Way Outback: Chasing the Light

After a late afternoon bike ride across the plains I climbed up one side of the valley to catch the sunset. Resting on a rock outcropping I witnessed a sky full of color chase the light over this ridge. With the day receding whisps of orange, pink and purple clouds emerged from the twilight followed by a quarter moon. It was the kind of beauty that made me laugh out loud. I kept asking myself "Is this real?"

I've been in Ernabella for three weeks with one more to go. I've been working long days in the studio fueled by the camaraderie and excitement of my collaborators. I love the look on my Anangu friends faces when they have freshly trimmed platters to decorate. I will post images of their decorations soon but for now I'll let the landscape do the talking.

Click here to see my time lapse video of the sunset, I can see the Earth move.

Way Outback chronicles my time in the remote outback town of Ernabella, South Australia. I am spending a month here collaborating with aboriginal artists. For more information on the project you can visit the Kickstarter page that helped fund this project by clicking here.

Click below to read the other posts from the series
Way Outback: The Road to Ernabella
Way Outback: Night Writing
Way Outback: Chasing the Light
Way Outback: A Story for the Eyes
Way Outback: Animal Kingdom
Way Outback: Paint, Money, and Land
Way Outback: The Red Walls of Uluru


Workshop at the Canberra Potters Society- May 12th & 13th

I'm looking forward to seeing the Aussie capital in a few weeks. I'll be in Canberra at the Potter's Society for a two day workshop Saturday the 12th & Sunday the 13th of May. I'll be demonstrating soft throwing, altering, working with foam slump molds, slip decorating and a few other tricks I have up my sleeve. I'll also be lecturing on my time in China and hopefully showing images from the project I'm currently working on in Ernabella.

I've been offered about a thousand cups of tea in the last two weeks so I know Ill be making teapots and other tea related items during the workshop. It's nice to be in a culture that appreciates a good cup of tea and by that I mean an actual full cup of tea. Chinese cups for green tea are so small that they feel like a kid's tea set at times. I just started two teapots for the Ernabella guys to decorate. I'm interested to see what direction they will take with the forms. I'm hoping to see a kangaroo or two jumping across the forms in the next week or so. 

For more information on the workshop or to register you can visit their website by click here. You can also call 6241 1670.


Last day to submit for Lark Books 500 teapots- Just do it!

Today is the last postmark day to submit for Lark Books 500 teapot book. I just sent mine off at the last minute so I thought I would send out a reminder. The teapot above is one that I'm pulling off the digital shelf for the application. I'm not currently making this style but seeing this image makes me want to revisit it in the studio.

500 Teapots ad image
Lark is seeking images to publish in a juried collection of ceramic teapots publishing in August 2013. The juror for 500 Teapots will be Jim Lawton of Oyster Street Pottery.  Pieces may be functional or purely decorative. You may submit up to four entries; there is no entry fee.
Artists will receive full acknowledgment within the book, a complimentary copy, and discounts on the purchase of additional books. Artists retain copyright of their work.
Entries must be postmarked by April 20, 2012.
Mail materials to:
Lark Crafts
67 Broadway
Asheville, NC  28801
Attn: Dawn Dillingham
We look forward to your submission!


Way Outback: Night Writing

After years of the starless Shanghai night sky I am grateful for the impossible closeness of the South Australian stars. They are dense and bright like diamond dust thrown over black velvet. At times they seem more like the street lights of a distant neighborhood than celestial bodies.

I spent one clear night in the front yard using the moon to make these images. I opened my camera shudder and drew the image with the fixed light of the moon. This trip has been about observation and experimentation. I have the luxury of time and very little distraction. My days are filled with studio time and my nights with writing. I've used them both to take a deeper look at story telling in this small community.

Next week I'll start posting an account of the hunting trip I took this weekend. The Anangu men I was with tracked the Ngintaka (lizard) and chased the Malu (Kangaroo) with expert skill. In an afternoon we had enough food for ourselves and three other families. It was a lesson in the reality of hunting as a subsistance lifestyle. I'll be releasing the story in serial format with three parts. It was an amazing day and I'm excited to tell the story.


Way Outback: The Road to Ernabella

Click here to see the video The Road to Ernabella

The drive to Ernabella starts at Uluru, or Ayers rock as the western settlers named it, the ancient rock formation mysteriously present in the dry plains of north western South Australia. The indigenous people of the region have long maintained Uluru as a sacred site. One look towards the rock explains their belief. The formation’s 9 km circumference looms over the horizon giving a focal point to an endless expanse of silver green scrub brush. Although not the tallest formation in the state it is a visual force to be reckoned with. The rock’s weighty mass fills your periphery even when you look at it from a distance.
Within the first few minutes on the road I realize nothing I have seen before could prepare me for where I am going. Our destination is only three hours away but each minute takes us deeper into a world pictures can’t accurately describe. The red dirt of the road forms an almost unnatural contrast with the brilliant blue sky. The colors are the kind you get when you turn up the brightness/contrast on a computer monitor. They remind me that nature already has the patent on 3D technology.
The washboard road knocks the jeep around like a rag doll in a washing machine. Each jolt knocks the Shanghai city life out of my bones. The faster we drive the more the truck finds its footing in the loose soil. As we miraculously top 100 km I feel like I will be propelled out of my seat into the bush itself. Jullian, the driver and co-manager of the arts center, is unfazed by the sudden potholes that have me gripping the side bar. Living in the outback must do that to a person. The unexpected becomes routine and you adjust to the changes without noticing them.
Jullian knew where he was going without road signs or the modern convenience of GPS. As we came to unmarked forks in the road he made decisions based on repetition. In the three years since he and Ruth moved to Ernabella he has made this drive on a monthly, if not bi-weekly basis.  This particular trip was prompted by the Voyages Resort’s weekend market at Ayers Rock.  Although not a huge money maker the market provides a sales opportunity for the art center that is closer than Adelaide, Sydney, or Melbourne. For an isolated aboriginal center selling outside of the community is more convenient for collectors who might not want to make the bumpy drive into the desert.
Throughout the afternoon we see a comical collection of animals running away as we pass. The sound of a truck must be startling in the mostly humanless landscape. Camels brought in decades ago by Afghan traders shake off a dust cloud as they gallop away. The cows we see are remarkably quick and I am impressed with their ability to jump over the scrub brush. The smaller winged animals, owls and hawks, also make an appearance, as well as a dingo, the only outback animal not to travel in packs. Seeing only the back side of a fleeing animal reminds me of the relationship westerners have with this land. When we come everything tries to hide. I hope my experience with the notoriously shy Anangu people doesn’t fit this mold.
As the sun sets Jullian and Ruth’s four year old daughter Beatrix, who somehow has been sleeping through most of our journey, wakes up to yell me stories over the loud rattle of the truck. Her stories about Dora the mermaid make me laugh. She is too young to know the irony of a mermaid story in the middle of the desert. By the time we get to the house we are all hungry and tired from driving. Only a day into my trip and this place has already captured me. If the drive in was this interesting the month I will spend here is sure to be life changing. 


