11 November 2010

Day 6 - Dare I cover ceramics?

Whenever I couldn't sleep I used to call my boyfriend (now husband) and ask him very open-ended questions about ceramics - glazes, wood firing, reduction firings, kiln building. I'd be asleep in minutes. The verdict is out on whether it was his soothing voice or the subject matter.
Ceramic-based sculptures and functional pieces are our livelihood and I am needed to remain wide-eyed. No more bed time stories about blue celadon or copper reds.  In Australia, ceramics is an art that is slowly trudging after that 'cool again' craft revival - not tearing ahead into the Contemporary Art world as quick as say, taxidermy or crochet.  The craft art thing (the second time around, the first occurring after the industrial revolution) is again reactionary - against cheap mass production, faceless mega companies, instant gratification. Tarkovsky put it more profoundly when he said,
 Modern mass culture, aimed at the 'consumer', the civilisation of prosthetics, is crippling people's souls, setting up barriers between man and the crucial questions of his existence, his consciousness of himself as a spiritual being
Though I dare say the majority seem content to veer away from questions of spirituality to stitch their own retro owl toys or lino cut bambi to sell on Etsy.  Paper boat press has the kind of marketable cutesy craft ceramics that are coming to define the new craft art movement.
jellyfish installation coe & waito

The thing I have come to love about the ceramic world is for all its anxieties about whether it is a functionable craft or art is that it feels like a dysfunctional family. Even the title given to individual practitioners - potter, ceramicist, ceramic artist.... can be the subject of ridicule, debate, snubbing or more occasionally, fraternity.
So I won't deviate into discussions on art or craft but look at some triumphs of functionality, design and art for art's sake in ceramics.
Takeshi Yesuda | Squirrel-tailed Cream jug | White earthenware, with creamware glaze



Edmund de Waal

Edmund de Waal, In a Garden 2010


Edmund de Waal is one of the artists who is using ceramics as the primary medium for eloquent installations that are high art. His work has been exhibited at the Tate Britain and the Victoria and Albert Museum. The artist is also a critically acclaimed author, here is his book The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance