As readers may know from previous POSTS I have been working on a new body of work, including sculptural ceramics and photography, which is now on exhibition at ContainArt till February 16th. The container is currently on location at Weerama Part, Wendouree.
The exhibition was inspired by the Scotsburn Bushfires, which I have also posted about before – both the experience on the day and Bushfire Relief Arts Program I was involved with in the following months.
I have friends who live in Scotsburn (and almost lost their home and business) and I know of others who did lose their homes. On the day of the fires I stood on my property watching the smoke and water bombers flying over, so it was very dramatic.
Approximately a week after the fires, which destroyed 4000 hectares, 12 homes and 23 sheds, I visited the site and drove through the area extensively following the path of the fire. I took many pictures and have a comprehensive documentary of the immediate aftermath with the intention of developing a body of work to reflect the fires and comment on the climate (political and environmental) which has contributed to the severe bushfires Australia is experiencing on a more regular basis.
The opportunity serendipitously arose to hold an exhibition in ContainArt just a little after the twelve month anniversary of the event, providing a great chance to commemorate the fires.
All of the works are, of course, for sale, simply send me a message to begin the discussion 🙂
Following is the ‘Artist Statement’ for the exhibition and some images…
Artist Statement – Dawn Whitehand – After the Fire
As a person I feel deeply saddened about the natural environment and the harmful effect the human race has inflicted upon Mother Earth.
As an artist I feel a duty to bring these issues to the attention of the general public via a visual interpretation of the climate dilemmas currently perplexing our global society.
A little over a year ago the effects of global warming were brought into stark reality when the town of Scotsburn and surrounds, on the outskirts of Ballarat, experienced fires that raged out of control on the 19th December 2015. The fire, once started was fuelled by dry conditions, extreme heat and high winds, which combined to form the perfect storm of environmental conditions.
At the time I witnessed the billowing smoke from my property, and having close friends in the area I was watching and worried. Thankfully my friends remained safe, as was their property. Others were not so fortunate.
A week later I undertook an extensive tour throughout the entire route of the fire, documenting the physical effect of the tragic event on the environment. During the following months I worked with the local community conducting art workshops as part of the Scotsburn Bushfire Relief Project.
This current body of work presents a series of documentary photographs and interpretive ceramic sculptures which respond to the colours, shapes and textures of the event, that also hopefully, evoke an emotive outcome within the viewer that raises questions about their personal and communal responsiveness toward the environment, and their role within the wider global context.
A little after a year later I revisited Scotsburn and the abundance of regrowth is majestic – Mother Nature healing both the local community and her natural environment.
By presenting a display commemorating the Scotsburn fires in the context of “urban Ballarat” I am hoping to make this seemingly physically remote event more immediate & real.
Overall images of ContainArt:
Images of individual windows:
Evening all – I hope everyone had a great Christmas & New Year 🙂
I have mostly recovered from my stretch if illness which made it difficult for me to keep up to date on the blog posts, so hopefully I will be a bit more regular this year!
Today I have been making new sculpture for an exhibition I am having in ContainArt which I am installing on the 11th January – YES, it is going to be a rush!! With having being ill and then indulging in Christmas festivities I couldn’t get to making any earlier.
I’m hoping to pit fire some of the pieces and it is fire restrictions time in Australia so I have to apply for a permit – hopefully that comes through OK.
The exhibition will consist of ceramic sculpture and photography – but no more information…. all will be revealed after the installation 🙂
But here’s a sneak peek at today’s making fun…. have a great week everyone 🙂
Its been a few weeks since I did a Sunday Studio visit post – I have been so busy, and one of the reasons for this I have written about HERE (and this is still ongoing!) and I will write a post soon about the other major project soon!!
Today, however I took time out of the busy schedule to visit the Lorne Sculpture Biennale. It is a great show which I have had work in during previous years, and this year had a sculpture in the Wye River Project – an exhibition of small sculpture organised in support of the Wye River and surrounding community devastated by the Christmas Day bushfires.
I vividly remember the ‘breaking news’ stories on Christmas Day, which was hot on the trail of the Scotsburn fires nearer my home which I have written briefly about HERE. Lorne is also special to me as I half grew up near the area (Torquay); ran a business which serviced the area for several years; and have participated in the Lorne sculpture show previously.
So it was great to be able to participate in the Wye River project to support the community – with this sculpture, which I posted about during the ‘work in progress’ phase HERE.
Wye River is a small community, so, as expected, does not have a gallery space, so sculptures were exhibited at the General Store and the Wye Beach Hotel – here is a pic in situ with lots of wine/beer rings on the plinth – I like to think this means it got looked at alot!
