Andy and I can't believe it's nearly a month since our Clay Safari in the USA.
Here we are at home, the grey rain lashing against our window panes, and our thoughts turn to the warmth of the people we worked with in Maryland and the experiences we shared.
Oh for the warmth of my crucible.
It's a piece I built especially for the last night. I handbuilt it from black clay that I reclaimed from the dump pile. Spending a cold fall day, out on the loading dock, sun on my back, consumed by the flow, feverishly slapping and winding the clay, oblivious to the weak Sunday sun setting behind me, until I realised I was freezing and could no longer feel my hands or nose. On our final night, everyone in the studios took fake money, attached wishes and hopes and burnt them in the crucible.... then we went to sing mad karaoke!
Inspired and in love with woodfiring, we are hoping to bring the process here. Our vision is a Northern Irish version of the wonderful woodfire kiln we were lucky enough to fire in at Baltimore Clayworks. (pic above) Our friend Andy Cooke already has the structure built on his land. Watch this space for a HUGE project we are embarking on to bring the guys with knowledge to our shores....
Wonder what woodfiring is? Well, raw, bisque fired clay is put into the massive kiln and fed constantly - and I mean about every 10 mins, with wood for 3 DAYS! The temperature is extreme. The ash in the kiln makes a glaze, and your raw surface becomes lustrous, sexy and totally unpredicatable. It's exhilarating.
Andy placed simple block shapes around the kiln to see how they would turn out. I created 7 antlers. One for each of the 6-year phases that my body has regenerated through. And one for the body I will begin on my 42nd birthday in June.
These 2 pieces are the only ones we returned home with. Everything else we created during the 3 months either went into collections or was exchanged with other artists we'd worked with for pieces.
Some of our work remains in a show at Handmade in America, in Asheville; namely my flocked antler vase (you view it with 3D glasses to make the flocked pattern dance before your eyes).
It has a butt hole under the tail. Just in case you decide to put flowers in it, it will pee all over your furniture!
And Andy's porcelain 'Vernon; Count Rainier'.
And Andy spent his last two days, doing what he knows and loves best, creating a fabulous graffiti wall with fellow artist Matt Gifford.
Once finished, people chose their squares to have cut out, to take home.
And so you can see, with our Kickstarter and Arts Council backing, not only have we returned home with an expanded knowledge, but the desire to share it with our fellow artists here and to create facilities that will have an impact on ceramicists here for many years to come.
From the bottome ouf our hearts, THANK YOU. x
As the saying goes, "I've been up and down like a bride's nightie" (to the south of Ireland) just lately. It would appear that the people in the south of this beautiful isle are liking the artistic path that I tread.
Firstly, Dubh, the show that took me to New York's 5th Avenue last October, has come home to roost at the Oliver Sears Gallery in Dublin.
The setting is great: a gentrified house hosting beautiful black objects. Sadly, the Steinway piano didn't travel back with my piece, but curator Brian Kennedy placed my installation to echo the sweeping lines of Vladimir Kagan's chair. An honour to be side by side with a piece from such a respected designer.
The show is on until the 15th March. Go knock the huge door and see some finely crafted pieces from US and Irish creatives.
Secondly, my foray to Dublin on the 1st March will see me sitting on the ethics comittee for Trust Me, I'm an Artist.
I have the honour of being one of the panel deciding the fate of Anna Dumitriu's pitch to build a lab in a gallery. The debate will be filmed before a live audience at the Science Gallery, Trinity. Tickets are free but must be booked in advance. Event 6pm-8pm.
Then thirdly, just a few days later, on the 7th March, FOOD FIGHT hits town. I'm really looking forward to this one (as for once I'm just a spectator).
My fabulous husband, MyTarPit, will be livepainting and exhibiting his new body of work, Cereal Killers.
If you've ever wondered what dangerous cereal looks like, then get yourself down to the Cathedral Studios.
These are just his works in progress. He's just putting his finishing touches to his paintings as well as his limited edition boxes with prints and badges as I type.
There is a fourthly and a fifthly, but I'm going to save them for my next blog because the organisers are still, well, organising them. But rest assured, my little sculptor's fingers are busy, busy, busy.
The rubbed-back textured surface, the spray-painted lace, the handmade paper roses, the ribbon-tied branches, the paper bird. I was happy with the minute details.
but why-oh-why, did I not step back at the first stage?
My spray painting at the start was as ropey as an 80's espadrille. I let myself down badly. And in front of the public too. But I learnt a massive lesson. Don't get caught up in the tiny details without stepping back to take a look the bigger picture.
You know me - can't resist a chance to mix different craft techniques with a bit of science, so when my mate Sally asked me to make a piece for her QR-3D project, I jumped at the chance.
QR codes are traditionally a two-dimensional device used by barcode readers and camera phones consisting of smaller black squares on a larger square white background. The information contained within usually directs code readers to a website, but can also be used to hide text messages or other information.
I chose to take the QR code for my blog, and that of MyTarPit, and just as we are joined in matrimony, joined them. Then used them in one layer of a four-colour separation screenprint on velvet.
And embellished it with vintage beads, stamens and buttons from the 40s and 50s.
The result was an edition of two headboards.
Each slightly different, entitled. Marital code: 1 and 2.
The project is open to public involvement. Sally explains, “I hope people will be inspired to find out what QR codes are and what they do. I want to see how people experiment with different sorts of textiles to try and create QR codes that function and will direct people to a website. I’d love to see all sorts of people involved, those who love the internet and digital technology, or craft and making, people who just love pattern or secret codes, there are so many appealing things about it. It would be great to think that through this, more people will become familiar with how QR codes can magnify the power of the internet. For example, to help promote their small business, find other like minded makers, or be inspired to try something new.”
The project is open to everyone, people who make for fun or professionally. To get involved visit www.qr-3d.weebly.com Simply choose your website, turn it into a QR code (instructions are provided on the website) and recreate it with textiles. Then add it to the online gallery by July 31st. Full details of how to do this are on the website. A guest panel of craft and digital professionals will choose pieces from the online gallery to go into the exhibition held at Cornerhouse, Manchester, UK, in autumn 2011.
I've been working on some love tokens for a show we're putting on.
I Caught Your Eye.
Your Kiss Is Infectious.
A Simple Love Token
All are going to be on sale at our pop-up gallery on Saturday night.
Firsty? I hear you ask. What's that?
The seaside town of Bangor is a smallish place, often over shadowed by Belfast.
But do you know, it's got THE most creative bunch of people living here.
Thirsty for a lively arts scene, we thought it was about time we had a proper voice, just like all those places me and MyTarPit are lucky enough to visit on our travels.
So along with a few like-minded souls, we garnered our creative minds and set up a group back in October.
We have over 70 members already! They're out there busy networking, skill sharing and promoting each other.
And our first show is on Saturday, with 30 of us taking part - many of whom are established international artists.
If you're in Ireland, come along. If you're not, find us on facebook and check out our albums. Join us virtually. Or better still, set up your own group. Take the creative minds of Bangor as inspiration to get out there and make things happen. You never know where it might lead......
Inga Hamilton is proud to say that diversified technology company 3M support her art and community work by providing 3M 4251 Maintenance Free Gas/Vapour and Particulate Respirators for those involved in her projects.