Monday, March 28, 2011

Two South African Master Potters exhibit at Digby Hoets' Studio.

Digby Hoets studio.

I was asked by the editor of Ceramics Art and perception to review the recent exhibition of two of South Africa’s Master Potters, Digby Hoets & Andrew Walford. Two old Masters; a 3 Day exhibition was a treat to those that dared to venture out during the cloudy and wet weekend on the Highveld.
Idyllically displayed pots of Walford and Hoets.
Mighty storms hit Johannesburg – a downpour that lasted 3-4 hours. Even my own flat, on the first floor, was under water. The entire kitchen, lounge, studio and bedroom were three centimeters and in certain places, four centimeters under water (parquet flooring). A blockage in the drain in the catchment area caused the flooding.  Luckily the air is dry, very dry, and by the end of the weekend everything was back to normal – no serious damage was done, I could have been electrocuted. Numerous books, magazines, some of my curtains and the flooring in places were damaged. It was a major operation to undo the blockage, sweep out the water, open all the doors and windows to dry out everything, all in the wet and in the dark. All my art books and magazines were piled in layers on the studio floor – only the books at the bottom of the layers were damaged. Five diligent flat helpers ensured an unimaginable swift and painless cleanup operation.

On Sunday I made my way to the Digby studio in Midrand, venue for the exhibition. Hoets moved here five years ago and what a treat. The surroundings, the style of the place, and the warmth of the studio, provided a perfect setting for the work of two of South Africa’s master potters. Their studios, Andrew’s idyllic spot featured previously on this blog (my workshop in 2009), must rate as the most fabulous potter havens in the country.
Digby’s studio must be an absolute treat for his students. If I had to be an aspiring potter, I most definitely would choose this master potter, with his studio and dedication, to introduce me to the world of clay. Being able to learn the craft of pottery in this environment is an absolute luxury. Don’t get me wrong; his place is the perfect space to escape to, whenever one needs to indulge in the craft of pottery. Just to behold it, in all its splendour, is a treat – to indulge in the 'handmade' in this idyllic spot must be heaven from a wannabe potter’s perspective. 

Not since my trip to Gladstone Potteries, Wedgwood and Spode in 1984, did I experience anything quite like this. Authenticity is what it is all about, and his place and pottery space has it and says it all – as close to nature and the heart of the city as you can possibly get. And what is more important, is that it is manifested in his work, gigantic pots, of architectonic proportions, lots of it, clinging to the landscape and the studio as livestock to a kraal and homestead. Here are a few images, the best of which will hopefully compliment the text in my review of their latest work to feature in the magazine, Ceramics Art and Perception. This is the most professional publication available, an academic stance on ceramics, in all forms, shapes and surface development options, including techniques and methods worldwide. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ballpoint pen drawings of Peony sprays; pattern options.

More peony sprays, pattern options. Ballpoint pen drawings.

Ballpoint pen drawings
 of peony sprays original.
This blog post is an extension of the previous entry, showcasing more drawings for the animators to work with. It reveals further colour options for the peony sprays in a variety of patterns. As stated the peony decoration will be projected on the decoy ducks and refers metaphorically to positive change brought about by the advances of the five clawed dragon. For details refer to the previous blog entry. I still need to do a yellow and maybe an orange peony. It is envisaged that the installation with projection will take the form of a cycle; from a clean bright white installation, moving into blue and white decoration followed by a wide range of colour, the peony sprays showcased here, and finally darkness, the shadow cast by the dragon. Before the cycle repeats itself. 
More ballpoint pen drawings of peony sprays (original on the right)
The dragon will move in the water amongst the decoy ducks as captured in the image below. The drawing and photo montage is not completed yet. The water as well as the decoy ducks require detail and surface decoration to set the scene for the next stage in the design development. All these drawings are being captured in a book for next week's discussion with the animators to address a number of critical factors. They include the size of the installation, the number of products and their individual sizes. This will be determined by the size of the projected ceramic decoration - surface development options. The peony sprays needs to be big enough to have the desired impact. The dragon will not be a drawn but a scanned image of the actual five-clawed dragon, as captured below. Everything else will be drawn and animated in the projection. 

In other words the ceramic installation  will consist of undecorated high fired ceramic sculptures of decoy ducks and mountains. The decoration will all be projected and animated. 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Ballpoint pen drawings of peony and foliage.

Ballpoint pen drawing of peony and foliage.
The next stage of the animated projection will feature the five clawed dragon moving through the water displaying his power over the elements, ensuring growth, the much anticipated changes of spring and summer seasons, as reflected in the luxuriant flowers and foliage. 
As mentioned in a previous blog post, the dragon is China's most significant spiritual animal as Nike recently discovered; they had to withdraw an advertisement that incorporated the slaying of a five clawed dragon - a national heritage symbol of strength and power. The dragon has power over the rain, the wind and water. The heavenly dragon, unlike its European counterpart, is therefore not an evil creature. It promotes good luck as well as warding off evil spirits. 
Pattern options explored for animation purposes.
The five clawed dragon advances effortlessly through the water with scorn and contempt at matters inhumane. Spurned on by his own volition to rid the world of evil, he stretches forth his claws in every direction as he brings forth change (power over the elements). The change will be reflected in the projected surface decoration on the decoy ducks and mountains (inspired by Chinese brush rests) shown in previous posts. The decoration will change from blue and white into full colour. 
An extremely rare 'Famille-Rose' Monteith.
Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period.
cited in Sothebys catalogue. London 7 november 2007.
This is represented in the flame like growth of the foliage in spring and finally the full blown peony sprays in summer inspired by the ceramic decoration of the ceramic vessel above and its interior shown below. The dragon represents those individuals whom against all odds, followed their own conviction, and brought change within society. Bringing joy and freedom in all its glory and splendour, much appreciated by those in favour of and open and free society. 
Interior vessel above (detail).