Monday, 25 October 2010

Days of Miracle and Wonder

So much time has passed since my last blog entry and so much has happened since then that I really need to think about where to begin!
The selection process in the Western Cape
Firstly I was privileged to be asked to be the traveling selector for the Ceramics Southern Africa's National Exhibition which was held in the magnificent setting of the Grande Provence in Franschoek.
The magnificent surroundings at Grande Provence
Some incredible work was submitted for selections in all regions and the process went well and resulted in what could only be called an exceptional exhibition.

An general view of the CSA National Exhibition

Part of my entry on the National Exhibition
On my return from the selections I was greeted with news of a parcel in the post. I have been working with soluble salts on bone china for some time now and ever since I first heard of it I have been trying to get hold of a copy of the book 'Water Colour on Porcelain' by Arne Ase, which has been out of print for a number of years, but miraculously thanks to Facebook and a friend to whom I will be forever indebted I have finally got a copy of the book. It is overwhelming and inspiring, with enough information to keep me going for quite a while.
The day after returning home from the selections I was off to England to attend a workshop with renowned ceramist Sasha Wardell in Bradford-on-Avon. I have been a longtime admirer of Sasha's work and through her book 'Slipcasting'  she had unknowingly been a major contributor to the development of my Bone China work. 
One of Sasha Wardell's beautiful pieces
When the opportunity arose to participate in this workshop there was no option for me but to attend. The workshop was absolutely incredible. Information and methods were shared freely, I got to work on a potter's lathe and also to work with real English Bone China and as a result I found myself looking at mouldmaking and slipcasting in a whole new light.

Turning a form on the lathe
It was so inspiring to be a part of this workshop which I am sure will impact my future work.

After the workshop it was off to London for two days. One of these was spent at the new ceramic wing at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

Part of the display at the V & A Ceramic wing

It seems ludicrous to call it a 'wing' as it comprises the entire sixth floor of the museum. This was truly an experience over which I will never get! Seeing works that I had hitherto only seen on the printed page or computer screen was phenomenal! So much work. Far to much to list, but to see Bodil Manz's magnificently proportioned cylinders, Edmund de Waal's incredible installation of over 400 pieces placed way above the viewer (about three floors) and also to see the work of legendary names like Ruth Duckworth, Colin Pearson and Walter Keeler was almost to much to take in. This was an experience that words can never justify and to say I was moved by the occasion seems trite, and yet I cannot ever remember being this effected by ceramic work.
A bird's eye view of Edmund de Waal's incredible installation
I shall be forever grateful for this experience and I can only hope that that which inspired and overwhelmed me will show in some way in the work I am yet to produce.