Monday, October 29, 2007
When I arrived I looked to see if my friend Bob Rose had picked up his artists name card, but it still sat on the table unclaimed so I figured that he must still be in Koi Samui, Thailand where he currently lives. On entering the show Sandy Besser was welcoming the artists, I turned around momentarily and Bob Rose and his friend Pascal were walking towards me. It was amazing, Bob introduced us to Sandy Besser and then we went around the show. Bob has two pieces in the show. The one being featured in the press release is The Bali Tea Pot. Hap Sakwa the best 3D art photographer I know was also there, he had a beautiful wooden teapot in the show. I also bumped into my old neighbours Ron & Diane and Linda Fitzgibbon another wonderful ceramic artist who will be showing at the Pence Gallery 2008. If you love ceramics or just a good cup of tea you must go and see this show.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Today Alex, Caitlin & I went to the opening of All Fired Up, we were late to the award ceremony because we'd been to see Body Works 2 at the San Jose Tech museum. It was amazing and fascinating so it took me well over 2 hours to get through the exhibit.
All Fired Up will be up until Feb 28th 2008 and is housed opposite the Triton Museum in Santa Clara throughout the Civic Center corridors. They produced a nice full colour catalogue featuring all of the pieces and where they are located in the exhibition. I was pleasantly surprised to receive an award and check for my piece Tin Hau. We stopped at Stanford on the way home to see the mural that Kirsty designed and is now painting.
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Craft - a refuge for artists who play it safe
I see the craft world as a kind of lagoon and the art world in general as the ocean. Some artists shelter in this lagoon, because their imagination isn’t robust enough to go out into the wider sea. Although there are some very good things being made, the craft world at the moment is set up to preserve something that can’t look after itself.
Perhaps our modern western emphasis on the individual has distorted our idea of the crafts. People want a direct contact with the maker, want something that hasn’t got the impersonal perfection of the manufactured. Often what we call character or spirit in an object, especially a functional one, are basically mistakes. I’ve recently had a Saville Row suit made, and what sets it apart are the things you might call mistakes. It is softer round the edges.
And yet, the traditional craft areas have dried up. The last bastions of handmade work - Saville Row tailoring, high end car manufacture and bespoke furniture - are disappearing because they are so expensive and the mass-produced is so good in some fields. There’s no need for humble tableware or woven hand-made rugs: there’s always a manufactured design alternative. The handmade has become an expensive indulgence.
But craft isn’t just a synonym for the hand-made. It is about technical skill but there must be a good idea guiding it, either traditional or innovative. I love craft objects to look at, but for me the best thing is a combination of its meaning, its beauty and its craftsmanship. It is all these things combined that make art exciting.
The essential distinction between art and craft is that art has an emphasis on feelings and ideas and the crafts have an emphasis on technique. I always give things the Antiques Roadshow test: would an object be interesting if it came up on the programme? Can I imagine a Sarah Lucas tin can cropping up on Antiques Roadshow and us looking at it in awe? It has to have something of quality about it, either the craftsmanship or rigorous ideas or strong feelings. My least favourite outcome is the beautifully crafted ugly thing.
But the history of the handmade is littered with some very profound objects, and what is beautiful about them is that this profundity is not as self-conscious as a lot of contemporary art. When people ask me who inspires me, who my favourite artist is, I say it is an anonymous artist working before 1800- ancient antique ceramics, prints, embroidery, folk art. Great craft objects once seemed to have sprung out of the culture spontaneously, to have been refined by tradition.
Craft has lost its way and become precious; self-consciousness is one of its great cankers. Sometimes there are peevish voices in the craft world demanding respect from the contemporary art world. It is a bit like an Englishman in France shouting in English. If you want to be accepted in the contemporary art world, you have to accept its culture and speak its language. I see the craft world as the pretentious next-door neighbour. It is failed ambition: you either are an artist or you aren’t. Don’t train yourself as a crafts person, exhibit in the crafts world and then complain.
One of the major difficulties crafts people face today is a definition of what they do. Nowadays craft overlaps with design and contemporary arts, and there is little territory that is actually crafts. Are websites crafted? Is craft making a TV programme, or writing an article? They all have a craft aspect. To call something craft is just to say it is physical. But craft is a hot word in the art world at the moment, because people are tired of conceptual art where the ideas aren’t even that good, ideas that wouldn’t stand up outside the flimsy theatre of the gallery. Once people saw art as a career, it attracted a lot of chancers. A lot of painting I see would probably qualify as craft.
Although I use the emotional and intellectual framework of a craft medium, as a potter, I see myself as an artist, not as part of the crafts movement. Pottery is older than painting, with just as venerable a history, but if you look at the big prices in auction houses, if that is any measure of worth, paintings get the big sums. The crafts have an audience of people who make crafts, in the same way as the theatre has an audience of out-of-work actors. There aren’t any superstar crafts people, any Sam Taylor- Woods. And there aren’t the high-profile collectors in the world of crafts. The craft world has become a refuge for the
less challenging artists.
Grayson Perry is the 2003 winner of the British Turner prize for contemporary fine art. He is the first potter to win this prestigious award.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
There is nothing quite like that first glimpse of your pieces after a successful glaze firing. Earlier this week my friend Icka kindly put a couple of my ceramic pieces into her overglaze kiln firing. I had already glazed the work a rich honey yellow colour , but I felt that the pieces needed a little something more, so I painted 14 carat gold onto the sprigged designs. Today she brought the bra and knickers to the studio and the results were fantastic. It set my mind in fast speed motion as all the "What if " ideas came rushing into my head. I have already designed a whole new bikini wardrobe and my mind is still reeling. As for my "Cod Pieces" well boys just you wait.
Wednesday, October 17, 2007
Other than that I am still working on my web site. Its taking a little longer than expected cos when I think I have my colour scheme and font choices etc all chosen then you can bet your bottom dollar that someone will say something that makes me try an alternative design. I've done 3 already and now I'm just going to finish it before I show it again.
I spent the morning glazing my new altar girls for the upcoming Celebration of Crafts Women Show. I love this Kitchen God series as it is pulling up so many old memories of my amazing childhood growing up in Hong Kong.
I lived in this house "Island House" in Tai Po as a kid, it is now owned by the World Wildlife Fund. My Dad put in the swing and our sulphur crested cockatoo used to sit in that now huge tree. On the left is the garage/boat house. In those days the island causeway (you can see under the high rises) was where all the junks moored and there were no concrete blocks of flats. We would walk along the causeway to get to Tai Po market. The cause way was used for drying fish. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Island_House . After typhoons we would go down to the beach around the house and find prehistoric axe and arrow heads, washed up sea snakes and huge horseshoe crabs. Since my dad first discovered these ancient tools the island has become an archaeological site. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuen_Chau_Tsai
Thursday, October 4, 2007
Here's my Arabian Emerald Bikini-Lingerie followed by Burgundy Blossom Bikini-Lingerie. Both are life size, if you're like Twiggy or one of the current super models. But I have been making a few larger sizes too.
Last week I also started on my Cod Piece Collection for all those guys who fancy something totally different. I'll keep you posted as the first ones come hot out the kiln!
Must go as its "Boogie By The Bay" this weekend and I have to make sausage rolls to keep my dancers happy.