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The end/ the beginning

December 18, 2011

Technically, today is the last day of residency at Sturt. People keep asking me if I’ve had a good time here, if it’s been worth it. I always reply that I need time to reflect and digest. Which is true, I do. I’ve met some great people and seen some cool things (thanks to those great people) and made some work. But like everything, it wasn’t all roses. But it was mostly great.
The powers that be were very kind to let me stay an extra couple of days, giving me some extra time to get organized and see some more things. So many things to see. I just can’t fit it all in. On Tuesday, I will head for the Blue Mountains, just outside of Sydney, to do some hiking and chilling out. I’m looking forward to getting moving, heading north, finding some real heat. Hopefully, I will be better at photographing and posting for the rest of journey.
Anyway, here are a few pics from the last kiln load.

Sturt – most recent

November 24, 2011

Hmmm… what to say. Self explanatory, I hope.

Sturt music (Triple J)

November 24, 2011

I’m editing some images as we speak, so will probably follow this post with a post of some new work. Music is such an integral part of my studio practice. Here are 4 songs that will always remind me of working here at Sturt and listening to Triple J, the indie radio station in Australia.

Lana Del Ray – Videogames

Alpine – Hands

Gotye – Somebody That I Used to Know

Foster the People – Pumped Up Kicks

for now…

November 2, 2011


I really wish I had access to a scanner here. To make a few more posts a little more interesting. But I don’t.

I went to see the Fred Williams retrospective at the National Gallery in Canberra on Sunday. It was so beautiful. His landscapes, the colours, the movement. I’m so glad I got to see it in person before it closes this week. The photos don’t do it justice at all, but here are a couple of examples of his work.

On friday, I will load a bisque kiln and on Tuesday, a glaze. The gallery here has given me a deadline, so I will try to meet that. It does mean that next time I’ll have pics of new work. But for now, I wil leave you with a quote from Sergei Isupov in an essay in The Penland Book of Ceramics.

“Art builds me; I don’t build art. I see that each work is a small world, yet once it’s done, it’s over. My relationship with it is over, and I start a new work. I have a relationship with the work only in the process, which is made up of so many logical steps. So this is the truth: in building work, it’s a small world. In life, it’s the same thing, only over a longer period of time. And being in the studio is like being God. All artists are egocentric, because you yourself are the artist, the director, the worker – everything. Maybe this is not something that is popular to say, yet it is my privilege to see the world this way.”

cone 6 oxidation test tiles round 1


some nice cups from the wood kiln

bicyicle trip commemorated

mountain lovers



and a few not so nice things. karen says i need to grow a new aesthetic. a wood fired aesthetic. i say too much brown. though i do like the orange blushing.

city scape

i went to sydney…

October 20, 2011

so, the weather is finally nice enough to be outside and wonder around and wear shorts and sandals. i went in to Sydney the other day and hit up The Art Gallery of NSW, The Powerhouse Museum to see the Love Lace exhibit, which was magical, and the opening of 10 Girls.10 Colours. an exhibition of contemporary jewellery and objects put on by tenmoregirls at the Sallerno Gallery in Glebe. I did a lot of walking and took lots of inside pictures, but not really any outside pictures, so I’ll do that on my next excursion.

The work that I got out of the wood fire kiln was so-so. A few nice cups. Today, I will open up the test kiln to stare at the 1st batch of glaze tests I’ve done. Over 60 tiles to gawk at this round. Anyway, here are some faves from the Love Lace show.

                                                                  Lenka Suchanek are we made of lace? bobbin lace using enamelled copper wire on acrylic panels

Marita Macklin aspergillus free motion machine embroidery, bush dye and hand embroidery on a variety of materials

Shona Wilson heirloom natural found materials ( bones, seeds, sticks) and found plastic

Masashi Tsukada wrapping stone ground glass fragments wrapped in braiding

Jane Theau marraine's memories tarlatan fabric, ink, wire, machine sewn cotton thread

Jenny Pollack a brief history of time hand cut archival paper, office paper

Helen Pynor untitled (uterus urinary) hand knit human hair

Waltraud Janzen tree hand and machine embroidery using nylon net and polyester thread

Karen Richards secret forrest machine lace set and animation

Michelle Eastwood shadows of memory close-knit calico laser cut into silhouettes

Alice Vokac first day wonder bobbin lace in cotton and silk threads

Andrea Eimke third space II bark cloth (tapa), cotton gauze, interfacing, soluble stabilizer

Alice Vokac first day wonder bobbin lace in cotton and silk threads

Andrea Eimke third space II bark cloth (tapa), cotton gauze, interfacing, soluble stabilizer



” Are you the Canuck?”

September 19, 2011

Here I am, at Sturt, finally. It’s beautiful here. And so far, everyone is super wonderful. I started making some new templates for bowls today, though, in my jetlagged haze, I didn’t last long in the studio. But I did wander around the village of Mittagong for a while. And I accomplished figuring out how to get money out of my Canadian bank account and finding an adapter for the plug for my computer, two very important things. But tomorrow I will get to serious work in the studio with Karen, who’s a total riot. She’ll be firing a two chamber wood kiln is a couple weeks, so I’ve got to get things ready for that. The guys in the wood studio are gonna make some pizzas in the outdoor pizza oven, she says.A 40ish hour firing. It should be a pretty good time.

This morning, there were these beautiful parrots just outside my room. Scarlet and blue. David told me what they were called, but now I forget. He’s teaching a class in the woodworking area. I share a kitchen/ living room with he and his partner, H, and they’re both really lovely and have been super helpful already.

