Artist reflections of work
Art had always been a major influence in my life with it’s conception dating back to my early school days.
In 1966, I started my apprenticeship in the metal industry as a boilermaker/fabricator which I completed in 1970. I eventually left that field of work and in 1976 commence teaching. My teaching profession spanned more than 30 years.
In 2002 I retired from full time teaching. The following year I returned to teaching and have done so for approximately 8 years.
My inventive arts were based on painting and then through various mediums including photography, printmaking and sculpture.
Since then I have established myself as a full time ceramic artist.
The conception of the Bronze Enclosed forms has its origins closely linked to the Enclosed ceramic forms.
My past has been well established in the metal industry which dates back some 40 years.
In 1972 I had a fortuitous meeting with a well known ceramicist (Kyoshi Ino) that encounter changed the course of my artistic profession. From that time, ceramics were to play a pivotal role in my professional career as an artist.
The creation of the Enclosed Bronze form can be directly linked to my ceramic forms.
I see the evolution from clay to bronze as an integral transition. My relationship with the metal industry is well known and I feel that the broadening into bronze was the culmination of all the mediums available to me as an artist.
For me the Bronze Enclosed form is the final journey, a journey which has its affinity to my trade background. As an artist I see the link between clay and metal intertwined to my past and more importantly to the future.
The final chapter in this unique journey is the bronze casting of the Mechanical form in 2010.
The Bronze Enclosed is one of three (1-3) to be cast by the well established Coates & Wood in Collingwood and was specifically commissioned for Arts Melbourne 2009.
My signature mark is embossed on the bottom and is the same mark is used to identify my ceramic pieces.
The studio was constructed in 1985 and to be moderately sized, it would allow for a kiln and other equipment needed to operate. With the studio completed and funds exhausted it was difficult to construct the kilns. In its place a small raku kiln was used for several more years to allow me to continue.
In 1995 I traveled to Japan with Kyoshi Ino, and stayed at his family home. We visited galleries and studios in and around Kyoto and introduced to various well known ceramics artist. Although I had successfully achieved and developed pieces which were very creative, I decided that several years of Raku firing had severed its purpose and returned to throwing utilitarian wear.
I started to experiment with various forms and techniques to focus on stoneware firings. I studied my past work for inspiration and focused on the work influenced by my visit to Japan. It was at this time that the forms (mechanical) started to appear. Crude in form they had the capacity for greater design concepts. Interesting to note that the term mechanical was Ino’s term for expressing his views that my work was unsatisfactory.
My first kiln was completed in 2001 and started firing in the studio. The forms (mechanical) were further refined and they finally started to show a real feeling of completion and satisfaction. Difficulties in completing the forms with the pins and curved form created most of the difficulties. The curved shape on top of the form had proven more difficult and a new way to fire that part needed urgent attention. I finally designed a method that would suspend the curved form between two bricks cut to support kanthal wire.
The pins were glazed permanently to the main body of the pot. These pin were easily broken making the repair on the pot impossible. A simple method of having the pins fired separately and not attached to the main body of the pot allowed for slight movement and could be removed if broken and replaced. Ino’s comments on how mechanical they appeared to him was a fitting name to the form.
In December 2002 I retired and started to design my enclosed forms. They were in part a response to trying to achieve something personal and unique.
Potters in the past have made similar forms with several major differences, they were made solid, low fired or a size that would be easy to fire.
There were considerable difficulties with slumping and cracking. Over several months I designed a method to allow the forms to retain their shape during and after firing. Glazing also (copper red) contributed to difficulties in ensuring that the glaze remained on the form.
Each piece is meticulously designed because of the sections that need to be joined. The Enclosed form when joined requires a small hole to be placed in the bottom to avoid the air trapped inside from expanding or contracting.
Once the form is sufficiently firm enough it is turned on the wheel ensuring that the top section is perfectly flat. When it is completely finished it is covered with plastic and made air tight and allowed to dry for approximately 6 weeks under plastic to control the drying speed. This time period is very important to avoid the Enclosed form from cracking during the drying stage before the first firing.
The first firing is the simplest part of the process, it must be done slowly to avoid the piece cracking or exploding in the kiln. The glaze firing also requires extreme care to avoid the water inside the enclosed form building up to fast and forcing the piece to explode. There is a hole in the bottom of the piece but still requires the work to be fired extremely slowly.