Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ceramic Competition; Win a pair of Crafty Rats.

A Formal Portrait, John Nowers. Earthenware, Collection Iziko Gallery, South Africa National Gallery, Cape Town (copyright with the Gallery). I though it fitting to post one of my lecturer's works - as he introduced me to ceramics.

Birthday Present - Prize for a lucky follower of this blog.

My blog is one year old and I have decided to give away a prize, a birthday present. The prize is a ceramic statement titled a pair of Crafty Rats (image below). Who qualifies / are eligible for the prize – entries must be a follower of the blog? Submit a rating for the blog (follow the link) and answer a simple question (the answer which is imbedded in the text of one of the blog post entries. The first correct entry that meets all the requirements wins the prize.

Award Winning Prize (Clay pot Award at Ceramics SA Regional), Pair of Crafty Rats,

Blog statistics.

The blog has reached a mile stone of 12000 hits, that's about 67 hits per day. The number of page views stand at 22, 245, a 108 per day. Not bad for a blog that focuses mainly on the development of ceramic statements. This is no ordinary blog fulfilling a different function and need. I trust that you as followers have benefited from my shared knowledge; skills and techniques and processes. Thanks for your input and support, especially John Shirley without whom this blog would not have been possible. Then also to Jim Gottuso who always posts insightful comments, thank you guys.

Competition Criteria:

  1. Be a Follower (join now).
  2. Rate the blog.
  3. Answer the following question, "What is the title of my Ceramic Sculpture that refers to the American policy on gays serving in the army, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell"?

A visual clue for the competition question.

Competition Details and requirements.

  • The prize is a pair of Crafty Rats (image above).
  • Entries have to be in by the Sunday 28 of February 2010.
  • Only one entry per person.
  • Entries are entered as comments on the post - to be published after the winner is announced.
  • An out of town winner will have to pay the transport/shipping and if required insurance costs.
  • A member of Ceramics SA Management Committee will act as the adjudicator – his/her word is final and no discussion will be entered into.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mosaics most Beautiful, Two Inspirational Projects.

The Wall of Expression, a craft intervention project in KaiKai Housing Estate, at Port Noloth, North Western Cape. Image Elle Decoration, Spring Edition No 65, Article Discover the most beautiful wall in the world.

The Wall of Expression, KaiKai Housing Estate, at Port Nolloth, North Western Cape. Image website Kaikai Housing estate. Subscribe to Elle Decoration for an extensive article on the project, see Spring Edition No 65.

Ambitious projects incorporating Mosaics at its best.

Two projects deserve mention on my blog. They both showcase mosaics at its best. Done to perfection and on a grand scale, having a serious impact on the cultural scene of both locations. The first project is on the west coast, while the other is inland on the East Coast of the country (South Africa). Both driven by two men obsessed with their visions and determined to see it through to the very end. The first project, the Wall of Expression, (KaiKai Housing Estate) Port Nolloth, is of particular interest to me, as I have in a small way contributed to the development of the project, assisting Jimmy du Toit, as creative consultant. The second Project, Lodge Amm is of interest, because nearly 11 years ago Peter Amm shared with me his dream to build a structure to house his African Craft collection. Very shortly this project, showcased below, will open its doors to local and international tourists. Although very different in style, both projects utilise ceramic tiles in a creative and exciting way, inspiring others out there with a creative vision that seems to be too outrageous.

Port Nolloth's Art and Craft's Community Intervention project gains national recognition in two magazines. Above is the title page for the article in Elle Decoration, issue no 65. Visit their site, to subscribe and follow the success of the project.

Project One.
The arid landscape and particular climate, called for a serious creative intervention. Situated on route to Namibia, the Richtersveldt and Namaqualand, home of the world renowned spring flower spectacular, it is perfectly positioned for a product that will draw attention to this rather remote part of the country. The town is being transformed by the local community's involvement in a timeless arts and crafts outreach project, that is both uplifting and adding colour, in more ways than one. The success of the project, bares testimony to one man and his family's dream, and the will of the local community to embrace his passion, commitment, perfection and determination, to see the project through until the end. This endeavour established a culture of arts and crafts, so rooted in the belief of the local community, that it seems to have been there forever. Kaikai Concept - visit the website.

A Site specific Art work with the show house in the distance - Kai Kai Housing Estate in Port Nolloth.
Images from Visi issue number 46, local decor, design & architecture Magazine. Subscribe to gain access to the extensive article and more images of the show house.

Visit the KaiKai Website for their Architectural vision including more images of the show house.

The site specific art work (image above) is not a permanent structure as yet, the scale is also misleading, but very impressive. These are mosaic covered bricks, dug into the sand to provide a spectacular creative intervention in the water. It makes for very interesting viewing as the waves break over the structure.

Show House, Images from Visi, local decor, design & architecture Magazine. with locally designed and manufactured bookshelves and furniture. Even the carpet takes inspiration from one of the wall murals. The idea is to provide the local community with clients, right on their doorstep - those purchasing property in the Kai Kai estate.

The Kitchen. Image from Visi, local decor, design & architecture Magazine.

Rocks and sea view, Port Nolloth. Image take on a trip to the town in 2008.

