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Pit Firing Community Project – The Creative Legacy of Edna Walling.

Last week I facilitated a pit firing workshop for a community project which is part of a group exhibition commemorating the work of Landscape designer Edna Walling. One of the exhibiting artists Heather Hesterman is creating an installation consisting of ceramic pinch pots en masse and plants referencing Walling’s love of constructing gardens. The pots have been made by Hesterman’s friends, acquaintances and members of the community, both adults and children, coming together to make approximately 300 palm sized pots.

During Hesterman’s research for the project she discovered an anecdote found in Walling’s writings, indicating Walling’s joy of witnessing a friend hand-build a small pot from clay, fire it and then fill it with the local native plant species, Thomasia petalocalyx.  This event together with ‘The Chalet’, which Walling had built along the Great Ocean Road, being burnt down, along with 2 other residences, inspired Hesterman’s methodology in developing the installation.

Part of that methodology involved the firing of the clay pots made during the project – enter a pit firing! As regular readers may know usually when I pit fire I add lots of varying organic ingredients and wrap the pots in seaweed, gum leaves, copper wire and the like. This endows the finished pots with a vibrant dappled colour response. Hesterman, however, wanted the smoky greys and blacks of fire to be captured on the pot surfaces, so the pit was fired using only sawdust. The sawdust creates a higher likelihood of a reduction atmosphere in the pit allowing for carbonisation of the clay surface.

The firing was successful overall with results ranging from soft smoky greys through to strong oil slick blacks.

Lisa Byrne, Director of ArtSpace at Realm, Maroondah City Council, is curating a group exhibition The Creative Legacy of Edna Walling. The exhibition commemorates the work of Landscape designer Edna Walling with artists Heather Hesterman, Rebecca Mayo and landscape designer/construction Sam Cox.

The exhibition will be held at the gallery ArtSpace at Realm, Ringwood Town Square, 179 Maroondah Highway, Ringwood. 03 92984553, 19 Sept – 13 Nov 2017, with the official opening on Saturday 21 October 2-4pm.

More information can be round on the website artsinmaroondah.com.au

And now enjoy the pics of the sawdust firing process 🙂

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New Exhibition – After the Fire.

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:

Ceramic Sculpture:

Exhibition Opening – Manningham Victorian Ceramic Art Award 2015

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 🙂

Upcoming Exhibitions….

Happy Friday People – yes its the weekend!

I thought I would share some exhibitions I am involved in at the moment so you can experience them vicariously or if you are living or visiting near the venues, you can check out the exhibitions yourself.

Currently I have three brooches in the annual Contemporary Art Society of Victoria brooch show. This is a juried show and all brooches had to be within 10 cm x 5 cm overall dimensions and 3 cm in depth. I entered three brooches for selection and all were accepted. My brooches are made from upcycled materials – buttons, beads and guitar strings. The exhibition runs from over two locations with opportunities to try and buy…. check out their website for more info.

Art brooches Dawn Whitehand

Beginning tomorrow is an exhibition being held in conjunction with the Australian Ceramics Triennale. Belonging is an exhibition of over 140 members of the Australian Ceramics Association, and again, the works were limited to a certain size — 15x15x15cm. The exhibition includes sculptural, functional and conceptual ceramics. Again, this was a juried exhibition and my entry is a wheelthrown organic form which has been manipulated and glazed to create a textural surface. The exhibition runs until 11th July and opening night is 9th July. I am hoping to get to Canberra to have a look, but probably won’t make opening night.

misc 353-1

Finally I had an artwork accepted into the Manningham Victorian Ceramic Art Award, a biennial award open to Victorian ceramicists showcasing contemporary studio pottery. I submitted my piece as a work in progress as I had not yet pit fired it, which I did last weekend, and luckily it was selected. I entered a handbuilt slab sculpture, burnished and pit fired. The picture below shows it straight from the pit – it has not been polished as yet. Polishing will deepen the colour and enhance the visual tactile qualities of the surface. This exhibition runs from the 15th July (opening night) until the 29th August at the Manningham Art Gallery in Doncaster.

Not yet cleaned & polished

Not yet cleaned & polished

So, if you are near any of these areas the exhibitions are well worth a visit, and you may even find that you buy yourself a nice piece of art!

Sunday Studio Visit

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!

Collidescope – Art Meets Fashion

Brainchild of Niki Lakerink, Collidescope Art Meets Fashion began as Niki noticed the use of well known traditional artists, such as Mondrian and Picasso,  on garments parading the European catwalks. An artist herself with a strong interest in fashion, Niki was also frustrated over the lack of sales and recognition within the regional art-scene. These two seeds cross pollinated and germinated into the Collidescope project. Coincidentally Melbourne Fashion Week was four months away, which gave Niki a target date to begin the process of bringing the concept together.

The project paired regional artists and designers together, inspiring them to work collaboratively to produce garments to be featured in a fashion parade event in Ballarat to coincide with Fashion Week. Thee were also designers drawn in to create accessories for some of the outfits – jewellery, millinery and bags.

After a hectic four months of setting up websites, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts, sourcing funding via council, arts bodies and a crowdfunding campaign, and organising fabric and printers the collaborative teams successfully completed their design briefs and the catwalk fashion parade was launched on the 21st February at the Mechanics Institute in central Ballarat. Niki also secured a partnership with Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Week (VAMFF) enabling the project to leverage some promotional muscle.

There were three sessions of the fashion parade accompanied by the VAMFF short film series. The sessions were extremely well attended, including council dignitaries and senior representatives from Regional Arts Victoria and the Arts Council of Australia. The feedback was fantastic as seen in this After Party Video filmed by Augustus Firestone for his Visual Feasts YouTube Channel.

Footage of the catwalk can be seen on Niki’s YouTube channel also filmed by Augustus Firestone.

