Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Sunday scribblings "Plan B"

Here is my meager contribution to the weekly prompt site Sunday Scribblings.
This weeks prompt is;
"Plan B"
Who has the ooooopmh to be living plan A.
The finance or luck to have their dream.
Just a small percentage of us may?
Those who influence us all,
though we don't see their all
The bad bits and sacrifice to get where they are
In a dog eat Dog world.
I am living plan B.

Yeah I know it does not rhyme. Why should I follow the rules? I have to be different.
Or am I just drifting along and letting it all happen to me, not taking the tiller?

Love Linda.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Peter Beard Workshop. 19th to 23rd September 2011

This post is to record the week long workshop I attended last week at the Australian National University ceramics department.
The first picture above here is part of the results from the workshop.
We were given leather hard clay tiles to experiment with textures pressed into, and scratched into the clay. These ones were mine. The whiter ones have been bisque fired, the middle one is still wet and not fired. They are made out of pb103 white stoneware clay.
The pic above is of our tutor for the week. He is a potter visiting from England. Peter Beard. In this picture he is demonstrating a form he makes from clay slabs, joined, scraped and shaped to make a nautilus shell shaped pot.
Here is my number 7 tile. I liked this one best of the glazed tiles I made. It is first poured with a glossy white stoneware glaze, then brushed lightly with a light manganese wash, see the curved brownish layered brushstroke underneath. Next layer is of 3 different colored earthenware glazes, brushed on. Next layer is black under glaze decoration. Firing temperature was 1280 degrees Celsius.
The pic above is of a tile I was playing with, developing textures. Unfired. The patterns were carved in with a turning tool, pressed in with the sharp end of different paintbrushes and tools, coil added, pressed, or stamped with a plaster cube that we carved into, poked from the other side with the end of a paintbrush and pierced with a needle around it. Fun to do.
It was really lovely to have that time especially allotted to the practice of playing with clay. I haven't really had that since I left Junee and had my own pottery shed, before I moved to Canberra.
By Thursday I was exhausted because I still had to go to my cleaning job when the workshop was finished. It would have been so much easier if the workshop was held next week when the Queanbeyan schools I clean had started their 3rd term school holidays, But... there you go. I wasn't going to miss out on this workshop so I went anyway. It was great fun.
I thought I might be out of my league doing the workshop at the uni, but I didn't feel that when I was there. I got to do a bit of hobnobbing too, because one of Australia's and possibly even the world's top potters was there and I got to spend time around him. Cool. Greg Daley runs the ceramics department at the uni and he also added a few things to our workshop, showing us all what he is doing with glazes at present. He is such a cool guy, and very personable. As was our tutor Peter. A couple of the other participants are ceramic teachers as well. I knew a few of the the other people there, now I know them a bit better.
The next 2 pics are of my slumped shapes before being joined. We cut out shapes, traced them on to strong fruit boxes, cut them out with a Stanley knife, then slumped soft clay over the hole we cut out. Gently pressing the clay downwards into the hole. Then we let them firm up (half dry, called leather hard) and joined the 2 sides together and finished refining them with a surform and scrapers, knives and sponging. I made 2 of the same shape. One decorated by impressing the clay the other form was kept plain and burnished. Burnishing is polishing the clay surface with a metal spoon or smooth rock. I used a stone for mine.
Below are my 2 gourd ladies, joined and front one burnished. Not dried properly yet, and as yet unfired.
Below is one of the tutor, Peter Beard's finished pots. Cool eh. Reminds me of a sea urchin.
Peter giving the demo of slumping clay onto a fruit box.

This (below) is an example of the some of the great effects resulting from layering different glazes and oxides on a tile, this one is not mine. It shows very well, the difference of a dry and glossy glaze. That white dry glaze on this tile contains barium carbonate which is very poisonous and it is a substance that I wouldn't use in my own shed when I lived in Junee. So it was interesting to have a play with it.

