WHY CLAY? WHY POTS? WHY GARDENS?
|COLORED SLIPWARE WITH FEATHERING|
― Winston S. Churchill
London is all built on top of a huge seam of earthenware clay. It, and other clays like it. became the primary toys of my early childhood, along with massive amounts of shrapnel, the metallic remains of exploded bombs and shot down bombers. Bombing went on for several years. Starting at three years old, I think I did my part in frustrating the Fuehrer by using the clay and shrapnel to make art. By the end of the war, I was seven years old, and had developed good clayworking skills that led to a lifelong career. The moral of the story is never miss out on free materials!
|COLORED AND LAMINATED CLAYS FOR AGATE WARE|
Clay is the most amazing natural material that develops from the extensive decomposition of feldspathic rock. It is basically a combination silica and alumina. Depending on what other minerals the clay associates with during its formation will determine the type of clay that will be formed. It can go from the purest of white kaolin to highly plastic ball clay to gritty stonewares and sagger clays that might fire anywhere from red to almost black. Clay is used for many purposes, ceramics being just one small part. Most of the worlds surface, to a depth of approximately 4 miles is primarily comprised of clay. It is forming at a faster rate than it is being used up. There is a clay for use in just about any way that you can use clay. They can easily be blended for more specialized uses.
|SEA SHELLS WITH PATTERNS LIKE AGATEWARE OR NERIAGE PORCELAIN|
Working with clay is hard work, for sure, but I can't imagine a more pleasurable way to make one's living for a lifetime. I really loved teaching, but the administrivia of academe took most of the pleasure out of it for me. Realizing that I could do as well in a productive studio and selling all my own work from my own gallery allowed a better income than teaching could give me, so that is what I did. I was very lucky to get a set of tools that both allowed and encouraged an offshoot as a writer and video teacher, so my income derives from various sources. When one is put in jeopardy by changes in the economy, I can make another more active. I have been very fortunate in my choices and directions.
|BISQUE FIRED PORCELAIN PITCHERS|
It seems like a purely natural act to manipulate clay into vessels for use or contemplation. It has been done much the same way for eons of time by almost all cultures of the world, except under arctic and highly humid jungle conditions. The global range of forms and uses defy the imagination. The hardening of clay by firing most likely goes back some 30,000 years in time. It feels very good to be part of an art form with such longevity. It has been the largest segment of my life for seventy years now.
|HUMMINGBIRD PLATE 1 - PORCELAIN WITH SANDBLASTED IMAGE AND BONEFUMING.|
|TREES WITH FORMS LIKE WATERFALLS|
Gardens have always been a major part of my life since I bought my first house at the age of twenty-one. I was successfully working backstage in theatre as a technician. With a strong Union I was doing very well financially. At that time, small, older houses were very affordable, even in London. It was at my first house that I started to learn about plants and designing and building gardens. Every time I sold a house to move on, I traded up and each time had a larger garden to contend with and enjoy. With my first wife and family, I decided to emigrate to Canada, and started to learn a whole new garden language because of the vastly different climate patterns. Southern Vancouver Island has a climate similar to the South East part of England but warmer. It turned out to be perfect for me. I was lucky enough to find a small farm with outbuildings for the house and studio and sufficient land to develop the sort of garden that I always wanted. I had truly "Died and gone to heaven". After 35 years here in a Maritime Mediterranean climate, I feel that I have achieved all that I hoped for in life. I live in Paradise, surrounded by awe inspiring beauty, both natural and manmade. It is a constant source of material and ideas do the work that I always hoped for. The garden is like a bird sanctuary because of the combination of indigenous plants and exotics selected for berry, seed and nut production to feed the amazing birds that come in. That also informs my art work in several ways, particularly with ducks, herons. kingfishers, other waterbirds, hawks, eagles, hummingbirds, finches and several varieties of woodpecker. It is always a hive of activity. Altogether it is some of my favorite subject matter, as well as an ongoing visual treat virtually every day. If that doesn't build a huge inventory of ideas for potential artwork, I don't know what will. It always amazes me that so many people walk through the garden and then ask me where I get my ideas from. Am I crazy? There is so much beauty in one plant. With a whole garden full, it is "EYE CANDY" and "BRAIN FOOD" for months on end, and repeating with changes every year. Nature is the prime source of visual ideas for the majority of artists, no matter what the medium of expression.
|TOP POND AND STONE BRIDGE|
My next posting will be on Friday, 11th May, 2012.