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:
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
Today in the studio I am finally catching up on polishing the ceramic sculpture I fired last weekend in the pit firing, which was the subject of last Sunday’s studio visit.
The piece in the middle of the picture is the sculpture I have had accepted into the Manningham Ceramic Awards which i have to send off tomorrow, and the other two sculptures i need to photograph as proposals for anther two upcoming art awards – fingers crossed.
That’s about it for today in the studio…. yesterday my son & his girlfriend visited, and we had a bit of a late night watching movies and chatting, so it was a bit of a late start to the day!
Hopefully I will be organised for more updates mid-week 🙂
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 🙂
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 check out my original post on my Facebook page, and even follow me if you like what you see 🙂
Until my final post tomorrow….
After reading previous posts you will know 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 – so I thought I would also share these pictures with my wordpress readers – that’s you 🙂
I am taking a nostalgic approach to this challenge and am sharing pictures that reflect my development over the years…yesterdays post showed pots from my 2nd & 3rd years at Uni while the previous post featured pots with modelled wildlife on them, illustrating my nature influences – these nature influences remained, and continue to remain, but have evolved to become more abstract.
Today’s images are from my Honours year at Uni – 2004. It was this year that I began to to experiment with pit firing for the first time whilst exploring the function of pottery in contemporary society. To this end my work began to evolve from a functional form to a more abstract form, as illustrated by the images.
The images are not great quality…. they were taken in 2004 before I knew much about photography and before I had a great camera…. but they show the development of the work
You can check out my original post on my Facebook page, and even follow me if you like what you see 🙂
This is the latest artwork to emerge from the studio: Pod.
It features three wheelthrown, manipulated, burnished and sawdust fired ceramic forms, woven into a pod-like structure made from willow, eucalyptus, bark and jute.
I love combining natural materials with ceramics,as they compliment each other so well.
A short statement about Pod:
Pod explores the natural environment, and via its interweaving construction the interconnection of human relationships and what they mean in the twenty-first century. The sculpture is made of small seed pod symbols made of clay fired in a pit dug into the ground and eucalyptus bark and small branches embracing the pods signifying the interwoven environment in which we live.
Dimensions: 66 x 16 x 9cm Price: $420.00 (any sales enquiries can be directed to my email address)
I hope you like Pod 🙂