To give an idea of some effects that were on the tiles, which may be used on a larger pot, we placed these paper sheets with cut out pot shapes over sections of the tile.
The pic above is of the colored glazes we were given to play with on the tiles.
There were 3 colors,each of an alkaline and a non alkaline earthenware glaze.
The small blue cups contained cold wax solution. Glaze will not stick to a pot where the wax solution has been put so it leaves gap .this is called wax resist.
The cups with the black liquids contained thin solutions of manganese dioxide and copper oxide. Three base glazes of stoneware white glaze,(one dry alkaline, one non alkaline glossy, one dry) were also given to go under and over the glazes mentioned earlier here.
The piece above is another of Peter's. We saw a demonstration of how he made these forms then had a try to make similar for ourselves.
I made two, decided to trash one and the one that I kept is yet to be finished. We ran out of time, which is understandable with such a big group of people, there were 20,of us.
They are made by cutting a solid block of clay with wire to shape it, then cut in half. Left to harden up until leather hard and then carved out from the centre, rejoined and finished off by refining the shape with a surform tool and a knife or scraper. The piece in this pic is quite small, the clay part is probably only about 8 inches high without the stone base.
Above and below...more examples of tiles with the paper frames on them. The one below was on one of my tiles.
I want to make some pots this shape to decorate, and try out some of this stuff on them.
The pics below and above here are both example tiles, mine again. The one above is from the beachy tile.
Pic below is our tiles spread across the table being discussed and inspected.
Below, my beachy tile before the glaze firing.

My tile number three. Above, after firing, below, before firing.
The next tile is the one that is partially framed in the paper frame a few pics back. After the glaze firing. I do have trouble with getting the photos in the proper order. Sorry.

Above and below. Tile number 4 after and before firing. Firing melts the glaze coating which is chalky looking before it is fired. The black tree was painted in underglaze, the brown tree was painted in red iron oxide and wax resisted, before the green glaze was poured on top. Glazes are basically a mixture of crushed and ground rocks and earth minerals, put together in such a way to give desired effects and melt at set temperatures. Firing makes the glaze coat permanent as well as sealing and protecting the clay underneath and giving a smooth clean surface to serve and cook food on.

When the glaze kiln (gas) was opened. An after (above)and before (below) firing picture again.
Below is a pic of my tile number 1 before firing. The after firing pic is a few before this. I couldn't work out how to get them together.
Today the Watson Arts Centre where the Canberra potter's society is situated had it's annual open day. The new studios and artist's residence are now finished and was officially opened by the current minister for the arts, Joy Burch. On open day they have the member's exhibition, I didn't exhibit, but enjoyed having a look at all the other exhibits. We also have a soup lunch going where you buy a bowl and get it filed with soup and a bit of bread then take your bowl home with you. There are also demonstrations where you can participate. I did a demonstration of painting with slip and under-glazes. I have not done a demonstration there before so was a bit nervous, but I think I did ok. A couple of little girls stopped and had a try of my painting and quite a few of the other members filed past and stopped to talk and see what I was doing and were interested, it wasn't too threatening. But..... then when everything was finished I took all my stuff out to the car to take it home again and broke the platter I had been painting for the demnstration. Bugger! I was enjoying that and was looking forward to working on it tonight at home to finish it off. Oh well, it is only clay and can go back into the recycling bucket to be wet down and reused over again. I will have to do another one to paint won't I.
That is all this post.
Good Night.
Love Linda.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Sunday scribblings "Easy"

