Just a quick update
I have been in Dunedin three days in a row at the exhibition, and have spent several hours working on the wheel on each of those days. The response from the public has been good, with little crowds forming around me at times each day, and quite a refreshing level of interest. I am delighted to see the curiosity that people have over the glazes. Wood fired pottery is something of a novelty here now. I don't know of any other potters around this area that do it, and so many people have not seen shino glazes that have a luster from the wood ash on them. Also, as most potters are firing in electric kilns, most people have not seen reduction fired copper reds.
The Number One Question
The most frequently asked question is, "Where do you get your clay from?" There is a temptation (when feeling mischievous, or weary) to say that we farm it in special enclosures, or formulate it from the dust of semi precious stones to an old family recipe... but I always answer truthfully, and respect the fact that someone has "taken the plunge" and asked a question. I let them know that it comes from Southern Clays Ltd, which is a Dunedin firm, who prepare potter's clays and do use some local materials in their clay bodies.
Supporting Your Area
I do like the thought of using our local firm, and of using local materials where possible. It seems a shame, that in this global village, that an increasing number of potters are entirely reliant on materials from outside their region, or from the other side of the world. For some materials this is, of course, necessary, but for the basic clay that the pot is made of, isn't it good to be able to use something closer to home? As an Otago potter, I like to think that someone is taking a piece of Otago New Zealand home with them when they buy my work.
The Call of the Wild!
I have at times lusted for clays from other localities that seem to promise easier throwing characteristics or yield a different colour or firing range, but I always keep coming back to something that Shoji Hamada said about using his local Mashiko clay which had a justifiable reputation for being "difficult". That it was "better to make a good pot from bad clay". I don't mean to imply that our local clay is bad clay, I actually like it a lot, but it does have its own open sandy character, that helps it sit up quite well on the wheel and dry fast on the drying rack, but this sandiness does limit its plasticity, and I have found it more difficult to throw really thinly than some other finer grained clays. So I try to make work that suits the clay, and try to develop a technique to make the best of it.
The exhibition will be packed away tomorrow afternoon. I have probably sold about 26 pieces so far, or about $1500 worth, which is a good effort for this time of the year. Lots better than staying home and forming a foetal position whilst waiting for the weather to warm up! Items with copper red glazes seem to be some of the most popular, but I have sold a smattering of other glaze types too. Obviously I have a large stock of pots that remained unsold, but that will be good for replenishing my shelves at the Dunedin Stuart Street Potter's Co-operative, and also at the delightful Gallery On Blueskin, who kindly sponsored the exhibition at the Community Gallery.
It has been most instructive seeing just how much more can be sold at a location where there is reasonable foot traffic, and seeing the positive contribution that working in public can make to people's enjoyment of an exhibition. Well worth doing more of.
We Did Get in the Paper, Which was Nice!
Disturbing Rumor and a Rant
There is a disturbing rumor afoot that the Dunedin City Council intend to "relocate" the Community Gallery to another site, as some City Councillors resent the fact that the current location is on a "prime commercial site". I am also to understand that, in the mean time, the charges for using the Community Gallery, are due to rise steeply. I find it fascinating that a council can bask in the reflected glory of the achievements of the city artists, and happily knee cap them with this sort of treatment.
Daft Big Projects...
Meanwhile our council seems intent on building an enormous monument to the god of sport, in the form of a hugely expensive stadium which is approaching NZ $200 million (in time for the 2011 Rugby World Cup).
And they have just completed a monument to the god of commerce, in the form of the, our American readers will love this, the Wall Street Mall!!!! (Yes the DCC really have spent around NZ $35 million on building a shopping Mall that they have named "Wall Street"!!).
Wait, there may be more!
The Council also wanted to spend a truck load of money on itself, in the form of town hall extensions, and the Regional Council wanted a new NZ$35 million building down near the proposed expensive redevelopment of the wharf area, where we are led to believe we will be better off having yet more cafes, boutique bars, and apartments, in place of the "dirty", blue collar engineering, and shipping type businesses that are currently there. There have been some hiccups in getting started on those as yet, but....
"I Am Dunedin" and "It's All Right Here!"
Dunedin has also spent dollops of money on self promotion and getting catchy ditties to reinvigorate its image. I Am Dunedin I think is the current one, although I have lived here long enough to get confused, as there have been others!
Here is some of the marketing speak, it is for an old timer like me, actually quite funny in its way,
The DCC believes that “I am Dunedin” will continue to be successful and effective due to its innovative flair and the originality of branding a city and positively changing perceptions. The brand has no barriers, is therefore sustainable, and can be developed into a multitude of campaigns that are timely and relevant to the City of Dunedin’s future promotional and communication needs.
The population of Dunedin is approximately 120,000, and much of it poor. Our sewage still ends up in the sea, all be it from a longer pipe...., we really need all this "visionary spending" don't we!