Thursday, September 23, 2010


during a walkabout at clementina van der walt’s recent exhibition in johannesburg, the discussion turned to the role of “studio ceramics” in the 21st century. (she had a post on her blog a while ago in which grayson perry laments the future of ceramics)

when grayson perry received the turner award in 2003, tate director and award judge sir nicholas serota said perry had not won just because he had made ceramics fashionable. "i don't think the choice is a strategic choice, i think the jury felt strongly that these were the works of a very strong artist who happens to be using ceramics and drawing," he said.
although i would not wear it, i have to say, fab dress! the detail and embroidery on his dresses is quite phenomenal. google him and look at some close-up photos (of the pots as well!). . . this dress cost £ 2500.

working in ceramics is hard, possibly insane – how many professions do you know where you set your own work on fire . . . ? it is an important, integrated part of civilized society. the material is versatile and lends itself to a variety of applications. (Utilitarian, architectural, sculptural) can the lack of support and interest in practicing studio ceramics be attributed to one or more of the following? 
~ ceramic roof ornamentation ~
has "studio ceramics" been hijacked by big industry/factories? you can buy a fairly respectable (mass produced), coffee mug at the local store at a fraction of the price of a mug produced by an artist /ceramist
has the work of the “studio potter” generally become so predictable that it has lost its edge/place in contemporary living – often when i am introduced as a ceramist, the question is, “do you make plates and cups and saucers?
~ lemoges porcelain ~
is there sufficient consideration for design and concept in "studio ceramics" when a functional ceramic product is produced?
• does "studio ceramics" suit the function and aesthetic needs of society, today?
it is often considered that an “excellent potter” is someone who can throw and turn well on the wheel. are these not merely the “tools” the thrower has mastered – the same as making beautiful marks with a pencil or the strokes of a paintbrush on canvas? once the technical skill is mastered, the responsibility to create an object is left to ones intellect.
should the assessment of a ceramist's work not consider the conceptual design and integrity of the workin theory an edition of well designed ceramic pieces should be of the same standing as an edition of any fine art work.
it should not be incidental that the artist made use of clay.
or maybe you mother had the most hideous dinner service; a range of vessels and containers from escargot starter bowls – like she ever used these . . . meat, fish and side plates; bowls, serving dishes, espresso cups and the cheese platter! mercifully the avalanche of beige and brown earthenware would, proudly, be taken out for birthdays and christmas, only.

                                 ~ embracing the vessel ~

our prototypes are hand carved in plaster of paris; sometimes modeled in clay. the moulds are made from the proto-type. some moulds are cast from objects; in this case from an actual hand.

~ cast units are manipulated and changed ~

"it is about making people aware
of the potential
for design in ceramics"
it would be interesting to know what you think. please leave your comments . . .


Krystan said...

I really like your work! This may sound lame but it feels like it has some real personality and intensity to it.

Krystan said...

I just spent some time on your blog. I have to be honest, I never looked at it before. I took a ceramics class for half a year in highschool and loved it. I always thought I'd get back to it but.............
So, is any of that/all of that things you have made? I was very intrigued.

Ceramic Matters said...

Thanks. Your comment is not lame! Much appreciated. We enjoy and believe in what we do/make.

Clementina van der Walt said...

Really am inspired by the questions you would be great if we could get some dialogue going on this (if only to convince ourselves that what we are doing has some meaning...)
Please keep on posting, I so enjoy the blog

Ceramic Matters said...

I am concerned for our ‘craft’ and why it is fading away. It would be interesting to know what others think, Clementina.

Ceramic Matters said...

Hi Krystan. Thank you for joining in our conversation. Members,suggestions and comments are always welcome!

Catherine Brennon said...

Thanks for some very valid comments. It gives voice to my thinking while I am making - I sometimes wonder if I am one of the last dinosaurs!!! making ceramics. You guys have proved, beyond measure, that ceramics is about much more than 'cups & saucers' - thanks for the great blog! Cathy

Ceramic Matters said...

Hi Cathy, Thanks for the comments. Great that you stopped by! We all have to keep pushing to keep the “craft” alive . . . and prove that it is more, MUCH MORE . . .