The sunday Scribblings prompt this week is "Easy".
As always with my posts I write about something that has happened to me and made me think. Well anyway.
Last night I went to a theater production , a play named after and about a man called Albert Namatjira.
So who was this man, have you ever heard of him , google him in images and have a look at his paintings.
This man was not one who had it easy.
Albert Namatjira was an Arrente tribal man, also known as Aranda from the central desert area.
Albert Namatjira was the first famous aboriginal artist. He was the first aboriginal person in the days when australian native people were considered mere flora and fauna and not human, to be made a citizen of Australia.
When I was a child I lived in Darwin and remember seeing his paintings and trying to copy them in my drawings. I was 8 and 9 years old then. We often drove out into the bush around Darwin in the old Holden my Mum owned in those days, a tough old sedan that was capable of tackling almost any terrain, today's new cars can not do that unless they have 4 wheel drive transmissions.
On those drives I fell in love with the bush and the flora and fauna around me. I marveled in the lush tall grasses on the plains and the beautiful ghost gums standing sentinel over the land, the red, red rock formations and the red soil and big ant hills derived from those rocks. Color, color and more color, set below a bright blue sky. We chased wild buffaloes in that old car and paddled in creeks that held hiding crocodiles. Of course there were not as many crocodiles up there as there are nowadays because in those days they were not protected and their numbers had decreased due to hunting. We saw birds and fish and brolgas and magpie geese. I particularly remember the big goannas, all sorts of animals that the Northern Territory is famous for. Wonderful stuff.
Albert Saw those colors and painted them. He put them down on paper to show the world the beauty of his world.
Albert was born in harsh times. Times of drought, and famine , due to the farming of his traditional lands in part, and his parents found their way to the Lutheran mission at Hermansberg where he was given an anglicized name and received food and education, and survived....... where many indigenous children in those harsh times did not. In this survival he also lost some of his rich aboriginal culture. He married and had 10 children two of whom did not survive.
His eldest was a daughter named Maisie, she married a man called Benjamin Landara, I have one of his paintings, along the same style as Albert's work.
After the 1st world war a man called Rex Battersby made his way north on a painting expedition and they built a special friend ship. It was Rex who taught Albert to paint the western way. Rex took some of Albert's paintings with him back south, with his own work, and they sold. Albert did more, became famous, prices went up and he became a rich man. So... the government decided that as Albert was not a citizen of his own country and they therefore could not tax him on his earnings, that they would make him a citizen.
So Albert became a citizen of Australia. He traveled south to Sydney and Melbourne to exhibit his work and meet his fans. There he was treated like a stone age exhibit to oggle over by the hoi paloi of society at the time. He even met and shook the hand of a very young Queen Elizabeth who was a fan of his work. He became very disillusioned by the world down south and succumbed to depression.
In his world in Northern Australia things were very different for him. He was a good stockman, a camelier and a husband, father, uncle, christian, tribesman. Down south he was a rare exhibit himself, in his own country.
Aboriginal culture is quite different in terms of ownership of money, goods etc to what our western culture is. They share everything, and family demands upon Albert's skills and money did not help his depression at all. When asked for money he gave it freely to friends and family and was eventually left with nothing. He taught his painting skills to his family and friends.
In those days it was illegal for aboriginal people to have alcohol so when Albert gave anyone money and they spent it to get drink, as he was a citizen and they were not he was held responsible. One night a fight broke out between a man and woman who had been given money by him which they used to buy alcohol and the woman was killed. Albert was sent to prison for 6 months as a result.
Albert in his later years fell victim to the white mans diet available at the time and died as a result of diabetes and heart problems in 1959. The year I was born.
The play I saw last night was funny, sad, thought provoking. Along the back of the stage were an older woman and man, working on a large painting of the desert area in the style of Albert's work. The work was in white chalk on a black back ground. Great stuff.
They were 2 of Albert's grand children and they assisted with the information presented during this autobiographical play. Pretty special. The two main actors were very good, talented actors, singers and dancers.
Made me think about , the similarities of today, and when Albert was here.
Made me think of the similarities of Albert being treated as a live stone age exhibit. How different were we watching them last night?
So easy, not easy.
That's all. Goodnight.
Love Linda.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Sunday Scribblings "Sensation"

