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8th national ceramic conference, australia

updated wed 31 jul 96


Leonard Smith on thu 11 jul 96

Well I have returned in one piece from a very involving conference. As
usual it is the people who I remember most and the exhibitions (their
pots). There were the following Americans: Ronald Stien - Michigan, Monica
Mitchell - Kentucky, Kevin Hughes - Indianna, Fred Olsen - , John Chalk -
Canada as well as an Asian contingent and many from Great Britain, Finland,
Turky, Isreal, Norway, The Chech Republic, Fiji, PNG and of course New
Zealand. So it could be truely said that I made some International
Connections. There were some clayarters there maily from NZ and Australia
and the session on the Internet, Clayart and the WWW that Tony, I and
others gave was well attended and appreciated.

There were lots of workshops post and pre conference and during the
conference there were non stop demonstration of making, decorationg,
techniques and technology, materials and equipment, something not to be
missed. Unfortunately there was so much happening that it was hard not to
miss somethings. I did catch Susan Petersen's talk and it was very well
presented which alas was not always the case. I swear I will scream if I
see another out of focus or under exposed slide. But I guess thats my beef.

There were also 26 individual and group exhibitions and I just couldn't get
to see them all. I curated a show of the work of 7 members of the Potters'
Society of Australia at Solander, a major commercial gallery, so someone
else will need to say aomething about that, but most memorable were the new
work of Sandra Taylor at Chapman Gallery, exploring the house as a
metaphore for midlife chrisis in relationships, Bev Hog's humourous work
about female domesticity and its frustrations, combining everyday kitchen
objects with female figures. The Australian Woodfire show at Strathnairne
was combined with woodfiring workshops and the building of Fred Olsen's
singing kiln. The show itself proved to me the stenghth of woodfiring in
this country and the incredable diversity of its practitioners. Sure there
was the usual Japanese anagama influenced work, but even much of this has
now surpased the purely derivative. I was knocked over by a pair of basket
weave wall pieces created by Melina Monks from coils and the work of Ian
Jones also stood out. The Vessel show at the Australian National Uni was
fairly good but as a survey it was fairly predictable with all the 'names'
being represented with work that was very familiar. Not enough surprises
for me. Probably the most talked about pots, and for that matter
presentation, was those of Bob Connery from Nothern NSW. Bob had some of
the most beautiful arabian wood reduced lustres I've yet seen and he openly
gave his receipes and techniques away at his talk.

This has been just a taste of 5 days filled with experiences which for me
finished a little to soon. The major complaint was that there wasn't enough
social events and that is being addressed by the organisers of the next
conference to be held in Perth, Western Australia in 1999. I for one can't
wait to visit that far off place, the world's most isolated city.

I almost forgot the most memorable event was the telling of the tale of a
sawdust firing that went wrong by Gillian Treichel from Western Australia.
It had everyone there splitting their slides with laughter and to my mind
you can never get enough of that. We all nominated her as the Keynote
speaker for the next conference.

Best wishes

Leonard Smith ARCADIA STUDIOS Email:

10 Marrakesh Place
Arcadia, 2159, NSW, Australia. Phone + 61 2 653 2507