Monday, November 18, 2013

Ian Garrett's one-of-a-kind handmade ceramic pots and bowls; a living national treasure of the highest order.

All photographs by the blogger.
There is something incredible about objects that are handmade. Especially if they are masterly crafted to the degree where the work challenges our perceptions and notions of the handmade. The work exudes perfection of the highest order, to the point where it becomes otherworldly – almost inhuman. Authenticity takes on a different meaning when you admire these works.  
Mastering the craft of ceramics, weaving and or jewellery design and manufacture at this level is beyond imagination.  One stands in awe when confronted by these works. They work on all levels. The honed skill of the craftsperson has reached a level of maturity that makes every pot a masterpiece.

The bowl I bought.
Every work is finished to the same degree of perfection without compromise.  I stood in bewilderment at the degree of perfection that oozes out of the work of Ian Garrett. Even if you try to look for a mistake, you wont find one.  They say of excellent sports people, the cream of the crop, that on a very bad day, they  can still beat the best.

The same could be said of a master potter like Ian Garrett.  He has such a high level of expectation of himself that he would not for one moment exhibit any ceramic work that will question the craftsman’s judgment. The one-of-a-kind aesthetic is demonstrated in the forms, the shapes and the surface development. 
The work is in another league. For this critic and ceramic colleague the pattern-making and surface texture reaches a level of creativity and maturity that is indescribable.  It has evolved with the construction of each pot and firing experience for many years – from a career in the making to a living national treasure of the highest order.

Such craftspeople strive to push the creative envelope within very narrow boundaries of creative expression – margin for error is not part of their vocabulary. This is a conscious decision when it comes to all finely crafted and mastered artisans’ work.  The level of complexity in the design for manufacture all comes together from one exhibition to the next. Maintaining these skills and level of perfection is what separates and singles out craftspeople like Ian Garrett from the rest. One never gets bored of these finely crafted ceramic works. Every time you see a new batch of work it exceeds expectations. Unlike us, mere mortals, the work improves with age – the skin is more refined and the patterns even more complex and fresh and refined to a degree of complexity that leaves you breathless.

The bowl I bought for my collection. A beauty what!
The balance between the polished, burnished and textured surface patterns has become even more refined. This is achieved by the complex patternmaking applied by the artist. He twists the shapes and textures around the pot in serpentine like fashion. I first encountered this term when I saw the work of Antonia Canova, an Italian Mannerist sculptor (image on the left). You could only appreciate the true artistry of the sculptor when you viewed it from all sides (360 degrees) – the sculpted bodies’ coil in snake like fashion.

In his latest works Ian has perfected every aspect of his crafted pots – even the way the burnished surfaces reflect the gallery light. The reflections add another creative dimension to his work – the highly burnished surfaces reflect the space in which the work is exhibited. This is contained to the burnished shapes on the pot and contrasts sharply with the complex textured patterns, incised into the surface. The masterly crafted and textured incisions added a tactile quality to the finely crafted pots and bowls.
Ian exhibited his latest work at the Kim Sacks Gallery titled, The earth is watching us.
” Still, the dark red, orange, umber, or mineral landscape stretches before us like the foreshadowing of a vision. The burnished terracotta of the pots reflects the light. The texture of each vessel’s surface is equal to our own. For the earth is watching us….the hands that moulded it have left their Imprints.” Words by Nimrod Lian.   
He exhibited his work alongside the one-of-a-kind ceramics of Christina Bryer (image above) and vessels and bracelets woven in copper, silver and brass. These masterly crafted works are produced by craftspeople associated with Threads of Africa.

It is a great pity that such exhibitions are only given two weeks to generate interest and inspire the local art and craft community to attract the crowds. This was truly a not to be missed exhibition. All the work showcased master craftspeople at work at an international level.
All photographs by the blogger.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

International Ceramic Awards Exhibitions 2014 Deadlines.

Ceramics Design Gold Award, Yuichi Yanai.
Crater Dish.
Ceramics Festival 2012 Mino, Japan.
2014 could be a make or break year for many ambitious ceramists. I refer specifically to those ceramic artists, potters and sculptors who have set their sights on launching their international careers.  These ceramists are frantically working in their studios, firing their piece and or pieces to meet the fast approaching deadline dates for the scheduled international ceramic award events. 
Ceramic Design, Bronze Award, Kyungmin Lee
Motion Series.
Ceramics Festival 2012 Mino, Japan
They include the curated exhibition, the 2014 Taiwan Ceramic Biennale and two international competitions, the 2014 Westerwaldpreis in Europe and the International Ceramics Festival’ 2014 Mino, in Japan. These events are well established on the International ceramic awards calendar and many clay artists are aspiring to get their work selected and their country represented.
Grand Prix Award, Masato Komal.
Ceramics Festival 2012 Mino, Japan
A number of ceramists have been planning for these events months and even a year or two in advance, to ensure their work is ready to be photographed whilst working on updating their CVs. This is all part of the ritual of completing the entry forms for their online submissions to meet the requirements of the intense competition selection processes. One normally reads the criteria a number of times to ensure you don’t miss out on valuable information that could lead to an automatic disqualification – not meeting the criteria for the now rather outdated competition categories. For a number of young and upcoming artists their hopes are firmly focused on getting their work selected. 

