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:
Its been a while since I posted – I have been sick in varying degrees (coming good, then not) for a few months now. I started with insomnia a few months ago which left me run down. I then came down with a virus which I couldn’t shift and which developed from there to a severe chest infection and virus induced asthma! I have never had asthma, so it has been weird! Due to ll of this I have been doing the bare minimum of what I need to do, and now that I am starting to feel better (I think) I am in catch up mode.
I haven’t even posted a Christmas pressie reminder for my ETSY shop – so here is one now 🙂
As for today’s Sunday studio visit – I wasn’t in the studio today. Being a couple of weeks from Christmas we had a family Christmas lunch with a side from my partners family, which was lovely and relaxing. The weather was beautiful, which is only just starting to happen in Ballarat – so it was perfectly timed!
The hosts live a big warehouse which they are slowly converting in a gorgeous home, and there were some fantastic views from the outdoor deck of the surrounds, which included some great geometric architectural juxtapositions which I couldn’t resist capturing on my phone.
So, I thought these shots would be a great re-introduction to my – hopefully – more regular blogging life 🙂
As readers may know I am somewhat a specialist in pit firing, having explored it extensively during my PhD and then writing a book about it which you can find on lots of online book stores such as AMAZON.
Lately I have been yearning to explore more methods of alternative firing. The idea arose when my pugmill decided to die leaving me with lots of clay I haven’t had time to manually reclaim. So I thought I would make an outdoor clay kiln – this is still in the planning stage, and I hope to get it up and running (so that it is ‘fired’) before fire restrictions come in this year.
In the meantime I decided to use some of this excess clay – mainly from buckets under the potters wheels which has a high water content – and experiment with a TeePee firing. I did the firing a couple of weeks ago, but hadn’t had time to post it till now – it seems to be very busy at the moment!
I am lucky enough to live on a 10 acre property with lots of trees, and it has been a windy year so there are lots of blown down branches scattered around. I began by constructing my TeePee using these branches and then lining it with fence palings which I reclaimed from a neighbour a few months ago. Before lining the TeePee though, I constructed a tripod with smaller branches within the TeePee which included seeweed, cow dung, salt and some copper sulphate and nestled my pots into it.
I had previously made a series of pinch pots which were were prepared using string and copper wire wound around the pots to hold on seaweed, gumleaves and cow dung.
After lining the TeePee with fence palings I dipped newspaper – in two or three layers for strength – into clay slip, which I had made by using my glaze drill to mix the clay in the potters wheel slag buckets. I then lined the TeePee with this paper making sure I left I left two holes for lighting the fire and a few draft holes to feed the fire. I also left a hole in the top of the TeePee for drawing.
The firing was really fun to do and visually splendid and I was very happy with the result for a first effort and intend to experiment with this technique more.
And here are the finished pots cleaned and polished 🙂
Pot One – when the paper slip fires it creates an almost low fire sculpture, so I rescued some shards the following morning and experimented 🙂
Pot Two – love these colours!
Pot Three – great copper wire markings here!
Pot Four – love the subtlety ….
BBRRRR …. we have had a cold snap here in the southern reaches of Australia, and where I live is a high area of Victoria which is usually colder and more rainy than other parts of Victoria. It has been really cold and wet now ffor about a month, more so in the past few days, in the lead up to a forecast for snow!
So with a forecast for snow and below 0C temperatures, I awoke to snow this morning. Snow is beautiful and I say, if its going to be that cold it may as well snow!! We usually get snow flurries here most Winters, in fact the last was only two weeks ago, but it is not usually enough to settle on the ground. Today’s snow was the most we have had since June 2000. I did take pics of that snow, and have searched, but can’t find them.
Here’s a YouTube drone view of the area near me courtesy of Higher Perspective Photography – I live on the other side of the mount, which is Mount Warrenheip.
And here are some pics of today’s snow…. they are all colour photos, but some appear black and white due to the flat light. They are all straight from my phone, no filters in an attempt to capture the grey atmosphere of the morning – enjoy 🙂
Many years ago I had a studio/gallery separate to where I live and at this studio I had a huge brick kiln, unfortunately I don’t have any pics of the kiln, though I do of the studio.
After a few life changes at the time I decided to downsize and relocate the studio to the garage at my home, which I did over the Christmas break of 2003-4, and have been slowly renovating ever since, the most recent being in the past few months and which I have posted about HERE.
Over the past decade the studio has gone from tin garage to insulated, walled and painted studio, to studio with new entry and french doors, to the most recent extension.
As part of the expansion I also acquired a ‘new’second hand kiln, which I have also posted about HERE.
