Saturday, April 10, 2010

340 grams

The Australian Ceramics Association recently challenged it's members to create a bowl or sculpture using 340 grams of clay, this being the weight of the association's publication The Journal of Australian Ceramics. The resulting works will be exhibited at the Masonic Hall in Gulgong during Clay Energy, 28 April to 2 May 2010.

I do love parameters - no matter how flimsy the premise, the idea of working within established boundaries is appealing. I guess it narrows the field of focus and can help cut through the waffle.

A few of the forms in my production range are made from 350g of clay - beakers, small dishes and saucers - so for me this was not an unfamiliar lump of clay. But rather than fall into the tried and true, this was a good opportunity to explore my relationship with the throwing process by putting myself a little outside my comfort zone.

I've been playing with coloured clay of late so decided to combine pure Southern Ice porcelain with Southern Ice stained grey. To avoid marbling the colours I joined the two together with one slap, patted the lump firmly in place on the wheel and basically threw without centering.

In the telling this sounds a little lazy but to a control freak like myself it was quite a creative challenge. There is a difference in consistency between the stained and pure clay body and I had to ignore my desire to refine the form. If I continued to throw the piece the colours would blend. A very strict lesson in immediacy and precision!

I quite like the results. They are a little bit wobbly and I am slowly learning to accept that in my work.

I was asked the other day if I thought myself a perfectionist. Not an accusation, on this occassion, but the term does seems to hold negative connotations. In truth, I think I aim for perfection but don't get upset in not achieving it. I'd be pretty miserable if I did!! Does that make me a perfectionist? My dictionary states that perfectionism is "the uncompromising pursuit of excellence". Hmm, compromise is the tricky bit.

The growing awareness of beauty in imperfections is really a wonderful thing but it would be a shame to overlook the importance of technical merit in craft practice and the desire to work to the best of our abilities.

What's the term for 'the compromised pursuit of excellence' I wonder?


andrew widdis said...


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