Sunday, February 28, 2010

Imove in Ceramics

THE handmade TABLE
(Vogue Living Australia, November/December 2009 page 67.)

We have had the ipod, the iphone, the ipad and now we have the imove, the latest in ceramic development. Work truly fit for the 21st century – it aims to go green, handcrafted with a difference and it stands proud amongst its industrial white ware counterparts.

The designer maker is an inspirational figure in ceramics, whose work meets all the design criteria for added value in the 21st century; ceramics for the conscious consumer under the revised banner of The New Luxury. Work that is innovative, creative and a manifestation of east meets west (products developed in the context of globalisation with reference to the creolization of cultures). It brings life to the dinner table as a welcomed alternative to the old boring white ware. It is not just the low-fired translucency that make the work special - it's the whole approach. a Design aesthetic for the 21st century.

I new it was going to happen, sooner than later, and here it is. Work produced with a multifaceted research approach; this is tomorrow's design challenge (in keeping with Elle Decoration's Living /2010 TRENDS). What follows is three of the ceramist's creative and innovative design solutions for producing truly inspirational work for the 21st century.
a Design aesthetic for the 21st century.
Design approach. He strives to create unique designs that are influenced by traditional Asian aesthetics as well as modern European design.
Green is the new gold. He developed a clay body for the 21st century - highly translucent soft paste porcelain that matures at an extremely low temperature. His interest in this new material, for which there are few historical precedents, grows out of a concern for the environment and reducing the carbon footprint of his practice
Handcrafted ware. He has created an alternative to white-ware (that flooded the market with a serious impact on our world). Low fired, highly translucent porcelain pieces, thrown and altered on a wheel using a mould, with a look and feel associated with industrial ceramic ware.
It is the work of AARON Nelson.

Visit Carol Epps' blog and you can obtain details about his planned workshop. He was the artist of the day on Carol Epps Blog and on version of Epps entry) Should you wish to contact him about his amazing work or about the Medalta International Artists in Residence follow the provided links. Medalta International Artists in Residence and as Artistic Director of the Shaw International Centre for Contemporary Ceramics in Medicine Hat, Alberta.
This is Tomorrow - The handmade TABLE - living beautifully with Crafted Objects.
My students, participants in workshop presentations and followers of my blog have always appreciated my insight into ceramic design trends and developments. However they often state that I do not present clear cut answers. It is because we require a multifaceted research approach to complex challenges in our quest for innovative design solutions in the 21st century. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find creative solutions when there are so many uncertainties on a global front.Two magazines have provided constant inspirational articles that address contemporary design trends from a consumer perspective. They are Elle Decoration (UK Edition) and Vogue Living Australia (Featured below the next image). Both magazines appoint world leading research consultants to provide relevant and insightful material annually. For their 2010 trends skip the next paragraph.
Why imove.
Just yesterday I bought the two magazines mentioned above and featured below. They have for a number of years provided me with relevant information; photo documentation and complimenting text, especially in my quest for innovative design solutions. They also provided the context for appreciating the latest work of Aaron Nelson that much more. After reading the magazines early this morning, I got on-line and visited Carol Epp's blog, where I entered a comment on Aaron Nelson's work, that led to this new post. However to post the comment I had to type-in the following word verification - imove. Hence the specific introduction to the iphone etc. By the way I missed the Artist of the day entry, posted earlier on Carol Epp's blog (featuring Aaron Nelsons work) - hence the response to his work on the workshop post .
Vogue Living (Australia) November/December Issue - The cover and leading editorial contribution, All in hand, features the organic beauty of things handmade; the 6 page beautifully styled photo-documentation lists amongst others the work of Janet De Boos (image above) , Sue Jones's Limoges porcelain beaker decorated by David Middle Brook and Janet Mansfield (too mention only a few well-known names) Is the tide is turning.
Elle Decoration (UK edition) no210 February 2010 - highlights 2010 Trends.The article is titled This is tomorrow. A new year; new start...but what does the future hold? Although tomorrow is never ours to know; the five dominant influences that will shape our homes, lives and the world of design can be predicted....What matters is what lasts (Michelle Ogundehin, February 2010, Elle Decoration 55. ).
The pointers are;
  1. Quiet Design; sustainability & humility. Novelty is over. too much choice is confusing. Quiet design and humble classics are the answer.
  2. Experimentation; playful humour. The future of the design industry also lies in the power of play, what's crucial is that fear doesn't get in the way.
  3. Intelligent luxury; elegant & indulgence. 2010 will see the emergence of a smarter kind of indulgence, one in which luxury and a concern for the environment unite.
  4. Idling. Take time out - Anything that balances left brain, with right brain thinking
  5. Purification. Saunas. Steam rooms at home. Still water; water features. The ritual of bathing.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