NCECA 2012: Highlights from The Pottery Workshop 25th Anniversary Exhibition

Caroline Cheng

David Furman

Dryden Wells

Fiona Wong

Linda Arbuckle

Peter Beasecker

Pete Pinnell

Sam Chung

Trudy Golley

My Chinese tea set shown as part of the Tea Three Ways series.

A large portion of my trip to Seattle was spent managing an exhibit to celebrate the twenty fifth anniversary of the Pottery Workshop organization. I had a great time meeting people during the exhibit and hearing their China stories. I feel fortunate to be involved in such a vibrant organization. You can view the rest of the images by visiting my Carter Pottery Facebook page. Click here to view the album. We produced a website to let people know more about the artists who participated. Click here to view the site.

Here is the curator's statement that I wrote for the show:

Since 1985 The Pottery Workshop has grown from a small education center in Hong Kong to a multidimensional organization that boasts numerous education centers, galleries, and an international artist residency. This year's NCECA theme "On the Edge" perfectly fits our role as a mediator between eastern and western ceramic worlds. Our residency center helps western artists negotiate Chinese studio methods, while our education centers expose Chinese students to western aesthetics and teaching practices. This intermixing creates a new hybrid of forms and styles.

Our 25th anniversary exhibition highlights the artistic possibilities that can happen at the "edges" of ceramic cultures. Twenty five artists have been chosen to represent the diverse styles, techniques, and processes that have emerged from our growth and artistic interchange. Their work ranges

from intimate vessels, to sculptures, to large scale wall pieces. I would like to thank Wu Hao, Sin-Ying Ho, Richard Notkin, Linda Arbuckle, Trudy Golley, Pete Pinnell, Harris Deller, Vipoo Srivilasa, Steve Lee, David Furman, Sam Chung, Elaine Henry, Fiona Wong, Ying Yueh Chuang, Takeshi Yasuda, Patrick Coughlin, Eric Kao, Dryden Wells, Qi Ming, Gao Yifeng, Jim Connell, Peter Beasecker, Paul Mathieu for participating in the show and for their continued support of The Pottery Workshop. I would especially like to thank our director Caroline Cheng for providing her humor, and vision of what the Pottery Workshop has grown to become.

As The Pottery Workshop moves into a new stage of development I can only hope that the quality of art and friendships that will be created in our next 25 years will be as exciting as our first.


NCECA 2012: Well Served at the Seattle Design Center

Liz Quackenbush - http://lizquackenbush.com/

Ingrid Bathe - http://www.ingridbathe.com

Andy Brayman - http://matterfactory.com/
David Eichelberger - http://www.crimsonlaurelgallery.com/david-eichelberger/

Jennifer Allen - http://www.jenallenceramics.com/

Julia Galloway - http://www.juliagalloway.com/

Mel Griffin - http://melgriffin.com

Michael Kline - http://www.klinepottery.com/

Well Served, an exhibit by Catherine Person Gallery, Seattle. http://www.catherinepersongallery.com/

Like many participants I spent a lot of time looking through the NCECA catalog trying to find shows I wanted to see. In the end I only made it to a handful which made me even more grateful I got to see the dinnerware show Well Served. For the exhibit each artist was given a table to fill with plates, bowls, and other service related forms. The curators Deb Schwartzkopf and Julia Galloway did a great job picking artists that approach dinnerware from different points on the decoration spectrum.

Two of my favorite pieces were from David Eichelberger and Jennifer Allen, who both displayed forms whose novelty was refreshing in the realm of table service. I love how Jennifer made a resting place for the serving spoon on the side of her bowl. David's three lobed servers where my favorite overall pieces because of their strong rims and dramatic curves. As always Julia Galloway and Michael Kline showed amazing work that highlighted their mastery of soda glaze decoration.

Many of the artist's sets worked better as a unit while others showed their strength at the individual level. Ingrid Bathe's beautifully crafted pinch pots formed a complete set that was unified by color and technique. On the other hand Liz Quackenbush had a table of pots that crossed the spectrum of color, surface, and form. Another stimulating contrast was the difference between Andy Brayman's crisp aesthetic and the hand quality of Mel Griffin's painted earthenware. Seeing these contrasts made the show a valuable learning experience. I wish my classes could see the show so they could understand the variety of solutions potter's come up with for serving food. In total the show served as a contemporary survey of the American approach to dinnerware.

The shots above are a few of my favorites. To see the complete album you can visit my Carter Pottery Facebook page by clicking here.