Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Thinking and Dreaming

Ginger was a great help packing the exhibition. He is seen here with a radio controlled model of a 1935 Flying Flea (Pou-du-Ciel) hanging above him. The model is 1/5th scale, and works well. I built it after reading a book about how to build a "real" one by Henri Mignet, the designer.

"Thinking and Dreaming" a little video showing some of my work from the last few days.

If there was a building project to be done, a wall to knock down, or a studio to reorganise, it always seemed to happen in the week following putting on an exhibition. Maybe the swing and crunch of a sledge hammer, and the rasping of a saw had therapeutic value, nature's way of preventing a tide of gloom. Such projects did not occur this time, I was just too tired!

After many exhibitions as a painter, and now as a potter, I have not developed a particularly thick skin, but I do cope with openings, and try to just get on with things if sales are slow. I have never had the pleasure of a "sell out" exhibition, such things are very, very unlikely in this part of the world, there are just not the numbers of buying public out there to allow such things to occur, except rarely.

At an exhibition, my first target is to sell... something.... After that is met, I hope to cover the costs of the opening, and advertising, and any gallery charges. If, oh joy, we get past that stage, then there is a slow accumulation of sales that reward the gallery's efforts for running the exhibition through their commission, and start to recoup my production costs, of clay, glaze materials, and firings. A really good exhibition will manage to do all those things and.... provide some money for food and a roof over the head as well!

The exhibition at Gallery on Blueskin is probably getting into the food and roof over the head territory now, and I am very thankful for friends who have bought work and supported us, and to others that I know less well, or not at all, that have fallen in love with a pot at the exhibition and have purchased it.

We were most fortunate to have a review in the Otago Daily Times. The fact that the ODT sent someone over the hill to review an exhibition at Waitati, North of the City, was really appreciated, as I know that it was a busy time for exhibitions in Dunedin when my one was on. It was so busy, in fact, that the Arts reviews by James Dignan for Thursday, 15 April, started with these words, "Dunedin has temporarily become the centre of New Zealand's ceramics world..."

The NZ Society of Potters National exhibition was on at the Otago Museum. An exhibition of Japanese potter, Takeshi Yasuda, was on at the Brett McDowell Gallery, and then there was my exhibition also. A lot of potters were in Dunedin over that period. We were fortunate to have a visit from a few of them at our studio here too. A van load of delightful potters from Tokoroa called one morning, and others from Christchurch and North of Wellington followed.

I have been trying to make new work. I want to keep the momentum going if I can, and do some more of the crystal glazed pots. I have ideas about pots in my mind that I am trying to bring to life. It is a difficult process. I am quite limited as a thrower on the wheel, and have to keep on learning the skills that will help me make the forms that I sometimes catch a glimpse of in my mind. I am tired also, so that makes learning harder. I suppose that we have are own way of developing new work. Some people would sketch out ideas on paper, others would write notes. I probably should do some drawing, and do occasionally, but there is a risk that the drawing becomes the end product, rather than all the energy going into the pot!

I don't know about you, but I sometimes "see" a pot, or part of one in my mind. It may just be the curve of the shoulder of the pot, or something about the texture of the surface. It is a tantalizing thing, as there is just enough of a glimpse to give something to work towards, but the work still has to be done, and it is all too easy to lose that first "vision" whilst grappling with technical difficulties.

It is a fascinating process though, and was much the same for me when I was painting too.
If I was sensible, I should really design a standard range of coffee cups and breakfast bowls, and make a few hundred of them (I do intend to do just that), but I do have something in me that calls me towards giving a physical form to those as yet unmade pots that I almost can see!

On 3rd March, which feels like a life time ago, my blogger friend Angie of Shozzy's Place,
kindly nominated me for a Kreative Blogger award. I really appreciated her doing so, but have been too preoccupied... and "unKreative", to do much about it. One difficulty with it was that the award required me to find 7 interesting things about myself. To be honest..I haven't been feeling all that "interesting"!

Anyway, here goes...

1) I may be loosing my hair and taking longer to stand up after sitting for a while, but I enjoy learning new things, and questioning old ones!

2) I try to earn a living by the work of my hands.

3) As a teenager I had 25 hours worth of flying lessons, and there was a risk, for a while..., that I would get my pilot's licence before my driving licence.

4) When I was a painter, I painted on location... outside, sometimes in "all weathers".. I painted watercolours when it was snowing (nice sky effects), when it was freezing (crystals formed in the painting of the sky), when it was windy (I have been known to chase a painting that had taken flight up a hill), and when it was raining hard (this was oil painting on one of those camping trips... where it rains all the time and you go slightly mad and do all the things that you intended to do on the trip anyway!).