Sturt has beautiful gardens all around, so it smells great.David and H have been telling me about the possums and wambats and kangaroos, things I haven’t seen yet, but hope to run into.  I’ll start posting pictures soon. Once I’ve got my body back on some kind of routine. It’s an early morning tomorrow so that Karen can give me a rundown of the gas kiln. It’s only 9 o’clock, but it’s definitely time for bed.

rresearching galleries, i stumbled across this.

Bridget and I are working on gallery proposals for a show. It’s interesting communicating through blog posts and cell phone conversations. I guess that’s what normal people do everyday. Anyway, here’s a look at what we’ve got so far. We’ll be looking for third parties to read it and do some editing and constructive criticism soon, so if you’re willing, let me know.

The Proposal

Notes of what a proposal should explain….

1. what is the project?  2. why this project? 3. why this exhibition? How? 4. What it means to others?

Alana’s edit of Bridget’s editing of Alana’s Edit of Bridget’s most recent posting.

Shit. I forgot to copy and paste so the last one that you did is now lost. No biggie? Big Biggie? 

 It’s looking pretty damn good.  Did a bit more tweaking. Now have we filled all the criteria above? Kind of, but not explicitly. I say we do one more edit and have other people give it a read. So this sucker can be whatever length we like now.

Working together in a communal space is both challenging and inspiring but what happens when you collaborate yet are each in isolation? Alana Wilson and Bridget Fairbank met whilst whittling away at plaster in the cold studios of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design ceramics department in winter of 2009. Since then they have corroborated (i’m not sure this is the right word, but … what else? A shared experience…?) as fire tower observers in Alberta, a seasonal job which holds them in solitude and isolates them in the wild.

Solitude- a state or situation of being alone.
Isolate- to be or remain apart from others.
Solitude and isolation both occur either physically or cognitively. In both cases it is our sentiments and psyche that are effected. Solitude tends to amplify our thoughts and can foster great growth. In this time of narrowing frontiers and ever expanding modes of transport and communication, physical isolation is rare but an isolation constructed by society is becoming more and more common. With the past exodus from farm to city, anonymity is more prevalent than ever in history. Often, we isolate ourselves by way of routine or cultural faux-pas. Bridget and Alana tell a story of a physical isolation akin to that of the pioneers before us and the emotional isolation felt by most in modernity. Their isolation has resulted in the contemplation of self, of society, of what solitude means, of how it functions and of how it effects us all. By being physically isolated, the two grapple with cultural solitude through individual artistic explorations. The Isolation Project exhibits each artist’s manifestation of solitude and in turn invites the viewer to acknowledge their personal story of isolation and solitude.

Alana Wilson’s inspiration for this work began with the work of artists such as Margaret Kilgallen and Barry McGee, the availability of materials in a remote situation, and the idea of attempting to capture her scattered thoughts in an esthetically pleasing way. For her, the fire tower season is always a time of deep personal contemplation and questioning. Her contribution to The Isolation Project is a look at some of the ideas and pressures she ruminates on and feels as an isolated female in her early thirties. Even in this post-feminist era where establishing a career for herself is important, she still feels a societal and parental pressure to settle down and have babies, and often questions her desire to do, or not do, so. This has become a seemingly more common place perspective  in a time when more women are remaining independent for a longer period of time, and attempting to find strength and fulfillment in themselves.

A constant struggle has presented itself in her choices and dualities such as Career vs. Family and  Love vs. Ambition are manifested in words and phrases like IndependenceFollow your heartFreedom; and Selfish. These examples and many others are then  embroidered and presented in frames, clustered together on the wall in no particular order, a visual representation of the way thoughts and ideas can come and go during time spent thinking alone in the forest or walking the streets of a city. Embroidery was chosen due to its portable nature and lightweight materials. The fact that embroidery was traditionally done  by school age girls and unmarried women has also been something that Alana could identify with. The act of embroidering in itself provides time for reflection and contemplation on the story she is creating. She often feels that though solitude is necessary for growth and should be taken seriously and even cherished, perhaps the most human desire is to have someone bear witness to our lives and tell our story. The Isolation Project is an illustration of this concept.

Bridget Fairbank’s inspiration came as she traveled across Canada collecting plates and contemplating time. She regarded the extensive highway lines thinking of the solitary summer regimented by routine that lay ahead as a fire tower observer. What would happen if the rhythm in which the day occurred was represented by space and line?

Time never passes at an uniform pace. Each interval of action is different. When a collection of lines is made the thickness, the uniformity and the space between each line all speak to us visually as a concept of speed and pace. By making lines in overglaze pigments fired onto those found side plates from her journey, a plate for each day of isolation at tower, the juice and anxiety, the calm and serenity, the business and revelry of daily time is thus visually communicated. Why make lines on plates? The varied forms and surfaces of pre-owned dishes as an ensemble create a complex narrative. Through the recording of Bridget’s daily routines the existing imagery is slashed and distorted, eluding to the forgotten story of the day, the week, the decade and the place in which the plates were once relevant cared for dishes. The collection represents the blatantly varied nature of Canadian culture. By altering each dish Bridget’s personal tale of daily isolation by way of routine is imposed upon each plate: a metaphor for the individual’s daily chaotic and isolated contribution in our multifaceted culture. Her project is a celebration of everyday solitary experience in a Canadian context. When presented on the wall in calendar format the rhetoric of four months alone in the forest with one’s thoughts is indicated by space and line, evoking emotion and sparking contemplation of one’s individual life in relation to daily routine, time and culture.

The Isolation Project is a recording of two lives spent in the seclusion of  the Canadian wilderness and the urban environment. Whether experienced physically or emotionally, isolation is felt by everyone at one time or another during this busy modern existence. The Isolation Project exemplifies that though solitude and seclusion can be a reprieve from ordinary life, it is seldom a reprieve from oneself.