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 🙂
What a busy Sunday this has been!
This morning I worked with the community from Scotsburn and surrounds as part of the ongoing bushfire relief project – of which you can see previous posts HERE. And then this afternoon I ran a workshop for the Ballarat branch of Yellow Ladybugs – a group that connects girl with autism – its been a great day!!
The Scotsburn group continue to create some fab ceramics – with a concentration on Christmas decorations this session. The bushfire occurred a week before Christmas in 2015, so there were lots of positive messages inscribed onto the decorations.
And there were also some creative additions – all to be exhibited in the end of the year exhibition to coincide with the anniversary picnic in December.
In the afternoon the Ladybug girls produced some amazing treasure boxes – they so enjoyed it, and so did I !!!
I am writing this a day late as yesterday (Sunday) I just ran out of time after being at the Scotsburn Bushfire Art Relief project all day and then visiting friends who live in Scotsburn, and just managed to save their property, for dinner.
The Scotsburn fires happened a week before Christmas last year (2015), and burnt through 4,000 hectares, taking livestock, shedding, homes and precious memories.
The Victorian government appointed a bushfire relief officer to facilitate healing in the community and as part of that initiative an arts program was established.
This is the second art session we have held in the community – you can check out the first session HERE.
And here are some pics of the finished works from the first session:
There will be a third session in mid November culminating in an exhibition to be held for a week and coinciding with the Anniversary Family BBQ being held in December to bring the community together and commemorate the bushfire.
The session included clay (me), drawing, felting and jewellery making, and the community had a great day with a BBQ lunch between sessions.
Following are some pics from the day and go to show how art is integral to bringing communities together and healing 🙂
Regular readers will be aware that over the past two terms I have been working with a group of enthusiastic special needs people at the Ballarat Neighbourhood Centre. The group, with some others from the centre, have been working on creating a community garden, and the group of people I worked with were specifically concentrating on the sensory garden. The garden includes a bed of fragrant plants and herbs, two bench seats and mosaic pavers made by each participant being installed in the pebble pathway, and a group mosaic mounted on the wall. You can check out previous about the making of the mosaics HERE.
The theme of the project was Literacy and Learning through Community Gardening, a great concept, and after many weeks of hard, and fun, work, the mosaics have been finally installed and the project was officially launched on Wednesday with all the stakeholders present, including sponsors, funders, community supporters, creators, Neighbourhood Centre employees and the range of people who actively worked to create the project, such as my little group. Greens councillour, and now deputy mayor, Belinda Coates officially launched the project with a short speech and the cutting of the ribbon.
It was a great afternoon, and the group were so proud of their achievements, seeing their mosaic pieces within the garden and observing the overall enthusiasm from all the people attending the function. A couple of them even made speeches along with the project co-ordinator Kate Owen.
As well as the sensory garden the overall project also includes a series of wicking beds for growing herbs, vegetables and flowers, so the project does have a long term learning aim through harvesting and maintaining the overall garden. And the added bonus being that as the garden grows and becomes more established it will be a lovely community space that anybody can access for some relaxing and time out.
The afternoon finished with afternoon tea which included a lemon slice which was actually ‘lemony’ – yum! The function room walls were also adorned with lots of photo essays of the project as it progressed and was an interesting and fun way to look back at the development of the project in its entirety.
Personally, it was a great experience for me… I had a little exposure to mosaics many years ago, and with funding from Regional Arts Victoria was able to partake in a weekend workshop with mosaics expert Helen Bodycomb to refresh and refine my skills for the project. Helen remained ‘on call’ for any advise, which was great. Overall, it was a great project professionally, but also personally satisfying, with a fantastic community outcome.
Following are few photo galleries of the afternoon – enjoy 🙂
People gathering in anticipation of the launch
Admiring the mosaics!
They are ssooo touch feely! (this is Helen with whom I did the workshop)
Discussing the group mosaic piece with Malcolm Sanders, Central Highlands representative for Regional Arts Victoria.
And to finish some overall pics of the installed mosaics 🙂