But the project didn’t stop there!

The success of the catwalk fashion parade has been followed up by an exhibition of a selection of the garments and some of the original artworks behind the garment inspiration. The exhibition is currently at Wolveschildren Art Space and continues through to the 8th March. The garments look great in the gallery setting providing an ideal opportunity to see the fabrics and designs close up. It is also fantastic to see some of the original artworks that inspired the collaborations. Images of the garments and artworks can be seen in the picture gallery below.

But wait there’s more!

This coming weekend is the annual Begonia Festival in Ballarat, and Niki has secured a place in the program of events – a catwalk fashion parade being held on Monday 9th March at 2pm. The parade is on the main stage and is a free event.

For more information bout the collaboration teams visit the Collidescope website.

Congratulations to Niki and the team for an initiative unlike anything seen in Ballarat before!

So, what’s next?

Based on the huge success of this event Niki is planning to continue this project annually in Ballarat to showcase regional local art and design talent. She is also organising a small group of the collaboration teams to design a full range to be launched at the September City of Melbourne Spring Fashion Week.

Oh, and did I mention that I designed the jewellery for one of the garments? The Ballarat Print designed by Niki’s son Thurston features a digital photography mash up of Ballarat heritage and modern buildings printed in a block design. The fabric is very architectural in inspiration so I designed a jewellery set capturing an industrial architectural feel. It was modelled by Deborah Klein and looked fantastic.

And below are images of the garments and original works currently on exhibition at Wolveschildren Art Space.

Day Four of Facebook Pottery Challenge

So, you probably already know by now that I am participating in a challenge on Facebook where potters are asked to post three pot pictures for five days and also nominate another to do the same each day – and I am also sharing these pictures with my wordpress readers – that’s you 🙂

I have been taking a nostalgic approach to this challenge and have been sharing pictures that reflect my development over the years… from my early self taught days through to my Honours Year at Uni.  This journey, I think, shows the development of my work over the years, but also illustrates the basis of my major influence – the natural environment. These posts show a movement from functional ceramic wares through to abstract sculptural ceramics while still capturing nature and all she has to offer, and in later work, what is in danger of being lost.

Today’s images feature my PhD works– 2005-9. The title of my PhD was Sacred Space in Contemporary Society: the Artist as Sharman, and can be downloaded and read HERE. This thesis was a natural progression from my Honours thesis which questioned the role of ceramics in the 21st Century. My PhD thesis asserted that sculptural ceramics installed in the natural environment – an installation – could act as a conduit reconnecting humanity to the Earth – an act that is required if we are to stop using & exploiting the environment. The research was framed within a feminist framework, exploring the patriarchy that has allowed the unstemmed growth of capitalism and exploitation. In this context the artwork was developed to sit within the landscape, not overpower and dominate, as does much modern patriarchal sculpture.

You can see more about my PhD research on this blog HERE and HERE 🙂

You can check out my original post on my Facebook page, and even follow me if you like what you see 🙂

Until my final post tomorrow….

 

Sunday Studio Visit – Professional Development

This weeks Sunday Studio Visit is a little belated because I wasn’t actually in the studio – I was in Canberra, the Australian capital!! I had never actually been to Canberra before, so was pretty keen to see parliament house the National Gallery and anything else in between- so lets put the road trip down to professional development! Parliament House Canberra

One thing I did do before leaving was to make sure my Arts Party- Founding member sticker was on my car!! The Arts Party is the latest political Party to be registered …. I have always been very political (vegetarian feminist socialist – yikes, what a combination!) yet this is the first time I have ever been a financial member of a party!! AND I certainly wanted to spread the message in the nations capital!Arts Party

The main reason, however, for the sojourn was to visit the National Gallery (NGA) where an Arthur Boyd exhibition is currently being held entitled Agony and Ecstasy. Arthur Boyd is an iconic Australian artist who came from an iconic Australian artist family – his father, Merric Boyd, is known as the ‘father’ of studio pottery in Australia. While Arthur did do some ceramic work, his main medium was painting.

I love his work! For some it can be dark and depressing, however, for me it is the expression and acknowledgement of this futility which ironically suggests hope via a working through of emotions and ideas. For those familiar with my poetry blog you will know what I mean 🙂 The exhibition was fantastic and I am glad I went… seeing original art is certainly different to viewing images in a book!! Of course, pictures are not allowed to be taken of artworks within galleries, however, the NGA also has an outdoor sculpture garden, so I was able to take plenty of pictures in the garden!

New Exhibition : BLiNG

New Exhibition in Ballarat – Last Days

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.

Accessing Arts 10 Year Anniversary Exhibition

Ten Years of Accessing Arts in Ballarat

This post is a little late – the exhibition is finished – but I thought I would share it with readers anyway, as there was some great work in it. The post is late because I’ve been busy making so much art lately!!

Here in Ballarat there is a local community radio station 99.9 Voice FM and one of the weekly programs is called Accessing Arts and is hosted by Dave Knowles.  Dave invites local and visiting artists (visual, performing, writers, musicians), curators, arts organisation directors, and anybody connected to the arts scene, onto the show to talk about and promote their projects, exhibitions, classes  and anything else arty that may be going on in their lives.

This year the show has been running for ten years – one of the longest running radio art shows – and as a celebration local artist Kiri Smart curated a visual arts exhibition featuring artists who have appeared on the show over the years. I have been on Dave’s show several times, so was lucky enough to be included.

The group exhibition featured twenty one local artists across a diverse range of mediums – painting, sculpture, found objects through to photography and video.

It was a great show and was held at backspace Gallery, Ballarat and ran from 20th September through to 28th September.

So, thanks Dave for your tireless efforts in promoting local arts, and may there be another ten years to come!!

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