go "hmmmm"!

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Focus redux

There seems to be ever so much happening these days, as has happened all the days for all time, in the world far and near. With that in mind, and with the sudden onset of Spring, what better time to revive and renew focus...especially since I have completely and shamefully - though not quite wholeheartedly - neglected the blog for over a year since my last post...which was about focus. Ergo, I am posting this moodily edited photo of a simple bowl in the process of being turned (trimmed), as the style and subject reflect where I am in life, clay and otherwise: dreamily out of focus, yet hardly without purpose. Life is not ours for the taking, it is ours for the making.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Focus Focus Focus!

So much for focus. The saying goes that we cannot see the forest for the trees yet sometimes it really is more that we cannot see the trees for the forest. If we’re supposed to think outside the box, see the big picture, imagine the grand scheme, then we lose sight of the fine print, the intricate pixels, the unique details that make up the greater vision. The plan – the focus – yesterday was to make several chawan or tea bowls, using a porcelain that is known not only as easier to work with (to which I can attest) than my beloved English porcelain but also less expensive. Win win, right?!? Uh, nope. After several attempts, I had two which were deemed moderately passable. I am not a quitter, I am a lazy perfectionist. BIG difference… So, I hastily wedged a few of the slumped failures and made a biscuit jar, which would have been more than passable were it not full of micro air bubbles. It seems my focus was thrown off (pun or no pun – you decide!) by finally really getting into this biography of Michael Cardew.
It is not an easy read due to the excrutiating minutiae – lots and lots of tiny, tiny trees. I left off yesterday at the point in 1942 as Cardew is about to set off from England for Achimota, the Gold Coast, Africa. Of late, I have been thinking ‘tis time I start planning to set off for England, to see from whence my paternal grandparents came, and oh to see all the pots and potteries. Could my parents have known my name means “wanderer”? While I haven’t wandered much, my mind is always wandering, through the trees. Maybe I just need to look a little more closely…

Saturday, 30 January 2016

Zest Joy Gratitude

Long before those words became overly intertwined with the so-called [New Age] “journey of enlightenment”…and soap, they had other, truer meanings. I was reminded very well and very timely of that today, at a funeral no less. To live life with zest, joy, and gratitude is not always an easy commitment; at times, it can be a challenge far beyond our reach – physically, mentally, emotionally. Yet it is always within our grasp, even if ever so tiny. Let us make more time to find and create those moments that bring zest to life, surround ourselves with those people (and pets!) who give us joy, and share our gratitude by encouraging others to do the same. So reach out, grab a virtual mitten-full of goodies (suitable for all dietary needs), and go forth!

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Wandering through the Wonder...

Basking in the glorious sunshine today, Christmas-time is as much about reflection on the year that was than New Year's is about the year to be, as I am grateful for generous friends, good times, a cat named Chloe, inspiration, and opportunity. We need to take - no, make - more time to wander and wonder, at all that is calm and bright, whatever we believe, believing in the power of all that is good and light. "The soul needs more space than the body." (Dr. Axel Munthe) My Christmas wish is for all to pursue their happy purpose, to be their own light with peace and goodwill. and to all a good night!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Looking back and paddling on.

There are those who live by the motto, “Don’t look back, you’re not going that way.” In many respects, this is quite agreeable, yet not always, because it is all quite subjective. Ultimately, it is more about how we look back, and what we do with that view. If we do not look back, how can we move on, propelled by the memories - whether one or many - of good things past? This has been the most amazing year of my far! For that, I am truly grateful, so as I noted the anniversaries of the loss of both parents three years ago last month, I thought of the things I did not know, did not ask. But more importantly, I tried to honour the things I did know, to celebrate the things they shared, to thrive on all the good that has been since. To those who are having to cope with struggle or loss, particularly this time of year, my wish is one day, you will also be able to look back and paddle on with joy. Merry Christmas, everyone!