5) I have responded to middle age...., by throwing myself into potting!

6) I am not a great cook, but I do make food that is mostly edible, and is often sustaining.... I do make good "hedge hog" potatoes, and can make sponge cakes.

7) I can use a band saw and a sewing machine.. My philosophy is that if you can use one of those, you can also use the other!

I would like to award this Kreative award to many, many other bloggers, and feel bad missing out some that I hold most dear! But.... the rules say I'm to award these to 7... so here goes! I know that all of you are busy people, and you may not find time to accept the award and pass it on, but, do please enjoy the nomination at least, as a token of my appreciation for the inspiration and help that your blog has given me.

If you wish to accept the award, please copy the award picture off here, nominate 7 other bloggs that you like, let them know that you have, provide links to their sites, and list 7 interesting things about yourself!

Barnbarroch Pottery Always worth a visit. I admire both the standard pottery range, and also the more sculptural one off work where Christine works miracles with extruded clay from her pugmill!

Rodger's Transplant Diary A brave, moving, helpful, life affirming, and sometimes humorous account of having a bone marrow transplant, and what follows next.

ang design blog I really enjoy visiting here and seeing what Ang is up to. Fun, and thoughtful. Nice use of technology here too.

Le blog de Armelle Life on a Beautiful Island off the coast of France. Lovely poetic use of photography and language. Interesting information about the history of the Island. Armelle paints, writes, and makes pots.

mudheart pottery About as far to the North of Australia that you could go. Beautiful photos of a lovely place, and lovely pottery with a real feeling for having its heart and soul in the local environment.

Tracey Broome A great person, and wonderful potter. I am a frequent visitor here!

Sofia's Dad's Pots This is a special place, Jim writes so well of his life as a potter and as a dad. Jim also writes superbly about childhood. It is a great pleasure to drop by here.

Must Dash and do some work....!
Best Wishes to you All!


Angie said...

So glad you had time to do the award yout 7 things ...especially 3 and 4.

Loved that unusual bowl inspired by waves and shells ....hope you manage to finish it to your or ocean colours ...or a mix ... would work well on it.I so love the shape ...striking centre piece on a table

I am so glad your sales took you into the last bracket... next step make a profit lol

Peter said...

Thanks Angie,
It's been fun sorting out the award, and thank you for it, sorry it took such a long time after you nominated me!

I will do my best to finish the bowl.. If all else fails with it, I will have another go as I may be able to do all that needs to be done to it in the right order the second time around!

It is great that I have made reasonable sales in this exhibition. Things are quite "slow" here mostly, so a good result like this is extra good!

I hope you get some sleep tonight (your time...!), I thought I was putting my blog together near the middle of your night!

Best Wishes, P.

Linda Starr said...

Hi Peter, so glad to hear your show is going well and the sales too. ginger is so cute sitting there and that plane is really something. I have given you an award on my blog too but don't feel too obligated to comply as I know you are busy. I too see pots in my head, sometimes they turn out like my vision and other times not. I sometimes draw them out and other times I just start in. I'm out of clay right now so they are all in my head for now. take it easy and don't wear yourself out. Back to see the video later.

Linda Starr said...

I absolutely love your video, very well done Peter.

For the wavy bowl, try a piece of thick dense sponge placed on top of something sturdy, weighty and tall enough to raise the bowl up off the rim (like canned goods) turn the bowl over and place carefully on top of sponge to finish off the bottom of the bowl, careful the bowl doesn't slip to one side or the other and tip off (which has happened to me and I ruined the piece). I usually place the bowl on the sponge and then take it off and check to be sure the inside of the bowl isn't getting any depressions from the sponge and canned goods before I proceed with the bottom surface.

I love the very deep bowl too, that shape is very nice.

Tracey Broome said...

Thanks so much for the nomination!! You are so very kind. I will have to come back to this when I get back home. I am getting ready for a four day show/camping/music festival and a bit bonkers right now! I'll have to think about those nominations.....

Peter said...

Hi Linda,
Lovely to hear from you (and thanks for the award nomination too). Thanks for the "thick dense sponge" idea, it sounds worth a try. I will have a chat to Ginger and see if he would lend me a can or two of his Gourmet catfood to prop everything up on!! If he doesn't co-operate, I have a little plant pot that just might do the job.