Indigenous succulents.
Succulents such as these, make the North Western Cape, especially Port Nolloth and surrounding areas one of the most spectacular areas to visit. For more information about botanical (indigenous local flora) expeditions visit the Kaikai Website.

Lodge Peter Amm, Kloof, KwaZulu Natal South Africa. The images above and below, provide views of the major spine of the building (towards the entrance), 20 pillars adorned with mosaics, covered with plastic to protect the artworks. The vastness of the space and scale of it is unbelievable.

The grand corridor of 20 pillars -towards the entrance of the Lodge, - quite spectacular.

2nd Project; Peter Amm's Lodge in Kloof - A dream in its final phase of being realised.

The second project is very different. Eleven years in the making, and on completion, it will be something to behold. Should you be able to afford a weekend stay, in one of the 10 executive rooms, it will be an experience never to forget. The executive resort will be launched early this year, a major marketing and communication affair. The setting is just incredible, perched high up on the ridge, situated next to a game reserve, it provides a 360 visual experience of one of the most beautiful places on the planet. The location in itself is something special and Peter Amm had the insight, at a very young age, to purchase the property and realise a lifelong dream to build a structure to house his collection of African Artefacts - now it will provide guests access to a piece of paradise (Visit my blog entry titled, Paradise and see the Gardens of Peter Amm's splendid home - 25 hectares of pure beauty). But it is the structure, and the use of ceramic mosaics and artefacts that will adorn the walls and pillars of this spectacular Lodge, that will make this one of the most unique places to visit and to experience.

View of the Grand entrance. Once the plants have grown, the entire structure will come to life and merge with its environment to create an harmonious whole, as if its been there for ages.

Architect and Horticulturist

Peter Amm is an Architect with a passion for Flora (he is also an Horticulturist). The entire entrance and landscaping incorporates water features, that will ensure that the plants grow and integrate the structure into its surroundings. A creative feast; the solving of architectural details must have been a nightmare for the construction company. Peter Amm has always had an interest in blending old window frames and doors and artefacts with the new. This has become his style and every artefact that will adorn the walls and rooms, a vast collection of note, has been transformed and shaped by his own hand, to ensure the lodge has an indigenous feel. Most of the rare pieces will be set up in a museum at the entrance.

View of the Kloof gorge, taken from the balcony of one of 10 executive rooms.

The roof structure - reminiscent of the scales of a gecko and or lizard.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Ballpoint Pen Drawings / Pierced Rats

Ballpoint Pen Drawing, Rat with body, ear and tail piercings. Ballpoint Pen drawing (Preparatory Drawing).

Ballpoint Pen drawing. Rat with ear and tail piercings (reference to the Legacy of Doug Malloy - pseudonym used by Richard Simonton).

Ball point Drawings - entry for The Nassauische Sparkasse 2010 Talent Award for Ceramics

The following drawings (above and below) are in support of my application for the Ceramic Competition Mixed Media – Ceramics Plus. The Nassauische Sparkasse 2010 Talent Award for Ceramics calls for works which combine the media of clay with either similar or seemingly incompatible materials. Any technique of combining mixed media is possible. Creative Play should bring new artistic techniques to enable artists to go beyond the narrow boundaries combining materials. MIXED MEDIA is free interpretation using “material” without regard for material restrictions to create an interesting artistic object. The 2010 the international competition 6th Nassauische Sparkasse 2010 Talent Award for Ceramics, will once again focus on “art”. Ideas photographs, videos or sketches (max 2MB) giving a comprehensible impression of the planned piece in mixed media techniques should be submitted.

Tattooed Portraits, by Kip Fulbeck. Referenced from his book Permanence. Chronical Books San Francisco.

Mixed Media and Focus for the competition entry.
I wish to focus my attention on Piercing associated with my present interest in body modifications, scarification’s and tattoos (written on the body). The work will be a continuation of the Tattooed Rats series; however additions of piercing will bring the focus on contemporary society’s fascination with body adornment, especially tattoos and piercing in a changing global society. The practice has its roots in indigenous knowledge; traditional culture rituals and was specifically associated with initiation ritual practices and rites of passage to manhood. It was reintroduced to contemporary society by gaymen….. used piercing as a profound means for expressing their alternative sexuality.

Tattooed Portraits, by Kip Fulbeck. Referenced from his book Permanence. Chronical Books San Francisco.

Piercing evokes all sorts of emotions within us and society still frowns upon it and deplores the practice thereof. Personal expressions of this kind is a cultural phenomena associated with the individual’s need to express him or herself in a cultural diverse and hybrid society (globalisation) – the coming together of cultures and groupings (collisions) and their social behaviour patterns and beliefs – the creolization of cultures.

Ballpoint Pen drawing, Rat with neck and tail piercings. Ballpoint Pen drawing.

Memorable event - historical Reference.

