Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Collaboration with Margaret Dodd

In late 2007 I was contacted by Adelaide artist Margaret Dodd who was planning an exhibtion of her distinctive cars in 2008 in collaboration with other artists and was looking for someone to help her with porcelain casting. In the 1970's and 80's Margaret created sculptures of Holden cars which became famous beyond the world of ceramics as they commented on womens roles and Australian identity, her most iconic work being Bridal Holden which is held in the collection of the South Australian Museum. More recently Margaret has been venturing into 3D animation and modelling and incorporating light into her new works which she wanted to make from cast porcelain. As I had previously made a range of porcelain lights and had plenty of experience with casting fine ceramic forms I was very excited to be involved in the project.

Margaret and I worked together over a period of 4-5 months grappling with the many variables involved in casting large complex forms with a porcelain slip fine enough to be translucent. Thickness and viscosity of the slip, timing of the pour, when to turn the moulds, when to open them, slumping, sagging and surface treatment were all issues we had to deal with as well as the unpredictability of our Adelaide weather. I'm not sure how many cars we made in the end, for each of the original forms made by Margaret a mould was made by a local specialist then cast in several other clay bodies as well as the porcelain. Alongside this process Margaret worked with collaborators Ian Mobbray (on cast glass pieces), Pru Morrison ( who decorated the cars with her wonderful surreal imagery in her colourful terra sigillata) and Mirek Krejci (on the computer animation). The exhibition was held at the Jamfactory, Adelaide in July - September 2008 and then went to the Ray Hughes Gallery in Sydney later that year.

Birds with Bling!

Since I started working from my studio at home I've been thinking about the birds in the garden...mainly because they don't give me much choice, pigeons land on the tin roof and stomp up and down like a marching band. Kookaburras frequently let rip with a laugh that sounds like a personal criticism and magpies compete to sing the loudest in the garden or chase the dogs when they get too close. So as many of our Australian birds have a such audacious personalities that could compete with any Fringe performer it made sense to start some work which talked about this.

I began by making some simplified clay models of Australian birds and then made moulds from them, as mould making is a process that I find far more entertaining in the planning than the execution by the time I'd finished, my initial enthusiasm for the project had subsided...

...about 1 year later... I began to decorate them! I've always loved decoration, especially Arts and Crafts, William Morris, De Morgan, Moorcroft and all that, so I used some of the designs as a starting point and kept going with underglazes, onglaze enamels and lustre until I had blinged them to the max!

Here are some of my first results, I'm working on a second batch now and refining the decoration - I think, I'm not exactly sure where its going yet but at the moment I have an urge to go all the way with additions of feathers and false eyelashes - maybe..