An abstract painting of mine is probably winging its way over the Tasman Sea to Australia as I write this. The egg tempera painting, which measures about 600 x 400mm, was done in 1995, and I called it "Meeting in Paradise". I have never been too good with titles, but I was thinking of such things when I was doing the painting, and the little fish, who are gently touching noses, are in some way representing our reuniting with friends and family in a heavenly realm. Of course, there is no way of depicting what such a meeting would really be like, or what it would look like, but in 15th Century Florence, artist Cennino d'Andrea Cennini, wrote that the job of a painter was to "discover things not seen, hiding themselves under the shadow of natural objects, and to fix them with the hand, presenting to plain sight what does not actually exist." Which is a marvelous thought. I hope that Tim, who bought the painting, really enjoys it. He, and his family, are lovely people.
Ginger is making himself very much at home, he is not our cat, but.... He, war wounded, can easily convince us that he needs a lot of love and attention, even if it makes having a cup of coffee an impossible task!
A Spider's web for Jewels.
I took this photo of a spider and its web and nest when I was out walking recently. I was most impressed with the way it was constructed, and marveled at the many hours of toil that must have gone into the making of such a structure. Jewels put such an interesting post on her blog about spiders that thought I would put this photo of a New Zealand Spider on mine for her. The spider is just visible slightly to the left of the mid point of this photo, right on the edge of its nest...honestly, it is! Sorry the photo is not perfectly sharp, I do all my photography using a 2001 vintage Kodak DC3400 digital camera with 2 megapixels of brain, and a 3 times zoom. The Kodak and I find such subjects rather challenging!
Artist's statements and biographies.
When asked for an exhibition statement, one artist I know of just puts his signature onto an otherwise blank piece of paper, and leaves it like that. The man tells us, by saying nothing at all, "Let the work speak!" I think gallery directors like it when he does that (he is famous for it after all), but it would be a problem for them if all exhibitors did the same. Imagine an exhibition these days without lots of written stuff accompanying it. The gallery would look naked! The public might be embarrassed with nothing to read! What ever next!
I will shortly be sending some pots to an exhibition and have been asked for a couple of paragraphs to go on display. One paragraph about me, and one about my work. As I am constantly developing what I think about it all, nailing something down in text tends to make my thinking seem more "straight laced" than it really is. Sometimes I wish we could say at least half a dozen things at once to be able to let people know the "roundness" of our thinking process, and not just the straight line part. You see, I have sympathy with those who make nonfunctional ceramics, as well as with those who make mugs and teapots, and I don't firmly push myself into either camp or really see why they should exclude each other.
Anyway, I have written the following. I wonder, if you were asked to write something about your art and yourself, in about 2 paragraphs, what you would have to say? (I cheated and went to 3!).
About pots, my pots, and me. by Peter Gregory.
Once upon a time, potters were useful people, almost indispensable. The role was simple and honest, people needed storage containers, cooking pots, mugs to drink out of, plates and bowls to serve food on, and the potter met that need. The forms that the potter made were handed on from generation to generation, and refinements came to make the objects more useful. With the rise of mass production, plaster, plastics, and art schools, potters have largely been swept aside by “ceramicists” or “artists” with degrees, and those of us who choose to make pots that are capable of holding water, tea, or pickled onions, are now the eccentric marginalized individuals, who do something weird that society as a whole rarely values or wants.
Mostly I make pots on a kick wheel. I do make decorative and some sculptural pots, but there is also satisfaction to be had in making jugs and mugs, and pots for tea; and there is beauty to be found in a pot used for cooking, or a jug, or a mug. It is a beauty that is based on being fit for humanity. A jug that pours. A handle that is comfortable to hold. A teapot that is well balanced. It is the same beauty that is found in words such as “caring”, “sustaining”, and “providing”. Like a drawing, the pot can have a springy or adventurous line. Like a painting, the clay can be worked with a vigorous touch, or one that is gentle and understated. Pots also share other human qualities. The pot has a foot, a belly, a neck, and a lip. It still feels worthwhile to actually make such things.
I was a painter from age 15 until I was 45. I am now 50, and for the last 5 years potting has been my main focus and occupation. I have a wood fired kiln that I built, and a second hand electric kiln. When I can, I like to fire with wood. Wood firing is exhausting, challenging, and endlessly fascinating. I live and work with Laura, my wife, in the Waikouaiti Old Post Office. We open our studio to the public on the first weekend of each month. Laura paints and I pot.