Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Ceramic Convergence

Group exhibition invitation.

The Exhibition of my latest work will be at venue objekt address 32, 7th avenue Parktown North. Date 6 August 2009 time 17h30 for 18h00. The other artists include John Shirley, Lesley- Ann Hoets and Gemma Orkin.

active/passive - action /passion ! (Title of body of work)

Press release for my work.

Rodents, mice and rats are symbols of the underworld, of destruction, of evil, rarely seen in Renaissance Art. It is a plague animal, a symbol of death, decay and the powers of darkness. These creatures often invade the home and are spotted in amongst the pots, pans, crockery and pottery. They were the major vehicle for spreading the disease during the black plaque, however their moment of glory came when they featured prominently on the famous wooden furniture of the 1920's carpenter, Robert Thompson.

This exhibition features rats in a variety of animated confrontational configurations. We live in a world plagued by hot wars with no front (Umberto Eco; Turning back the clock 2008) - the enemy lurking within (the enemy is amongst us) and around us. Clothed in their respective symbolic floral outfits ( ceramic transfers) and or branding their tattooed insignia (sgraffito); they will embody the conflicting views of respective groupings in the plaque of intolerance prevalent in our society today. Their tails are shaped as weapons and when coated with gold and platinum are reminiscent of threatening stilettos. All these symbolic gestures turn them, on close observation , into fundamentalist and extremist brats (bullies); ready to spread their anger and frustration, reminiscent of their actions during the black plaque.

Tattoos are playing and increasingly significant role in the development of the concepts of my ceramic statements , especially with regard to surface development, complimenting the forms and shapes; becoming the defining factor in determining the inherent meaning of the ceramic piece.

Like tattoos, with reference to Thimotheos Roussos' interpretation (in his essay A man's 'true face', concealing/revealing masculinity's Witi Ihimaera), the insignia (decoration) on the ceramic sculptures draws the gaze of the viewer, exercises the power of fascination and lowers certain defences. The eye isolates and follows the decorative patterns of the design before seduction subsides and the symbolism provokes the viewer to respond and engage the underlining meaning.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Naked Tattooed Rats

Group of Tattooed Rats in the Flesh. Tattooed Rats (colour) fired to 1250 degrees Celsius. Painted and incised.
Next week is the Exhibition. Press Release to follow on Wednesday. Here are some finished works photographed for the faithful followers - a preview.

The Queen in the face of hell , Pair of Tattooed Rats (colour) fired to 1250 degrees Celsius. Painted and incised.

The Pansy and the Self-righteous. Pair of Tattooed Rats (colour) fired to 1250 degrees Celsius. Painted and incised.

Self-righteous and the Hell-raiser, Black and Red Sgraffito (fired to 1250 degrees Celsius).
Painted and incised. For a detailed step by step account of the process see previous blog entry below.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Latest Sgraffito in full colour.

Group of confrontational rats - colour painting and sgraffito (two sets unfired)
Two weeks to go before the opening of the exhibition. Making serious progress. The ideas are coming much faster. What has been a major challenge was to integrate the design on the body of the rats - complimenting the voluptuous forms.The challenge now is to integrate some of the various techniques and processes. Combining the black and white sgraffito with some sections in colour including transfers and lustres if at all possible. What is going to be exciting for the viewers of this exhibition is the diverse range of surfaces developed, all with the same theme. From transfers on a transparent glaze with gold and silver lustre, transfers on vitrified under-glaze colours, to monochromatic black and white sgraffito and some in colour (shown here). I will do an entry showcasing the various techniques up close, to compare the various results.

The Face of Hell. up close (unfired) - detail of painting and sgrafitto.

Pair of confrontational rats, seen from above unfired (in full colour).

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sgraffito Technique Step by Step.

Final Pair, Sgraffito and painting technique step by step.

Below is a step by step account of the sgraffito technique of the rat on the left. I use paper cutouts of the symbols and insignia to trace the designs onto the surface before painting the base colour over the entire body of the rat. Once the rat is painted there is really no room for error. One needs to work quickly because the base colour is drying (surface to brittle to carve - due to the binder in the Amaco under glaze colour). There is a high shrinkage (1220 degrees celsius) and the designs are therefore much more refined. See previous post entry (image) for the fired surface quality.