But back to the Biennale… I, of course, had my favourites, some of which I have posed on Instagram, and remarkedly my fav aligned with the judges and the peoples choice awards – not very often that happens! Unfortunately (and stupidly) I didn’t bring my wide angle lens, so just have a couple of pics (but will be posting more soon). The winning artist is Jennifer Crompton for Sea Country Spirits, an amazing installation of organic and sea inspired forms made from an array of materials – wire through to feathers and shells – all suspended from trees so that the viewer could walk within the created environment accentuated by the natural movement stirred by the breeze which created a surreal and almost apocalyptic feel – if there had been no people strolling around!!
Visually delicate and mostly white in colour, the forms suggested the fragility of the Great Barrier Reef coral and the current bleaching of it which is such a hot topic at the moment in Australia. I’m not sure if this was Crompton’s intent as artist statements were not displayed with the works, but this is how it spoke to me – more about that in a future blog post.
Surprisingly my most favourite sculpture was not actually part of the exhibition! And I almost got cut off from the mainland during photographing it due to the tide coming in!!
A beautiful rock sculpture, reminiscent of Andy Goldsworthy created on the gorgeous rockscape of Lorne, this sculptor has been in every Biennale show – but not by invitation!! He gatecrashes and installs his sculpture amongst the selected artworks – which I think is fantastic! It begs the question about what are art exhibitions, who gets in, what they mean, and to whom? More about this in my upcoming post also.
So, for now to finish of this quasi studio visit I’ll leave you with my favs from the exhibition …. enjoy, though I will be posting a more in depth review in the coming week, so stay tuned 🙂
Today in the studio I am creating a new sculpture. It’s been a while since I created new sculpture – not sure why, it seems so many other things get in the way!
So why am I creating a new sculpture – some motivation, I guess!! Recently I was invited to create a work for a micro exhibition for the Lorne Sculpture Biennale in response to the bushfires that occurred on Christmas Day in the Wye River area. The brief was positivity and regeneration.
I was really pleased to be asked, as only a month before I had experienced a large scale bushfire near my home where some close friends had been affected, but thankfully had kept their house and business, though unfortunately many other homes were lost! And three years ago the mount I live at the base of had been on fire. So, in a way, making a sculpture for the Wye River bushfire also allowed me to communicate the emotions I had felt in response to the other two fires.
So with these thoughts in my head as a starting point I started out in the studio with a pre conceived concept, but – of course – ended up with something completely different.
Now, this above thought is not be taken lightly, and I am intending to write a post about this in the future Why was I able to change my concept/design on the run? I believe the arts cultivates dynamic thinking which can drive innovation and be flexible upon need…. this is why STEM needs to be STEAM in our education system (*see below).
But back to my sculpture… I am not going to post a completed picture of the work, that will come at the opening or after, however, I will post some progress pics from the studio today …. cheers 🙂
*STEM = Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics
*STEAM = Science, Technology, Engineering, ARTS, Mathematics
As an attempt to be more regular with my blog (famous last words) I am going to post the occasional “saturday shelfie” – that is, what I am working on currently in the studio (and a play on selfie).
Today I am putting the finishing touches on a custom order – a grotesque mug. The commissionee had a slipcast mug which he had for many years and dropped it…. the mug had sentimental value to him and he wanted another one and found me via Facebook!
This mug is not slip cast but hand sculpted, and I must say i did enjoy the process. It has been a long time since I sculpted a piece of work in such detail. I used to make dragons many years ago, so it was interesting to recall the feelings and skills of the past.
Maybe I’ll explore creating some more sculpture in the near future….
Have a great Saturday everyone 🙂
Regular readers will know one of my ceramic sculptures was recently accepted into the biennial Manningham Victorian Ceramic Art Award, an award that has become a fixture on the ceramic awards calendar in recent years, The award is open to all Victorian artists, and spans functional ceramics through to sculptural and conceptual works, as long as the main medium used is clay.
The exhibition opening was held on Wednesday evening at the Mannigham Art Gallery in Doncaster, so now I can reveal my sculpture and give you a bit of information about the conceptual underpinnings of the piece.
So what is this artwork actually about?
I’m glad you asked…here’s my Artist Statement:
Much of the artwork I create addresses environmental issues, sustainability and the need for humanity to reconnect to the Earth and realise their symbiotic relationship with the landscape.
Landscape 1 is the first in a series of sculptural artworks that capture this ethic in both the making process and the finished form.
The sculpture was press moulded in two halves using the polystyrene end packaging of a radiator heater. Polystyrene is especially bad for the environment in its manufacturing process and in that it doesn’t break down and so remains a permanent waste product.
With some creative thinking, however, this material can be used to model artworks or can be turned into artworks itself.
The surface of Landscape 1 is achieved through pit firing, a method of firing ceramics in the ground using organic materials to achieve the mottled coloured surface. When pit firing I only use materials which are found on the ground – old branches, sticks, pine cones, cow dung and leaves.