The most beautiful building in the world.

The Foyer of the Constitutional Court of South Africa.

Last Wednesday was my second visit to the Constitutional Court. The first was a walkabout conducted by Justice Albie Sacks, one of the last tours he facilitated, a two hour session of the building and the art collection. He went into retirement towards the end of last year. The second visit was by invitation, to have tea with the Art Committee members, and to deliver my ceramic sculpture, accepted into the Constitutional Court's Art Collection (follow link to post entry). I was once again reminded of the incredible design of the building; perfect in every sense of the word, and undoubtedly the most beautiful building in the world.

Justice Under a Tree

The logo of the constitutional court was based on a tree rooted in the soil, and a human figure symbolising the people's right to protection under the law. The logo was therefore adopted as the symbol of the court. But more than that , the logo directly influenced the character of the design that was to win the competition for a new Court building - built on the site of the Old Fort Prison, where Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandi were once locked up.
Making democracy work, Sandile Goje (1996), linocut, 49.5x39.5 cm.

Large Copper and Brass doors (by Andrew Lindsay and Myra Fassler-Kamstra), leading to the Court Chamber (image below).

On the wall, through the doors, is a glimpse of the Constitutional Court's Logo. Based on the linocut above.

The Court Chamber.
The carpet design was inspired by a photograph of sunlight through trees casting shadows on the ground (connecting to the outside - reinforces the idea of sitting under a tree). With reference to the constitutional Court's Logo and the print that inspired the entire design concept for the building (see wood block print above).

Fingers of Garden extend into the spaces between the individual Judges' Chambers.

The Judges Courtyard.

The Quiet Heart of the Court - Judges chambers and Gardens.

The incredible spaces and forms of the building (especially the curved walls) is best demonstrated in the judges chambers. The structures extend as fingers into ponds, forming intimate sub-courtyards (Places of contemplation). I was absolutely amazed at the attention to detail that was bestowed in the design and development of these gardens; especially the structural forms, shapes and textures that support the overall design.

Justice Johann van der Westhuizen. Art works by Norman Catherine.

Delivery of Ceramic Sculpture into the Constitutional Court of SA's collection.

Last week Wednesday I delivered my Ceramic Sculpture, Exquisite Slave, Popsie (Popsy) to the Constitutional Court. The invitation to deliver the work, included tea with the Gallery committee members. The event was held in the chambers of the Chair; honourable Justice van der Westhuizen (chambers above). Also present was the incredible Justice Cameron (a world renowned member of the gay community) and Karel Nel. This was a very special event and I was presented with a generous gift; the three publications listed below - providing the written and visual documentation for this posting.

Exhibition Gallery of the constitutional Court.

The Art Collection of the Constitutional Court.

The art Collection of the constitutional court of SA has come into being through the energies of the judges and the generosity of the art community. This is an extensive collection, which forms part of the structure of the building, on every level and in every conceivable place and space in the building. These were assigned as part of a series of competitions to design the doors, security gates, light fittings and other fittings in the Court.

The constitutional court building has helped reshape the thinking about the integration of function and aesthetics in architectural projects. At the same time, it has demonstrated how artistic vision, human rights, and the working of justice can be unified by the respect for human dignity. An introduction to the David Krut publication, Art and Justice, The Art of The Constitutional Court of south Africa.