In my quest to find a memorable / historically significant event and or incident associated with the act of piercing, I came across the controversial court case referred to as “Operation Spanner. The outcome of which sent shock waves through the gay community (especially the leather and SM community). Such an an event challenges our perceptions of freedom - one wonders as to how our very own constitutional court would have handled the case. South Africa is a young democracy with the most liberal constitution in the world. Our courts, especially the Constitutional court have had to deal with many controversial cases (for more information refer to reference material of the Title of the work below - especially the Zulu Bull Killing ritual). Such court cases contribute to an evolving democratic society, dealing with contemporary rituals and sexual practices that facilitates the deconstruction of traditional values and morals (years of Christian Education). It helps shape a contemporary and tolerant society. It provides mechanisms to come to terms with our own prejudices from a discriminatory point of view (due to lack of understanding and religious conservatism and fundamentalism).

Rat with tail piercing. Ballpoint Pen drawing.

Final Product. Ceramic Installation of 16 tattooed and pierced rats.

Tile; Spanner in the works.

The ceramic installation of 16 tattooed and pierced rats will commemorate the event Operation Spanner; in solidarity with the individuals convicted of assault (served prison sentences), and in support of various forums set up to highlight their plight and many practitioners finding themselves in the same predicament. This event is controversial and highlights the courts inability to deal with complex contemporary cultural, ritual and sexual practices. The last two decades have highlighted many such issues – the recent gay marriage in Malawi was considered an act of defiance against the Governments stance on homosexuality. Our very own Zulu bull-killing ritual could not be resolved. Cultural wars can’t be won in courts (Caption of the news paper article covering the event). The Pietermaritzburg High court had to defer judgement because of a lack of cultural debate and clarity on such a complex cultural practice (tradition versus animal abuse). The court was not in a position to make an informed decision - to move forward and pass judgement ( Bull Killing can however go ahead). Operation spanner is a similar case that falls clearly within the scope of my expressive endeavours – from a moral, religious and sexuality point of view.

Initial Sketches; Preparatory Drawings, Ideas for contemporary piercings as suitable mixed media - associated with ancestral rituals of tattoos and piercings as part of initiation ceremonies.

Books and Websites.

Books on piercing
Rush, J. Spiritual Tattoos - A Cultural History of Tattooing, Piercing, Scarification, Branding and Implants. Frog Ltd Berkeley California 2005.
Angel, E. The Piercing Bible. Crossing Press, Berkeley Toronto. 2009.

Piercing websites.
Elayne Angel's website (Author of the Piercing Bible). - a Body Modification Resource.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Summer recess; memorable time spent at ceramist Hylton Nel

Plate Hylton Nel, 31 October 2002, Collection Eugene Hon.

We all need a welcome break. For South Africans it is our summer recess, the end of the finanical year, the intake for new recruits as academics, a time to see your family and to celebrate the festive season - all a bit too much. There is never enough time to spend valuable time with the family and to rest and rejuvenate for the New Year. I spent some valuable time with Hylton Nel, the most accomplished South African Ceramist. He lives in Calitzdorp on the "wesoewer" of the Nel River. Above and below are some of his unique plates for which he has become world renowned. He was my external examiner for my Masters Degree at UCT. His agent is Michael Stevenson based in Cape Town. Some sites to visit and read more about him and his work is Artthrop and David Krut Publishing (only book available on Hylton Nel, Author: Michael Stevenson, English, Monograph, Soft cover, 127 Pages, 28x28cm, ISBN 0 620 31546 6, Price: (ZA) R 295.00. A catalogue of his 2001 Retrospective is available at Clarkes Book shop; see details below.

A variety of plates by ceramist Helton Nel. Images taken from the Catalogue (Copy available at Clarkes Bookshop Cape Town), his retrospective exhibition held at King George Gallery Port Elizabeth in 2001. Compiled by Melanie Hillebrand.

House Nel, on the 'wesoewer' of the Nel River in Calitzdorp, on Route 62 to Cape Town.

Front stoep of House Nel.

View from the Stoep of his studio (on the left) and the Nel river.

View of the Mountain. Taken from the stoep.

Drawing studio in House Nel.

A close-up of one of the more special flowers in the garden.

Indian Miniature Detail.
I just love Indian miniatures, maybe it is because of my passion for drawing. What follows are a few select images, taken out of Hylton Nel's Collection of fine art books. I love visiting him, he always shares his knowledge and is quick to refer one to an article, image and/or story in a book depending on the course of the discussion. His extensive library, provides updated knowledge about a variety of subjects, inspirational material for a ceramist living in a remote part of the country. He has gained extensive knowledge of Chinese Ceramics, having taught the History of Ceramics at the Port Elizabeth Technikon for many years. Due to his knowledge and passion for Chinese Art, he has a discerning eye, which comes in very handy when frequenting local second-hand and antique shops. He therefore has a fine collection of ceramics, jade and furniture.

Another Indian Miniature, an inspirational image.

Indian Miniature, one of many images, taken from one of Hylton Nel's extensive collection of books. The shape and styling of the lips is of particular interest to me and could be an inspiration for a work in the future.

A fine lunch at Rosendal, country retreat of Daniel Van Der Merwe, pit stop on the way back from Cape Town. I always take the scenic routes to stimulate the mind and to avoid traffic fines.

Landscape at Rosendal. Eastern Freestate, South Africa.
The image was taken during a sunset walk after the late lunch photographed above.