Hi Tracey,
Good to hear from you. I like the sound of the festival that you are off to, I'm sure you'll have a really great time there!

Kitty Shepherd said...

Super post Peter and I love your film, what software are you using to splice it up? I have started to make a few films but they won’t transfer as my memory card is not fast enough. Soon though I promise I will post a film.

My idea for the wave pot is to carve out that unaltered section, right down to the foot, then whittle away the clay that you would remove with turning by hand, use a loop turning tool bringing in more ripples like the ones you see on a low tide in the sand. As soon as the bowl stops being a bowl you will know where to go with it. I would give it a completely smooth round bottom (like mine) so that it rocks on the surface.

Peter said...

Hi Kitty,
Lovely to hear from you.

I departed from Windows several years back and have run my computer on a Linux system ever since. PCLinuxOS is the linux operating system that I use now, and really like. The video software that I use is called Kdenlive, and is free open source software, but may only be for Linux??

I really like Linux systems (and enjoy trying them out). I also applaud the whole idea of open source software. From a money point of view, I have really good programmes to do my work with, and they are free! From a creative point of view, it is so nice to be able to be using something where people share ideas and skills.

Operating Systems like PCLinuxOS are really easy to install and to use, and are very secure against viruses and the like.

Anyone that is interested can try out PCLinuxOS by downloading it and making a live CD that you just pop into your CD or DVD drive. Just visit for further details. It is a great way of trying out Linux without actually installing it on your computer.

Regarding the bowl, thanks for your advice with that, I'll have a play tomorrow, and see what I can do. The clay is rather hard now..., but there is always a hammer and chisel (joking..!). I may still have a go at a second attempt.

Regarding smooth round bottoms, there is a lot to be said for them!! I like the idea of a rocking bowl. I once made a small stone sculpture that was designed to wobble gently, and it is rather fun.

Best Wishes, P.

Anonymous said...

hi peter, thanks so much for including me in the list of kreativ bloggers. i flattered that you thought of me. i hate to say it, but i have already been nominated and have accepted the same award quite a while back but it is so nice to have been nominated again by you. thanks peter. i am very interested in how to cook hedge hog potatoes... sounds good.

Armelle said...

Great post Peter,

I am very happy that the food and the roof were provided, good exhibition !!!

Good thinking and dreaming too, really you are right when some image of a creation appear inside, in the innerworld, it's so and the video shows that well : I like the idea, between the maelstrom of the wheel and travel in the tunnel, it's very cinematic. Thank you to provide a captioning.

Really very touched and pleased to be nominated, when my english will be better, I will accept the challenge, so now..........hum !!!

Best wishes

Peter said...

Hi Jim,
It is the thought that counts anyway with these things, the "thought" in this case being a very big Thank You for your wonderful blog, that brings a great deal of happiness to a lot of readers!

"Hedge Hog" potatoes...., I think I should do a mini post with a photo of this... fear not, no prickly animals are harmed in the making of it!!!

Hi Armelle,
Thank you for your thoughts about the video, you have certainly understood what I was trying to do there about thinking and dreaming. I hope that the captioning was of help for you with understanding my strange English accent! (Sadly, French subtitles were beyond my skills!!!).

Your written English is really very good now, you have progressed in "leaps and bounds" I would say! (I wish that were the case with my attempts to learn French!).

I am glad that you were pleased to be nominated though, it is a way for me to say thank you, and for other people to see your lovely blog site too.

Bonne journée! à plus!

Linda Starr said...

Hi Peter, scroll down to the middle of this post and you will see what I mean about the foam and turning the bowl upside down, hope this helps. Of course, you would need a larger piece of foam and a taller can or weighted cylinter to balance the foam upon. good luck to you.

Pat - Arkansas said...

Hello, Peter. I much enjoyed your short video (loved the tunnel and train inserts) and do dearly love that beautiful wavy bowl! I hope you will be successful in finishing it to your satisfaction -- without a hammer and chisel. I see "sea" in it, even without a glaze.
Wishing you and Laura a pleasant weekend.

Peter said...

Thanks for the information Linda, goodness... I am going to have to do something about that bowl now, no excuses!

Hello Pat,
Glad you enjoyed the video with its train inserts. I must write something about the train journey where I took those photos too. A lovely trip we made recently between here and Dunedin. Mmmm, that bowl!! We shall have to see! I certainly will have a go at another if all else fails, as the rolled rim and other wave-like forms were interesting.

Hope you have a good weekend too, and that you are keeping well.