Ceramic Design, Silver Award, Takashi Nakamura
Ceramics Festival 2012, Mino, Japan.
Then there are those established ceramists that have been working for most of their lives. They have been submitting their  work for all three of the major international ceramic events. They are a cut above the rest and have their sights set much higher – hoping to win one of the coveted awards and or be adjudicated the overall winner.
Ceramic Arts, Gold Award, Eri Dewa.
Ceramic Festival 2012. Mino, Japan.

Their winning ceramic piece could be a life changing experience.  It will catapult them and their latest creative output into international ceramic stardom. The grand prize and numerous merit awards (some of which are featured here) are coveted the world over, especially in the major ceramic centres of excellence including Asia, Europe, England and America. Asia in particular has for centuries invested heavily in the development of the craft, art and design clay products. 
Ceramic Arts Bronze Award, Ayako Sakuragi
Utsuwa no naka no mizu
Ceramics Festival, 2012. Mino Japan.
Special Judges Award. Thomas Hoadley
Ceramics Festival, 2012, Mino. Japan
Stone reflecting the
 clays available in Japan
They have major museums and collections that inform their creative output in various forms and shapes, including ceramic techniques and methods. The institutions of teaching and learning associated with these centres of excellence must really be feeling the pressure to produce winners. Enormous resources are invested in the ceramic sector in those countries with perfect incubator facilities to cultivate the next generation of ceramic artists, craftspeople and designers. They have access to amazing raw materials, the latest technology and reference
material to produce cutting edge ceramic statements and contribute to their country’s cultural heritage. 

International Ceramics festival' 14 Mino, Japan.
First on the list of scheduled ceramic events for 2014 is the deadline date for the International Ceramics Festival’ 14 Mino, Japan. There is no specified theme for the competition. However the application form, under the Theme states, that entries should go beyond traditional concepts in a way that is imaginative and inspired – one that opens the door to the future of ceramics.

Application period Friday, Nov, 2013 – Friday Jan10, 2014.
The deadline date is 5pm on January 10th, 2014 Japan time.

The criteria - follow the link.
Website - follow the link.

There are two categories;

Ceramic Design

Ceramic designs created for planned production, repeated production (including functional pieces produced by hand or in small quantities).

Ceramic Arts
Ceramic pieces that incorporate creative ideas and techniques.

Pieces must be new creations that have not been exhibited before. (see below for details)
Entries may not have been produced for the market as of the date that the organizers announce the results of the final stage. Entries may not have been previously exhibited in any newspaper, magazine, event, website, or the like. Pieces that have been made public in order to secure intellectual property rights are exempt from this restriction.

The venue - building and ceramic park.
The Ceramic Park MINO was built in harmony with the folds of the Azuma town mountains. It was designed by a world renowned architect, Mr. Arata Isozaki, and was opened in 2002 as a complex building for industry and culture with a ceramics theme. 
The Museum of Modern Ceramic Art is located in above featured building and is focused on the theme of contemporary ceramic art. It is the only museum in Japan that collects contemporary works from around the world.

Westerwaldpreis, organized by the Keramikmuseum in Hohr-Hrenzhausen.
Shortly after the deadline date for submissions for the Mino is the submission date for the European German based Westerwaldpreis, organized by the Keramikmuseum in Hohr-Hrenzhausen.

The Deadline date for submission of applications including photographs is 19 January 2014.
Competition information - follow the link.

Awards focus and criteria.
In 2014, five prizes are to be awarded for outstanding ceramic work in the following areas:

  • Saltglaze: stoneware and porcelain: The Hohr-Grenzhausen Municipal Prize.
  • Design /serially produced ware
  • Vessel/ Form/ Décor
  • Sculpture / installation
  • Talent Award (up to the age of 35 – b. 1978) (applicable for all the above categories)
Museum - follow the link.

2014 Ceramic Taiwan Ceramics Biennale (follow link to previous blog post)
Then there is the 2014 Taiwan Ceramics Biennale, a curated exhibition by the award winning curator Wendy Gers. The competition alternates between a crafted ceramics awards exhibition and a curatorial proposal competition, as explained in a previous blog post - follow link. Numerous ceramists’ work was incorporated into her winning project proposal titled "Ceramics Now: Art, Design & Digital Materiality."

The winner of the grand prize of the 2012 Taiwan Ceramics Biennale for crafted works was Johnson Tsang. (images above, left and below)Follow the link to view the work.