Friday, April 22, 2011

Phil Elson

You may have noticed the name Phil Elson one or two times before on this blog. I really like his work.  

And recently I have had the good fortune to get to know the man himself a little. What a nice person.

I mention this because last week he was a focus of my ceramic attention, in the form of a trip to the Castlemaine Art Gallery to view his current exhibition and a one day master class at Northcote Pottery.

It was most fortuitous to firstly see the completed works and then listen and watch their creator discuss and demonstrate his inspirations and processes.

I got a little snap happy so I think two separate posts are in order. First the master class, although I attended this after seeing the exhibition. I’m overlooking chronology in favour of illustrating the order of creation – it’s all about the process with me.

So, to highlights from the workshop..

Phil began by sharing stories of his residency in Barcelona a few years ago which has been highly influential on his work and then showed this gentle video, put together by his son Jim, of him at work in his Castlemaine studio...

  And then to the practical...

Throwing noodles bowls with precision. 

There is a name for this measuring device which unfortunately escapes me at this moment in time but as the photo illustrates the diameter and height of the bowl is predetermined and the weighed clay is thrown to measure enabling repeat ware. 

I enjoyed Phil's comment that although the same amount of clay and the exact same measure, one days throwing of noodle bowls can still result in slightly different forms than those thrown another day. Thank goodness!  

Phil finishes the shaping of larger bowls with a beautiful river stone.

No pressure!

An intriguing element to his process was the right-side-up turning. Using a little water and the tap centre technique he attaches a bowl to the wheel head and cleans the surface of the interior with a tool before upending the piece to turn the foot.

I really like his "whatever works for you" philosophy.

There was much discussion of tools, techniques and tips with an enthusiastic and informed audience that made for an entertaining and relaxed day. 

Enjoyment all round l I think.

1 comment:

Lori Buff said...

I love the idea of using river rocks for ribs. What a brilliant way of getting your own unique shape and still having it feel natural.