Stage One, Tracing and Painting on the Design.

Stage Two, painting the base colour around the symbols and insignia.

Stage three, Incising the tattoo inspired designs.

One needs to wait a while for the base colour to dry before incising (not too dry or too wet).

Stage Four, Integrating the design over the entire form.

Final Stage, Incising the detail.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sgraffito and Painting; latest developments

Sgraffito Surface Quality up close. Fired.

Two pairs of Rats. Sgraffito and painting, Black and white including colour - unfired.

Getting into the swing of things - three weeks to go before the exhibition. I just love decorating and incising. Here are images showcasing the refinement of the sgraffito technique (up close). It was necessary to include painting, especially with the inclusion of symbols. There was not enough differentiation / tension between the symbols and overall texture (in the background).

Pair of rats, Close-up of colour painting and sgraffito - unfired.

Pair of Rats, Close-up of Sgraffito and painting technique (black and white) unfired.

Sgraffito and painting; Black and white close-up (detail).

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tattooed rats; devine intervention or synchronicity?

The Tattooed Rats - a novel, By Jerry B. Jenkins and John Perrodin.

Just recently I posted blog entries providing insight into the symbolism of the Rat (rat plague of intolerance) and the significance of tattoos as surface development options. It would seem some other cultural practitioner reached the same creative conclusion as a vehicle for personal expression (metaphor).

Out there is a christian novel with the same title as my latest blog entry (below). The book, The Tattooed Rats (cover image posted above), was written by Jerry B Jenkins and John Perrodin. Reviewers and publishers' comments praise this piece of fiction with an apocalyptic genre aimed at the christian youth. The author captures a future (2012) where the Christians are outlawed because of their faith. Patch, the main character, meets secret members of the Tattooed Rats (a Gang) and learns things are not what they seem, living in a world where enemies are friends, and friends are enemies.In the novel Christianity is outlawed and sharing faith is considered hate speech. Worship is done in secret, underground. Believers, in a futuristic world find out how tough it can be, to be a true christian.

The novel paints a rather gloomy picture for believers in a changing world, not because of their faith, as reviewers of the novel (and the author) would make us believe, but due to their expressed fundamentalist views (see News paper article below), often in direct conflict with basic human rights. God is love and his world should reflect tolerance and respect.

Bishop of Rochester condemned.

Christian fundamentalist's views on gays and other moral issues are having an alienating effect on society. The Bishop of Rochester, Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, was condemned for calling gays to repent. The bishop was accused of pandering to hate and homophobia.

Peter Tatchell, the gay rights campaigner, said he was "shocked" at the level of anti-gay prejudice voiced by the bishop. "Homophobia is a social and moral evil, just like racism. Bigotry, even in the guise of religion, has no place in a compassionate, caring society, " he said "I call on the bishop to repent his homophobia. His prejudice goes against Christ's gospel of love and compassion."

The bishops controversial remarks were published just hours after more than a half a million people, including the British Prime Minister's wife, Sarah, took part in the Gay Pride parade in London. The Independent, reported by Lewis Smith on Monday 6 July 2009.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Tattooed rats

Tattooed Rat. Black sgraffito
One month to go before the exhibition and I have mastered the techniques and processes. The exhibition should be interesting, considering the diverse range of surface development options. Here are the latest developments. Now its down to the choice of insignia and symbols, including the pairing and or groupings. Display is very important; to maximise the expressive potential of the body work.

A pair of crafty Rats.
Black, brown and white sgraffito surface development options, based on tattoos as discussed in previous posting.

Tattooed rat, black and brown sgraffito (final result).
My objective has been to create a product that is also craft based; although I do find the final result successful - I am not use to my work being so rooted within ceramic techniques and processes (too crafty). It's growing on me. This is a very different look than the rats decorated with heart shaped transfers, including gold and silver lustered tails - far more in keeping with my earlier work (posted earlier).

A Flesh-ish affair.
A surface test to create a flesh like appearance for the rat, complete with tattoos. The opportunity exists to apply transfers directly on the flesh like surface. An exciting alternative surface option for the exhibition.