Saturday, 24 December 2016


First you cut 550 pieces of metal. Then you drill 880 holes. And then you start welding them together again....

 As they grow larger I'm giving up on neutral background photos:

One third done....

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

more small steps

Once I have a few bolts glued in place I can measure the distance between the bolts and start designing the frame. Of course, I could measure the shrinkage of clay and try to work it out mathematically instead, but this is much safer option.

 It is really important to get distances and angles right, or nothing will fit together.

Looks about right. Now I can do the cutting list and chop 60 m of flats into small bits. FUN!!

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

small steps

The tile production is going smoothly,so it is time to start thinking about the next step: fixing the bolts in the holes at the back of the tiles.
I know that it sounds simple: you glue them in, right? 
There are a few things that need to be considered. Without some sort of support the bolts will not stand straight (as you can see on the left):

Previously I had 3 bolts per tile and a simple template with 3 holes was enough to keep them where I wanted them to be. With 2 bolts per tile the situation changes as they can still topple forward:

After a few ( a good FEW) trials and errors I have settled on this template:

That will keep them in place! 
Well, that took the whole morning. I'm using recycled aluminium printing plates for making templates.Now I need to cut about 25 of them, and precisely drill the 4 holes in each one.  That will take care of the afternoon.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

the third project

The third project is very different. I am making objects that are reminiscent of Victorian European ceramic, yet decayed and malformed.
It is a great project, very different from what I normally make and I'm thoroughly enjoining it.
You would not believe how difficult it is to make malformed pots!!! I'm throwing them on a potters wheel, which doesn't take kindly to uncentered clay,  but than my instincts are to smooth, even out and perfect. Which is quite strange as I don't usually strive for those qualities. All of the sudden, with coil throwing larger vessels, I am transported right back to the student days at art school...and I have to very consciously move away from it.
The thing is, although objects are meant to be decayed and malformed, I still want them to have a beauty within them.
Here are some bisque fired surfaces:

And some drying:

And some that didn't make it:

I was going to keep it, but by the afternoon the whole top has collapsed inside the vessel.
So I went and bought a new hose for my gas bottle blow torch. I haven't used one of them for a while. It certainly speeds the drying process!!

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

In the Grain of Sand

At the moment I’m working on 3 interesting projects. 
Producing 220 tiles for the large sculpture has a nice rhythm of making, drying and firing, and I don't want to think about the next step - making the frame.
The sculpture is/will be titled: In the Grain of Sand. 
I don't really like naming the work before it is made as it could possibly restrict the growth of the idea, but in this case it was necessary.
It continues my exploration of the infinitely small, microscopic and, in this case, fragmented; and at the same time evokes ideas of complexity of the universe, individuality, fragmentation, decomposition and questions of origin. All of it in the grain of sand.

With 220 tiles in the making, the space in the studio is becoming limited
finished tiles:
It will be interesting to see how it all comes together. 

Second project is connected to the first: the Grain of Sand Studies.
I am enlarging imaginary fragments - grains of sand and exploring the shapes and textures.
I'm using terracotta, stoneware and porcelain clays as well as sand. Needless to say that those materials all behave differently and I have no idea if they will stay together through the drying and firing process. First tests have just come out of the firing and I'm happy with the results: colour of terracotta is nice dark chocolate brown, and it stayed together with the other clay. Yay.
Now I have to be very patient and allow the works to dry thoroughly before firing them. Not being familiar with terracotta, I can't just judge by the colour.
Here are a few photos of the works in progress:

Friday, 4 November 2016


I have been away from the studio for 6 weeks, or was it longer? It seems a long time ago that I was feverishly working towards the solo show, and then packing up a suitcase and travelling for a month.  
This week, I’m back and making.
It is “another big one”. Every big sculpture I make has some known elements and some new ones, and it takes me few steps further into the unknown. This sculpture is not based on the geodesic dome. It is based on geometric shape called rhombic triacontahedron. It consists of 30 rhomboids, and it looks something like this:

Why this particular shape? It feels right. Not too simple and not too complex. And although this particular shape is not found in nature (that I’m aware of) it resonates with the natural forms through the idea of faceted sphere.
Could it "feel right" because the lengths of the diagonals are in the golden ratio?

This is the concept drawing of the sculpture that I'm making:

It will be made from 220 identical 3d tessellated tiles. Although the sculpture's skeleton is a 3d geometric shape, I want the finished sculpture to be organic and intuitively accepted as natural.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016


It has been over 2 months of blog silence. The exhibition has been packed away and shortly afterwards we have packed our bags and ventured on a month long trip to the USA and Canada. Right now I’m talking to you from beautiful Quebec. This travels are primarily a family holiday, and a sensory overload of sights, sounds and flavours from New York to New Orleans and beyond. Studio is far away from mind and body, although I can’t help (occasionally) wondering if and how will this experience influence what I make.

This is a Biosphere in Montreal, most amazing example of geodesic dome I have ever seen:

With trees within, outside...

...and plants slowly taking over:
love it!!