Now back to the huge brick kiln…. and today’s studio visit. When I relocated I pulled the kiln apart and brought all of the bricks and kiln shelves and props with me. The props I have been using ever since, but the kiln shelves were too long for the smaller kiln I also had at the time, and still have. As the kiln was large it had lots of kiln shelves.
All of these kiln shelves are finally coming in handy for two reasons…. 1/ after many years of firing my smaller kiln to stoneware temperature the shelves have become warped. So today I (or should I say hubby) cut down some shelves to fit the kiln…. and 2/ bonus that the old shelves are the perfect fit for my new/old pert-o-kiln, well almost. They are fraction short on width, but perfect on length. And I have enough shelved for both with more left over!
The other great leftover from the old studio/gallery was sandwich boards, a couple of which I still use now, but I did have a spare one….and amazingly they fitted precisely under the tables in the new glaze room so that I was able to convert them into mini trolleys with caster wheels to put glaze buckets on for storage under the tables. So now it is easy to pull the buckets in and out for simple access to the glazes.
And the best part is that I am still recycling … even the castors were reclaimed from a couple of storage units I rescued from a dump site and am now using in the new renovation!
Once all this outdoor work was finished I retired indoors into what I call the ‘jewellery room’ – basically a room inside the house I converted to a ‘clean’ studio when my kids moved out, much to their chagrin! I am really behind with product photography for my ETSY shop due to the studio renovations and really want to upload some new listings over the coming weeks – that means good photos!
Apart from that I fired the kiln – the old one. I haven’t fired the new (old) kiln yet as I only cut the kiln shelves today. So tomorrow a new batch of kiln wash will be made and away I go!
I hope you have enjoyed visiting the studio …. talk soon 🙂
This weeks WordPress photo challenge inspired me as it combined those two wonderful words ‘Mother’ & ‘Earth’
The challenge is posited between Earth Day and Mothers Day, depending on where you are in the world – but regardless, it is a great theme, and one I must address.
In our current climate where politicians seem to continue denying climate change – or if they accept it, they have to implement policy that suits everybody (IE big business) – I struggle to feel positive about the future of the planet and my/our children.
Much of my ceramic artwork is informed by this atrocious dilemma and aims to draw the viewers attention toward the world climate crisis. My PhD thesis addressed these very issues – the climate within a feminist (mother earth) framework.
Within this context I am posting some images of amazing rocks found in Lorne, Victoria. The impressions on the rock faces are inspiring, caused by the ever changing cross currents within the bite of the area – they look so beautiful and organic, and I hope these images will inspire a rejuvenated outlook toward our precious environment, as is the aim with most of my artwork.
Today I am participating in the WordPress weekly photo challenge, and this weeks theme is Landscape.
Last weekend I went to Lorne for the Sculpture Biennale, which I have posted about HERE.
While I was there I took a couple of landscape shots – well they are a combination of landscape/seascape/rockscape – but thats what coastal landscape photography is!
Anyway, I only took two shots, specifically for this challenge, which I looked up before I left, because I was too busy shooting shots of the sculpture! I had intended to take more, but it didn’t happen.
It was an overcast day so the tones are gray which is actually a great contrast with the rocks.
So here are my pics 🙂
Be sure to visit other entries to the weekly challenge HERE.
Its been a little while since I participated in a photo challenge on WordPress, but this weeks topic on Cee’s Photography blog caught my eye – mainly because I like doors, and handles and locks and stuff, and the textures that emerge on these objects over time.
I went back through my travel archives for this challenge and found some pics from Sth Korea, Italy and France – enjoy!
Be sure to also visit other entries to this challenge HERE
I missed last Sundays studio visit – I was in Melbourne catching up with family stuff, so just couldn’t manage a post BUT I am going to share a couple of pics which I took whilst in Melbourne…
My mum is an avid dragon collector & this pic was taken early in the morning with the sun shining through her window & casting a fantastic shadow, highlighting a very small portion of her collection.
This yarn bombing pic was taken while hubby & I were having a coffee in the Footscray Mall … there was lots of tree decorating in the mall, including some miniature tutus around tree trunks!
That’s it for today …. see you later in the week 🙂
January has been a bit of a quasi holiday month – I wasn’t teaching, apart from a couple of school holidays classes, and I wasn’t doing much in my Etsy shop, however I did participate in a couple of ‘challenges’ on Facebook and Instagram.
Today I would like to share some images I shared on Instagram as part of a National Gallery of Victoria 30 days of creativity challenge I did in the hope of winning free tickets to the Andy Warhol & Ai Weiwei echibitions – I didn’t win…. oh well I’ll still go anyway 🙂
Have a great day 🙂