Wednesday, 16 October 2013

From Generic to Organic

Sometimes I am jealous when I look at Facebook and see my ceramic friends with neatly arranged shelves of duplicated perfection after a day in the studio. 20 mugs, 20 bowls, 20 cylinders. They must know what they are doing I think. They have a plan or even luckier they have orders to fill. They have trudged around the planet and found someone who will stock their product and once someone likes their product, word spreads around and before you know it, their stock is in every shop and gallery to the exclusion of all others. They are busy people and they are admired for their industry.

I am not that person. I am industrious in a different sort of way. I came to ceramics through painting and drawing. I kind of liked the idea of making objects to use in the world but still approach it from the basis of problem solving and expression, not mass production.
Organic juicer

I read somewhere that Alexander Calder of mobile sculpture fame had the intention of making everything in his home himself. I don’t know if it true and I don’t know if he did but it is an idea that has always appealed to me. It’s pretty cool to sit down to breakfast with a mug of coffee, bowl of cereal or piece of toast on a plate that you or someone you know has made. Growing the food to go into the bowl of stirfry or soup is an extension of this intention.
21st cake

lamp from Two Layers of Cells hand coloured with prisma colour pencils

It is difficult now to personalise your space as something different from everybody else who lives in your neighbourhood. All the shopping centres stock the same items in chains that spread across the globe. Homes on housing estates are mirror images of each other with different colourways or from the same but limited palette of building materials in different variations and the landscaping is generic as well. What on earth does this do to the imaginations of children growing up in these places?

 I taught in a school on one of these fancy created estates in the early 80’s. All the homes were the same age and so was the local recreation area. All the trees were the same age. There were no trees to climb, because they hadn’t developed enough and everyone’s gardens were made of the same stuff with easy maintenance paving and pebble rock landscaping. It was difficult to hold engaging discussions in the classroom because all references in the children’s lives were related to Disney characters, or other cartoonified literature squeezed through the box at them. 
Pooh Shepard1928.jpgWikipedia
There is just no comparison with the original.
 I only stayed there for about 6 months and remember absolute despair after reading the children some story as a prompt for creative writing about hiding places. The idea was to describe a safe place to hide where they could be themselves to practice singing or some sort of imaginative play. Every child described the same little drain pipe tunnel in the playground down the street!
They will all be turning 42 this year, the year of the midlife crisis. Douglas Adams was right when he said the answer to Life the Universe and Everything was 42. I hope they all have a life renewal and crave the individual and handmade environment!
My children’s wardrobes were almost entirely handmade until I couldn’t get away with it anymore and I look back with pride at their photographs in all their home made glory. Soft furnishings, home decor items, landscaping, cake decorating, handmade pasta and home baked bread (from base ingredients, not breadmix!) How far can we go in creating and personalising our world so that big corporations don’t own us and dictate to us how to live our lives and make our culture generic?

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

The Island of House and a Limited World View

I have been on my island of House for 2 weeks waiting for the tide to go out.

Taurine my friends. Google its amazing eye healing properties and seek medical advice.

So, stuck on the island of House I have contemplated a life based on input squeezed through pipes to my island. Never a better cure!
And never a better way to make me cranky!
Snippets of the bigger picture from here and a mixed tape for you to scramble in your brain.
Seems there is no end to the wealth of rare earths available underneath Afghanistan so watch US withdrawal slow down considerably as they try to "assist" Afghanistan to make a mining lead recovery. China is waiting in the wings with "off the shelf "rare earth mining expertise and they haven't been at war in Afghanistan. Hmm wonder how that will play out? Rare earths are wonders like lithium (as in li-ion batteries and brain meds) and praseodymium (strong magnets) and erbium (pink glaze and also rose coloured glasses) and lots of other "iums". Special thanks to Amanda Vanstone's program on Radio National.
22year olds who run around wiping their noses on their sweaters and spitting every few metres and have the biggest PR machine in Australia. They are passionate and love what they are doing and they get paid a lot of money, say the same things over and over in mumbly speech and have lots of other people say things about the things they say over and over- Yes footballers!. So deserving of all that money and free publicity.
IPCC climate report. Well thank goodness climate change has gone away in Australia because we have dispensed with the carbon tax and that wind that blew rooftops off last night in Melbourne was just seasonal variation.
A new vision of Melbourne based on roads...

because our State government doesn't believe in climate change or maybe they do and they just don't believe in the future.
Refugees adrift belonging nowhere.
It's so easy to fall into despair and wonder what is the point of even trying.
 I saw this strange item on Pinterest and it filled me with intrigue.
Is there some place on this planet where somebody believes that technology is going to stay unevolved for long enough that it is worth making a piece of wooden furniture to house it? Or is it a temptation for hipsters to believe the world can conform to the 1960s if we just click our little red shoes and wish? Whatever the motivation it rings true with something a friend said the other day about our world globalising and yet homogenising so that it is difficult to find anything different from one part of town to the next. It also rings true with this delightful and insightful speech from the amazing Tim Minchin.
So do what you do well and keep your eyes open (or at least hang onto the handrail)