, Dumile Feni (1987), Bronze Tubing, 100x296x170cm installed at the entrance of the constitutional court.

Dumile Feni (b ....)

The two works, the bronze sculpture above and the drawing below, is the work of one of my most adored SA artist, Dumile Feni, whom I had the privilege to meet during the cultural boycott, he was living in exile (New York and London). His work was a great inspiration to me, especially his drawings. My enlightened visit to his studio in New York in 1983 is shared below.

Prisoner I, Dumile Feni. (1968), pen and ink on paper, 44.5 - 34 cm.

I included this particular drawing of Dumile Feni, because during my Fine Art Masters study trip abroad, I was fortunate to meet Dumile at his studio in New York. I had a strange encounter during this particular visit. I was not very informed about Artists in Exile. I really did not know who he was. There were many visitors sitting in the kitchen area. I decided to explore and walked into his bed room, which was also his studio, and started to admire his drawings, that covered all four walls. A large number of modelled clay prototypes, to be cast in bronze, was strategically placed on the floor ( in relation to the drawings). I was however unaware of him lying in his bed entertaining, I assume, his girlfriend. He immediately got up and treated me as one of his finest guests (a gesture I would rather not disclose). I assume very few visitors was as consumed by the creative energy and talent displayed in that room, as I was on that day in 1983. Being white, naive and with an Afrikaans background, must have made it that more special for the both of us. We went partying the night away, at some of the most amazing clubs in New York. Dancing to Tina Turner's What's Love got do with it. His passion and drawings was an incredible inspiration to me, at the start of the final stretch of my masters program. A moment which I will never forget, even though, at the time, I did not see the significance of the man - these works of art would form part of the Neglected tradition. Now they have their rightful place in one of the finest collections of art - Art and Justice. In retrospect I was a prisoner in my own skin. These works and experiences contributed to my own very liberation - sexually, spiritually and mentally.

Light on a Hill.

A view of the building, the library (repository of knowledge), which is at the bottom of the slope of the site, at the opposite end of the Foyer and Chamber. It was designed as the tallest structure on the side of the ridge - a transparent structure, so that it could be a glowing beacon.

The above images and text is courtesy of the publications, The Constitutional Court of South Africa (first ten Years) published in 2004, Light on a Hill (Building the Constitutional Court of SA) and Art and Justice (the art of the constitutional Court of SA) published in 2008.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Hair tattoos.

Tattooed hair Styles; collection: abatfort (video of their work). Abat Fort BARBER Shop (their studio).

Hair styles; Cultural Representation and Signifying Practices.

History and traditions.
It’s your crowning glory, the top of your knot, the pinnacle of your person, your icing on the cake. It’s your hair and you don’t feel good unless your hair looks good. But what does it say about you?. Your Life? Your personal style? Your place in the community? In African society it speaks volumes, reflecting different cultures and identifying social and religious functions.
This statement is the introductory paragraph, Preface of the catalogue for the exhibition, Hair in African Art and Culture, held in 2000 at the Museum for African Art, New York. written by Elise Crum McCabe (President) and Anne Stark (Deputy Director) Editors Sieber R & Herreman F, Hair in African Art and Culture, Prestel New York, 2000

The last section in the catalogue is dedicated to contemporary hairstyles (images on the left). How things have changed since the launch of this exhibition in the year 2000 (10 years ago)? Body adornment is once again the defining factor of whom we might be (tribal dress). It involves every aspect of the body: including the skin (flesh), the hair, the garment and finally the accessories.

This is best explored and envisaged in the work of the contemporary South African Artist featured below.

Going Native, Joao the Portuguese, one of five portraits in South African Artist, Andrew Putters' African Hospitality exhibition. visit Michael Stevens host of this exhibition. Read a review of his work.

Putter is driven, says some of his critics, 'to create a body of work about Europeans who had gone "native". His work is inspired by historical facts; the immersion of European shipwreck survivors into Pondo society' Natalie Rosa Bucher - Cape Times Wednesday, December 30, 2009.