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Standing at Water's Edge - catalogue essay

Standing at water’s edge…
Does it evoke the image of waves gently caressing the shore, sun glittering on the surface, and rhythmical sounds of the ocean breathing in and out?
Or dark and deep angry waters powerfully crashing onto the shore with relentless energy and thunderous sounds, goaded by the wind?
Do you ever think of it as the border of the realm we belong to and the one we can only visit for a short time. Fascinating, Intriguing, Inviting?
I am drawn to the big bodies of water, as many of us are. I like standing at the water’s edge, listening to the rhythmical breathing of the waves. I can spend hours pondering and meditating, acutely aware of the vastness of the ocean and another world hiding under the surface. World within world. Divided or connected by the membrane separating water from air. Sometimes, the connection I feel is so deep that I am acutely aware of the origin of life. My cells used to belong to the ocean. I can feel the tides in my body. I belong.
It is an immersive, intense and short lived experience.
I try to capture and communicate that experience through the objects I make. I don’t have words for those thoughts, so I am exploring them through making the objects that speak of them, that allow me to glimpse the holistic nature of our universe and our being in it.
I look at many natural forms and learn from them.
Planktons, pollens, microscopic images of insects and butterfly eggs.....
There is such diversity, rhythm and playfulness of form in those tiny objects, but what intrigues me the most is the abundance of the little individual variations, complexity of the form and their beauty.
To me, those forms symbolize life. Life as significant as mine. Fragile and strong. Unique and universal.
Nature, of course, never makes straight lines or perfectly symmetrical curves. It grows forms in the seemingly spontaneous and playful, yet ordered and rhythmic way. I try to observe closely and grasp the essence of each form in order to create the visual symbols, language without words that will talk about life. Not human life. Universal life.
Using clay to express my ideas is a two way process. The choice of the material and techniques defines the forms I can make, and is defined by my ability to manipulate and understand the material I use. I love the feel, the smell, and the idea of using a natural, earthy, ancient material to explore and express thoughts. It is extremely pliable and responsive to the slightest touch, and at the same time often incapable of holding its own weight and very fragile when dry.
I use all the traditional forming techniques in making my work: handbuilding, press moulding, wheel throwing and slip casting; and many innovative, atypical ones. I like to think of my practice as a creative one, a synthesis that does not fit neatly into the preconceived boxes of art, craft and design, but moves freely across the fields.

“Everyone agrees that making art involves self-expression. However, I suggest that genuine creativity involves much more. It involves the artist immersing in the art form, which then invites the audience into that immersive space. Creativity reaches for connection.”*

*Dr. Anne Paris: Standing at Water's Edge: Moving Past Fear, Blocks, and Pitfalls to Discover the Power of Creative Immersion, New World Library, June 1, 2008

Monday, 11 July 2016

Standing at Water's Edge

Stewart Scambler gave a thoughtful talk at the opening, and I'm posting it here with his permission:

Standing at Waters Edge

Good evening and welcome to standing at the waters edge.
We meet today on Whadjuk Noongar land and I acknowledge them as the spiritual and cultural custodians of this land.

40-50 thousand years ago the inhabitants of the north of this state applied images to the walls and roofs of caves and rock shelters. That these images endured the passage of time owes much to the stable structure of the raw, unfired, naturally occurring ceramic materials used. Images such as these can be found through Asia and locations in Europe although it can be argued that these are much younger.
The images speak of knowledge of country, of an intimate bond with the flora and fauna that existed there at the time. They speak of hopes, fears, failures and successes and are at once deeply personal and spiritually moving—a glimpse into our own nature from the very deep past.
The technical leap required to successfully fire clay did not occur for another 30 thousand years. From that point history becomes literally littered with fragments of pottery-both domestic and ritual—of an ever increasing technical ability. Our museums contain fragments, whole vessels, figurative and architectural ceramics that chart the personal and spiritual lives of the people that lived in early civilisations. The stories are humanly similar but regional and different, bound up in their own locale. Through history, as trade developed on the road to the concept of globalisation, the individual stories became blurred. The status delivered by something from somewhere else became important. Add to that the development of industrial mass production and with only a few exceptions the individual and regional stories in ceramics disappeared. So much so that now in most cities of the world you can find ceramics designed by a Scandinavian but manufactured somewhere in Asia.

All that said though industrial ceramics are deep in our lives. They are in our houses, our transport, communications depend on them, from the glossy paper in magazines ,--who would forgo their phone? Essential as these items are, the ceramic components are invisible - only part of a whole –they tell no individual stories.
Everything changes when clay is in the hands of a committed ceramic artist.
The objects around you did not spring to life of their own accord. Some are beautiful and some challenging and some both.They are the result of intellect examining broadly and in the minutest detail an environment. There is evidence of a successful quest to understand and come to terms with the deepest physical and emotional structure of that environment.
There is not just an intellectual reporting ,there is evidence that the imagery has been formed by applying a highly developed intuitive (some may say heart) sense to add an extra layer of meaning and abstraction.

All of that would come to naught if Andrea had not spent years understanding the nature of clay, developing and honing her skills so that her hands could execute what head and heart demand.
There are stories here. Personal stories from Andrea. Questions about what it is like to be at a boundary of existence, at water’s edge so to speak, where life, death and renewal are displayed in real and abstract ways . They have much in common with the core of the ancient rock art. The stories are skilfully woven and leave room for you, the viewer to add your own experience.
I urge you to look and really see the stories .They are told in ways that the written word cannot.

Thank you.

Stewart Scambler      8 July 2016

Thank you Stewart!!!