A beginner’s guide to constructing the universe-The mathematical archetypes of nature, art and science, states: “In ancient Greece the advanced students ... who were engaged in deep studies of natural science and self-understanding where called mathematekoi, “those who studied all”. The word mathema signified “learning in general, to be aware, to awaken”.
If there is such a thing as mathematekoi ( a curious one) using clay as a medium...I am one.
I will start in 2012 with making of Gateway 21
In the Grain of Sand is on
its way to Bondi, traveling across the Nullarbor on Johannes Pannekoek’s trailer,
the journey I am yet to make. It is certainly in the good hands and in the good
company. This time I’m staying behind, feeling a bit like a mother of the child
on the first school trip. (enough said).
The excitement of the Open
Studios Kalamunda is over for another year, and I’m enjoying the clean and tidy
(once a year look!) space. The studio is basking in the positive energy of
Sunday’s visitors, and I’m reluctant to disturb the glow. Like starting a new
visual diary – blank, white, clean page to be savoured for a while, and then filled
with…well, whatever happens….
I am ready for the new project,
and so the journey begins….
I am working on the Seed:
largely inspired by
microscopic images of pollens and seeds, and configurations of bubbles. It continues
the exploration of the infinitely small, microscopic and seemingly
insignificant, and at the same time explores the symbolism of the seed as the
nucleus, the essence of being, the creative starting point and the potential
The configuration of bubbles.....
It all started with the notion of the membrane separating the inner and outer space. Living in the bubble, blowing bubbles, bursting bubbles....there are plenty of metaphors to play with.
If you take two sheets of
clear glass or plastic separated by about one-half inch, soak them in soapy
solution and then blow bubbles between the sheets, you will get many bubble
walls. If you look closely, you will notice that all of the vertices where
three bubble walls meet (and there are always three,) form 120 degree angles.
If your bubbles are of uniform size, you will notice that the cells form
hexagons and start to look much like the cells of a beehive. Bees, like
bubbles, try to be as efficient as possible when making the comb. They want to
use the minimum possible amount of wax to get the job done. Hexagonal cells are
the science, mystery and complexity of glazes, and occasionally I teach the ‘Understanding
Glazes” course. Some of the students that come to the course are disappointed at
the lack of straight answers and quick fixes, and others get mesmerized by the unlimited
possibilities. Mostly, I teach Glaze technology as a cooking class. And it
makes sense. There are limited number of ingredients, some of them local, you
mix them together in various proportions and heat them to the various
temperatures. The “mystery and magic” of transformation of raw ingredients into
the glassy surfaces comes from unfamiliarity. Most of us can name at least 5 different
foods made from eggs, fat, water and wheat flour in different ratios.
(pancakes, bread, pasta, dumplings, profiteroles, omelette, scrambled eggs, egg
sandwich, pastry, basic mayonnaise, custard……). What happens if I expand it to “any
flour” instead of “wheat flour”? What if we allow “additives” (spices,
Yes, very soon we can say that the possibilities
are almost limitless.
So, why don’t we see the “magic” in making an omelette
the same way we do when we mix glazes?
For most of us it is about familiarity. If we
were exposed to glaze materials as often and from as young age as we are to
cooking, we would be just as comfortable with mixing a glaze as we are with
scrambling eggs for breakfast.
There is another thing, and that is that we (humans)
prefer simple answers, even to the complex questions.
We have so much going on in our lives…most of
the time we can’t really cope even with the full scope of the sensory input
available (smells, sounds, visual stimuli, movement…) let alone more complex
matters (relationships, complex problem solving…) so our brains shut down the
flood gates in front of the complexity and only open the little doors: just
give me the simple answer I can trust and don’t have to think too much about
Yet, on the other hand, we (humans) fully
accept and understand that some questions don’t have simple answers.
And that brings me to the new idea. The next
step from the “cooking class” in understanding glazes is the “psychology class”.
It is a big jump, but bear with me for a while.
Psychology, in simplified terms, is mostly
about the relationships. It is also something that although only a few of us
study, most of us are familiar enough with to understand that there are no
simple answers to some (in terms of psychology, I dare say most) questions.
How do I find the perfect partner?
(most of the mature adults will only smile )
How do I make the grey speckle glaze that looks
(the answer is the same as to the question
above: you won’t know until you test it)
And here are two images which prompted this philosophical
The glazes on the images are the same, applied
in the same manner, fired on the same kiln shelf. The only difference is the
clay body. Both are white stoneware.
One variable that we don’t even take in serious
consideration most of the time, as long as it is the same general type…
Unfortunately I didn’t get to see it, but it was really exciting to be involved
in the project. Here are few "work in progress" images
In the Grain of Sand was shown at the Sculpture by the Sea in Cottesloe.
Here is wonderful image by Jessica Wyld
Maybe you are fast enough to spot it in the video:
And the new sculpture: Seed of Tomorrow was created and shown in Mandurah.
I will tell you more about it in the next post.
As you can see it was really busy time.Too busy to tell you about it at the time. It is kind of nice to sit back now and reflect, sort, contemplate and hibernate a little. ( It is "winter" in Australia).
I'm having a lot of fun with this project, yet every time I attempt to talk or write about it I stumble for words. I don't know where to start or what to say. As I mentioned in a previous post, the brief is to make objects that are reminiscent of Victorian European ceramic, yet decayed and malformed. Bruised, distorted,misshapen, rot, peeling skin, are some of the referencing descriptive words. Well, most of the work is finished, glazed and fired, yet I am reluctant to let it go. I am confused with it. I am fascinated by the turmoil they are creating in my thoughts.I created them and I am attracted and repulsed by them at the same time. I feel as if I'm staring at someones misshapen and scared face, knowing that it is rude, yet unable to stop. (and I have created them!!) I can't even photograph them properly. They are challenging me on so many levels! So, here we go, a selection of unedited images. And I would love to hear your thoughts: