Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Triennale thoughts

A conference virgin, I had little idea what five days at the Australian Ceramics Triennale held in store. I have to admit I was apprehensive - would time be spent discussing the ‘plight of today’s craftspeople’? Thankfully, this was not the case. Instead I was inspired, educated and heartened by the optimistic approaches and philosophies discussed.

Cell Block, NAS Sydney 2009

Personally, what struck a chord were discussions regarding craft and industry. With many craftspeople now going “off-shore” to have work produced and ceramic departments in educational institutions increasingly being incorporated into other departments of art and design, this is an essential debate. The lack of a clear definition of the term ‘industry’ sometimes resulted in less than clear panel discussions (It can just mean hard work can’t it?) but I appreciated that, on the whole, industry was not portrayed as the enemy but rather something with which the hand crafted object can coexist and even incorporate.

Kim Dickey seemed all for allowing different practices to coexist without any sense of hierarchy. She came down rather heavily (and justifiably so) on a delegate who posed a question regarding “art versus craft”. Taking offense to the word ‘versus’, she proposed we firstly change our use of language to move beyond this tired debate suggesting we “ use the words both/and rather than either/or”.

Kim Dickey, Pomegranate Shrub, 2007

Marek Cecula utilises industrial processes to ‘subvert industry’. To quote from his website, he aims “to inject randomness into standard manufacture production” in order to break down established values. “The imperfections and deformation are intentional values, bringing the formal esthetic content under scrutiny to provoke and undermine our established esthetic value... to open a process that affects the condition in which we formulate our perceptions on beauty of the domestic ceramic object.”

Marek Cecula, Beauty of Imperfection, 2006

I am particularly taken with this concept and purely by choosing to ‘make by hand’ feel it applies to my own work – all be it more a matchstick in the machinations than a spanner in the works. I believe we have nothing to fear in regard to movement away from traditional crafts. I have great admiration and find much inspiration in the products of industry but I, like many others, prefer my tools, my wheel and my hands.

To paraphrase Takeshi Yasuda - if we don’t touch we go mad.

Takeshi Yasuda, 2009

1 comment:

Studio Terrafemina said...

Thank you for taking the time to write about your conference experience.
I go with two things firmly imbedded in my mind;
Interchanable words Craft & Art I was doing that already just didn't feel too supported in the idea, til now.
I must touch or I will go mad.
Yup Yup Thank you.
I am going to finish putting the little barnacles on my Sea Bowls now.
Bye Bye from Vancouver Island