For me the work is closely associated with the notion of whom we are in a changing global society, spurned on by the creolization of cultures and more importantly going back to our roots; as to who we really might be (beyond nationalism). Hence the fascination with body adornment in all aspects of the word; in the context of recent studies - cultural representations and signifying practices. This most certainly provides the context for contemporary society's fascination with tattoos, piercings and now hair tattoos, expounded below.

Tattooed Hair style by Gerhard Osler.

Tattooed Hair Studios and Barbers.
I recently had coffee in the faculty’s designer café, there I noticed the trendy hair style of a student sitting at the table next to me. I realised there and then that I should have incorporated the hair style as a reference in the development of the surfaces for my tattooed rats. This post entry therefore is only a glimpse into the world of Tattooed Hair styles. I pay homage to some of the world’s finest stylists and their craft (images of their skill) including a seminar, to be held over the next few months – the transfer of skills and techniques associated with the trendy hairstyle. For a step by step guide visit the link at Hairdressers International Interactive.

List of Barbers:Tattoo Hairstyles
Olivier Abat and Guillaume Fort.

The finest hair stylists of the tattoo variety is Olivier Abat and Guillaume Fort. Their studio is named Abat Fort: Pour La Homme (barber shop). Visit their blog and you can see them in action and or on Youtube. The ability to vary the thickness of the hair is what makes his skills so special. There studio has mastered the technique as this fine example on the left demonstrates.Obviously there are different styles - but their skill and craftsmanship, in my view, is best demonstrated this way. The close resemblance to tattoos is obvious. It would be really exciting if the two body adornment skills could be designed and developed to compliment each-other, especially when colour is added. We will have to wait and see who endeavour's to do this first.. Videos @ Youtube

Tattooed Hair style. African American.

Looking back, looking forward!

What will the next body adornment trend be - it could well be rooted in our understanding of traditional customs and practices. Below are some references that could influence the trends of the future - could hair combs, in a variety of styles make their comeback as a sought after accessory.

Traditional Mende woman Hairstyles. Photo Alldridge, Late 19 Century. Take note to what extent it had an influence on the sculptural style of masks (below).

Helmet mask, sowei. Mende, Liberia, Wood, Raffia. H:30.5. Collection and Copyright W M Itter. Catalogue for the Exhibition, Hair in African Art and Culture.

Hair in African Art and culture - with reference to traditional cultural representations and signifying practices.

Two years ago I purchased the catalogue referred to above, because I adore the forms and shapes of African artefacts inspired by the traditional African hair styles and accessories. My interest sparked by our Graduation Ceremonies. Graduation at the university is always exciting – especially the variety of hairstyles of the graduates. Hair extensions of every kind, colour variation and style are on display. However it is the hair accessories and in particular the traditional headrests and combs that fascinate me (see images below) . These are fine examples of Africa's design style (at its best). The refinement of forms, shapes and attention to detail are just remarkable – showcasing the value and significance; the importance of hair in African Culture. I am particularly interested in there Cultural representations and signifying practices.

Comb, Democratic Republic of Congo(?). Wood H: 23.9cm. Collection and copyright; Ethnography Museum, Antwerp. Catalogue for the Exhibition, Hair in African Art and Culture.

Comb, Lugura or Kaguru, Tanzania. Wood H:15.5cm. Collection and copyright; Joyce Marie Sims. Catalogue for the Exhibition, Hair in African Art and Culture.

Barber shop sign, Enamel paint on wood panel. H:74.3, 59.9, & 60.5 cm's respectively. Private Collections. Images and copyright with the Museum for African Art; Catalogue for the Exhibition, Hair in African Art and Culture.

Barber Shop Signs.
The painted images above are some of the finest examples of barber shop signs, hammered to kiosks in Africa (advertisements for a trendy hairstyle). The painted images showcase the different choice of design styles on offer, including Boeing 707, Concord Cut and Ladies Sloop. During the eighties the signs became sought after artefacts (tourists local and abroad) and adorned the living room walls of many liberal white South Africans. Could these have been the catalyst in the post colonial, multi cultural society's quest for pursuing their very own cultural roots and associated identity.