Given the fragile state of the future environment this method of firing is also a sustainable way of finishing sculptural and decorative ceramics
The exhibition runs until the 29th August and there are some fantastic ceramic artworks to see, and buy, from over fifty Victorian artists, emerging through to established. So if you are in or near the area it is definitely worth a visit.
Below are some images from opening night….enjoy 🙂
So, besides being busy in the studio with ClayMotion classes and the mosaic project with the Ballarat Neighbourhood Centre, and keeping on top of my Etsy shop, I’m trying to also play with the development of some new sculptural forms – coz I have nothing else to do!!
PS – I also have a stupid slow computer that wants to keep shutting down which is why I didn’t post a Sunday Studio Visit last week – but of course it is working fine now as I type my draft for this post because it is 2am in the morning!!
Anyhows…. as mentioned this week I have been playing around with some new sculptural forms which are little more formal than my usual style of sculpture. These new experiments are much more formal in their design and presence than my usual organic works. This formal and angular design also lends itself to handbuilding, which is a technique I have been growing to enjoy alot more in the past couple of years.
I am, however, in a quandary about how to glaze this piece …. currently I like the surface textures…. I was thinking of pit firing them which would mean burnishing them which would eliminate the surface texture. So perhaps an organic matt earthy style glaze…. or perhaps pit fired with only a partially burnished surface…. arrgghhh!! Thoughts?
Here’s some images of the sculpture from a variety of angles to inspire your advice! Thanks in advance 🙂
Today I was not actually in the studio, I was participating in the Golden Plains Arts Trail, purely by chance.
I was in a group exhibition a few years ago for the Arts Trail, but this year decided not to join in, but then a friend who was opening her studio for the weekend event had a last minute commitment elsewhere on the Sunday so needed someone to babysit – and that was me! So I took along some sculpture to display in her garden.
This friend is Julie Collins, who, in collaboration with her husband, makes fantastic large scale sculptures which you can see on their website.
The Arts Trail is an annual event held in the Golden Plains Shire in Central Victoria which showcases local artists who participate by opening their studios to the public or by staging solo or group exhibitions at various venues throughout the shire. Members of the public obtain a map of all the locations from places such as tourist information centres or galleries, and visit artists over a weekend…. it is a great success and many people specifically come to the region especially for the event.
The sculptures I displayed for the day are all ceramic and are wheelthrown and manipulated while still soft to form organic shapes. The pieces are finished in textured glazes that highlight the natural forms….. here are some pictures 🙂 Have a great day!
This weeks Sunday Studio is a short one, as I am again not in the studio, but am visiting Shepparton for the weekend. The main purpose of the visit is to see John Perceval’s Angels at the Shepparton Art Museum. I’ll be going there tomorrow -another professional development trip.
So for now I will share the cows of Shepparton!! Shepparton is in the Goulburn Valley famous for growing fruit and the Shepparton Preserving Company (SPC). But prior to fruit the first white settlers grazed diary cattle, so Shepparton have over ninety fibreglass life size cows scattered throughout the town, decorated in various colours and designs.
Called the MooovingArt Cows Project, the cows change locations and design on a regular basis!
Though my partner did not like the cows – “they’re too contemporary” – I thought they were cute and playful, adding a bit of colour and vibrancy to the urban landscape and the parks they are located within. And they certainly catch people’s attention and become talking point.
So, here are a few cows…. enjoy 🙂
© Dawn Whitehand 2014
Readers may remember a couple of weeks ago the subject of my Sunday Studio Visit post was about making work for a new exhibition – BLiNG.
Well since then the exhibition has been formally opened by Ballarat public arts officer Julie Collins, which was great fun with lots of art lovers turning up, and even a few sales being made.
As the exhibition title suggests the exhibition is all about sparkle and glam, showcasing new works by local artist Linda Franklin, Niki J Dai-ko Myo , Melinda Muscat, myself, and introducing the Berry Street-ettes, a group of local teenage girls.
Linda’s beautiful icon influenced paintings contain political commentary reflecting on the Western and Muslim worlds, the wearing of the burqa, and the participation of the Obama administration in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and the divers range of ‘bling’ moments in life; Niki’s ornate animal skulls revisit her childhood experience of being a city child moving to the country and the sudden exposure to the harsh reality of death within the landscape. Melinda’s work, as always, is full of colour and layers of extravagances. The Berry Streetettes explore the sub culture of graffiti and street art by BliNGing up used spray paint cans. As for me, my work is content-LESS – purely about the fun of creating, something I don’t think I have ever actually done before!
Its a great exhibition and well worth a visit, amd this is last weekend to see it!!. So, if you are in or around the Ballarat area head over to Wolveschildren Artspace.