Tuesday, May 29, 2018

We are close to the Moon. A Teapot and Vase. Landfall Exhibition. A Painting by Laura and a Vessel for 50 Percent Pure Water!

In the midst of a delightful conversation with friends, I once proposed (mostly in jest) that the world is not flat as some still believe, but funnel shaped. We begin our lives on the outer edge of a funnel that is turning at one revolution per year, then we slowly spiral inward as the years go by until we make our final exit down the narrow tube in the centre. This explains why the years seem so long as children, but increasingly short as we age! Months later I was very amused to see black holes in space described by clever scientists as funnel shaped. Their diagram looked just like the funnel I envisioned for our world!

I did once work with someone who claimed that the earth was flat and that the moon had never, and could never, be landed on. Maybe he was right, as the photo I took a few evenings ago (and the camera never lies!) shows a moon that is much smaller than I ever thought it was, and lots closer. The lovely yellow crescent shape is sailing through the sky at about 90 feet altitude, just in front of a poplar tree! I have not altered the photo in any way.

 A Teapot and Vase.
I have been hibernating a bit and have not been producing a lot of pottery, however I did glaze a few things and put them through the electric kiln recently. One of the unfired teapots that I gave you a glimpse of in my previous post was in the firing, and I was rather pleased with the result. I used an iron red glaze, and applied a little ash glaze over the top to make things more lively.

The porcelain teapot holds 4 and a half standard cups, or three mugs, of tea and pours really well.
A porcelain vase that I used the same glaze combination on, also turned out well. The ash glaze has given a mirror finish to the top half of the vase, and the glaze looks like it is still wet and flowing.

Landfall Exhibition 25 May to 17 June 2018. Otago Art Society First floor Dunedin Railway Station.
Laura and I both made some work for a group exhibition that is currently on at the Otago Art Society (in the Dunedin Railway Station building). The exhibition is a celebration of the Landfall literary journal that is published by Otago University Press. Landfall has been part of Dunedin's cultural life for a good number of years now. Recently the first issues of Landfall, from 1947 to 1966 were digitized, and this exhibition is to celebrate this. Artists who were interested in taking part in the exhibition were each given an old copy of Landfall, and were asked to make a work that was inspired by something in the journal - maybe a poem, a story, or even an advert.

Laura made a lovely painting, it is acrylic on MDF board. She was inspired by a poem called ‘The Wind Through The World, A Canticle for Carabas’, by Alistair Paterson (Landfall 110, June 1974, pages 140 – 141).

Laura wrote, "The opening line 'I am listening to the wind that blows through the world,' fired my imagination with thoughts of the wind as a truly wild and free spirit, that gusted through ancient times and lands, as it does now and will do in times yet to come. A force to be feared, as one longs for it’s sometimes devastating effects to cease, yet also revered for it’s powerful and mystical qualities. As sailors and travelers well know it exerts a siren call to go with it and roam the world. Thoughts of ancient maps that attempt to show a way to navigate this world of the heavens, land and seas, and the mythical beasties found there form my response to this piece of poetry."

Whilst Laura was happily producing the painting, things were not going so well in the potting department! I had difficulty getting inspired. I really wanted to do something for the exhibition, but the poems, stories, and reviews in the copy of Landfall that I had, mostly gave me ideas that suited painting rather than potting. However, I finally found what I needed in "History of Water", a poem by Gary Langford (Landfall 121, March 1977, page 28).

The history of humanity’s use of water walks hand in hand with the history of pottery. Pottery vessels were made to carry, store and keep cool water to drink. The poem speaks of water that was walked on, sailed over, sold, traded, and finally used up. Published in 1977, this poem could have been written today. It is humorous, but has a real bite. I loved the line,

‘People sold water as being fifty per cent pure,
provided it was kept for no more than a week
& shaken twice daily.’

The sad reality that we are starting to face here in New Zealand, is of polluted rivers, dying lakes, and a sea that is troubled by toxic algae to the extent that our "100 percent pure" brand is, even as I write, being reworked by marketing people into something "more appropriate for NZ in the 21st century"!

I carved some words from the poem into the water vessel that I made, and darkened them with copper carbonate. A clear glaze went over everything, and I wanted the purity of the porcelain to be a bit "polluted" by the words leaking green copper, in rather the way that old copper toilet cisterns were tarnished by verdigris.


It has been ages since I last put out a blog post, but I have been delighted to still receive occasional emails and comments from people wanting help with solving glazing problems. It is a pleasure to help where I can.

Kind Thoughts to You.


Linda Starr said...

love the photo of the moon; congrats on your group exhibition; Laura has such a great imagination I love this piece of hers, your last pot at first glance I thought it was an antique pot and was surprised to learn it was yours; you achieved the look of old porcelain, it is very interesting to examine its shape, glaze, and meaning; hope you both have a great show

Anna said...

Laura has a great imagination and a talented way of expressing it.
Your pot is very appropriate and what a sad reflection that we are not doing any better with our water reserves than in 1970.

gz said...

it is sad to see the effects of 1080..

Peter said...

Hi Linda,
Good to hear from you. It is nice when the moon does magic! Happy to report that the pot has sold and I have commissions for 2 more similar ones. I hope Laura's painting finds a home somewhere as it is a lovely one that will bring someone a lot of joy I think.

Hi Anna,
It was fun to see what Laura did with the poem, she has a very original way of painting and it is always lovely for me that we can work together in the same studio.

Sadly we are starting to discover the real cost of exploiting the land and water!

Hi Gwynneth,
1080 is a real dilemma, as is the control of out of control populations of introduced animal pests. In the 1980s I was saddened to witness a forest grow rather quiet after a 1080 drop, where formally it had been noisy with Kaka. I'm happy to read that the same forest currently has a much larger population of Kokako then at the time I knew it. So there are winners and losers with any intervention. There is something really horrific about resorting to chemical warfare for the control of our fellow introduced mammals, be they rats, mice, stoats, possums and so on, the current alternatives are trapping, shooting, or introducing viruses (as was done with rabbits). I believe there has been some thought given to genetic engineering too.
No easy fix unfortunately.

Michèle Hastings said...

I agree with you about life being like a cone shape. The days and weeks sure do fly by quickly as we age!
Wonderful job with your poem interpretation. You definitely nailed it.