Saturday, September 25, 2010

2010 Juried Exhibitions

Once again it is that time of year when Ceramics Southern Africa has their Regional and National exhibitions, and once again it has provoked a fair amount of controversies and discussions.

I was fortunate enough to have work selected for both of these exhibitions, and once again does the question arise why does certain works, sometimes questionable, get accepted and others, often good pieces, not. Also why are certain people asked to do the selections and what qualifies them to make those decisions?

These exhibitions are announced with a very vague brief to potential entrants as to what the requirements and expectations are, and totally no brief to the selectors as to what the criteria of judging should be. People often make pieces which they believe the judges would like and therefor they donʼt do what they do best. When more conceptual pieces are expected, often neither the maker nor the selector have a clue what they are doing. Although judging is blind with no names on the pieces, having a distinct style can either count for or against you, with pieces compared to previous work.

A question that I ask is what the objective of these exhibitions are. Do you enter to get recognition? Then who do you get recognition from - a small group of people with fragile egos? Is it therefor not better to take the leap in the big world out there and be recognised by a much bigger audience? Or do you enter for the prize money attached? With no offense to the sponsors, without whoʼs donations there will be no prizes, the money is not a big enough drawcard for me to put in more effort than necessary. It is acceptable for me to rather enter work of consistent high quality and to be able to sell it for a fair price, that gives me both recognition from a wider audience and some financial gain.

The Gauteng Regional exhibition was one of the best presented in years, and although very small, generally had a very high standard, with some participants showing great personal growth in their work. The National exhibition, which will be held in Franschoek this year, attracted very few entrants from the Gauteng region. Was this because of the controversial selections for the regional, the fact that the two exhibitions are too close together or because of the cost involved in transporting the work? Whatever the reason, I am sure it will be an interesting exhibition and I cant wait to see the catalogue.

Artist's Statement

My current body of work is subsequent of a preceding range that depicted crime and violence in our society and our personal lives. After a serious illness, I was given another chance in life and decided to abandon negativity on all levels. I decided to also portray a more positive message with my work. The colour red, which represent blood, previously associated with death or injury, now becomes a renewing source of life. Cracks and joins are accentuated rather than disguised, and like scars on our body that heal over, also becomes part of the work giving it itʼs own personality.

The lace imprints and classical embellishments can be compared to denialism, or disguising reality, making it look pretty and less severe than it actually is. The numbers, previously crime statistics, are now random and serve to identity each piece - compared to all the numbers in your own life that uniquely identify you - identity number, passport number, telephone numbers, membership numbers, account numbers, etc.

With the technique of pressing slabs of soft clay into preformed moulds I am going back to basic clay forming methods, as I never want to forget where I came from. The sophistication lies in the way I award it my own signature. To reduce my carbon footprint I apply colour and glaze on greenware to cut out extra firings, also reducing the final temperature to give me sufficient strength and durability without compromising quality, thereby conserving precious energy.