The Sunday Scribblings prompt site has given us the word "Sensation" to write about this week.
Here goes.
Seeing sensation, visually and feeling it emotionally, smelling cool clean air, soaking up nature and it's spring beauty.
On Saturday this week I went for a drive and, a couple of short bush walks into the hills above Canberra. We are surrounded by the beautiful Brindabella mountains which surround us and run southwards into Namadgi national park then the Kosciusko national park.
Nature's garden indeed.
The pic above is wild hardenbergia. It is in flower everywhere up in the hills at the moment, in a wild glorious tangle scrambling over rocks and up trees.
This is a pic of Gibraltar falls, about the middle third of it. Near Tidbinbilla nature reserve. We climbed around and down to near the bottom of the falls. But as gravity decrees, had to climb back up again. It was quite a steep climb for an old duck like me, and I am still feeling the results on my legs muscles. Good to put the heart rate up for a little while. But it is beautiful place and not to be missed to avoid a few sore spots. I lost my balance at one stage trying to climb up and landed bum first in a little prickly bush, most uncomfortable, Didn't do much for the little bush either. Ha ha ha.
The forest was full of beautiful wattle trees all in glorious bloom. I think this one is known as black wattle, not for the flowers but for the color of the bark as the tree ages.


High in the Brindabellas
where the wattle is in bloom.
Great granite boulders punctuate the landscape
A tangle of deep purple wild hardenbergia
clings to trees and rocks
We walked up hills, climbed down cliffs,
and amongst waterfalls,
And we marveled at the sensation of spring
Nature's imperfect perfection,
that no human landscaper could,
ever duplicate no matter how hard they tried.

Photographs do this beauty no favors, you have to see, smell and feel to experience it.
I hope you all enjoyed your weekend. Thank you for sharing a little bit of mine.
Love Linda.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Sunday scribblings "Muse & Tomorrow".

G'day, How are we all?
I am back at the Sunday scribblings site again this week. The last two prompts have been good ones. Last weeks was Muse, and this week's is Tomorrow.
I had such good intentions last week and after looking up the link provided found myself in Wikipedia. I found this excerpt there and really liked it, so I want to share it here.

O Muses, O high genius, aid me now!
O memory that engraved the things I saw,
Here shall your work be manifest to all!

Dante Alighieri, in canto2 of the inferno, Translation by Anthony Esolen.

How many times have we thought that eh?
Sitting at our desks staring at the screen,
Or with brush in hand,
or to solve a problem with another person?
How is it sometimes we find a few appropriate words that describe for us the words or feelings we can not find by ourselves?
Is that "The Muse?"
My Muse? Dunno, nature maybe.
I draw strength and peace from nature and it's beauty.
It's seemingly random perfection and imperfection.
It's everlasting cycles through the seasons that continue to amaze.
No matter how we try to change it nature always wins....eventually.

So Tomorrow.
What am I doing tomorrow, the next day, week, year. Where am I headed.
Tomorrow I clean M's house, then do another five hours cleaning the schools daily, my regular work. Then the next day, W's house. Then Pottery, then shop, clean, work, eat, do it all over again. Trying to expand the parts I enjoy, trudge through the rest. Put money away for short term and longer term plans.
I put a kayak on layby last weekend. I can't wait to get that paid off so I can play with it. Just in time for the warmer months of the year, and enjoy the man made lake that runs through and dominates this beautiful city.

On the television tonight there was a show discussing the question "Is it O.K. to smack your children?"
Today at one of the schools I witnessed something unpleasant. A mother spun around on her child and in a very very nasty voice spoke to the girl, about 9 or 10 years old, saying "If you push me like that again I will ***** smash you in the face!" Another time my son witnessed the same woman, (I think) berating her child because the child had failed to win every race she had been entered into at the sports carnival. This really gets to me because I often see this woman big noting and socializing with the other Mums as if she is the best person around and she obviously has a very different face to show than that which she displays to them.
I may not have been the perfect parent but geez, I never treated any of my children like that.
There are worst things than giving your child a smack. There are longer lasting scars inside that nobody else sees, more damaging than a swift smack. There are occasions when we hear of abuse that goes way past the smacking stage. I am not talking about that because, of course, everyone would agree that is definitely off limits, but a smack or 2, isn't as bad as some things that happen.
Anyway thats my thoughts for today.
Love Linda.