Artist : Mel Robson

Based in Brisbane, Australia, Mel Robson's ceramics combine art and craft in a way that you rarely see. How often do you see conceptual ceramics out there?

Keep Calm and Carry On (coat of arms), 2008, slipcast porcelain, 20cm x 34cm
Every year Mel's work is more powerful than the next. I found her work via Pinterest, via Jealous Curator. I can't believe I remembered that. These days it's so hard to track the endless paths one takes on the internet.

Fortitude, 2006, slipcast porcelain with decals, 10cm x 5cm
I was first drawn in by her maps, you know me. I love the image transfer but what makes it such a powerful piece is the translucency with the map in reverse shining through on the outside. Beautiful. Her ceramics are well crafted, thoughtfully detailed and very clever. Her series Keep Calm and Carry On addresses stories she heard from the women in her family who experienced war time. It addresses what it must have been like for them while they went on with their daily lives while the men were off at war.

Weeping Willow (Keep Calm and Carry On series), 2008, found ceramic plates (water jet cut),
8cm x 10cm each 
A very successful series and beautifully made. Water jet cut, eh? Hmmm, the ideas are flowing!

Shot Gun, 2008, ceramic plate (water jet cut), 95cm x 60cm
Where to stop? I can't! The Absence of Objects installation was inspired by the heritage collections one finds in libraries. So many stories that have been forgotten are saved here. Mel calls them "little doorways into the past". Individually, the pieces are powerful in their own right.

Spoon Works, 2007, slipcast porcelain 4cm x 11cm each
But seen as a whole, they make a powerful statement.

The Absence of Objects (detail), 2006, slipcast porcelain with decals 

Fight and flight (detail), 2007, slipcast porcelain with decals, 11cm x 11cm (set) 

See her blog Feffakookan (named after a german biscuit her nana used to make) to see lots more of Mel's work. Enjoy!


Work table : Land Grabbing Series

The land grabbing series is underway (there's got to be a better name). In the meantime, all of my Foreclosure quilts are now shipped off to new homes or are in upcoming shows. I started my clay class last week and have learned a tremendous amount already. Last night we experimented with slab construction. I handed over my first pieces for firing so we'll see if they turn out. In the meantime, there is a lot of experimenting going on in my studio as well. Here's a peek.

Above are pieces my daughter and I made on our first day in the 'clay' studio. Of course, there will be textiles as part of this series as well.

Ceramics will be a quick learning curve for me as I tend to throw myself into my work 200% once I have an idea. I already have a lot of clay tools in my studio including some of my mom's from thirty plus years ago.

Both of my parents were artists and made pottery. Here's one of my favorite pictures of my dad hard at work. I love the pipe hanging out of his mouth while he works.

In between clay building, I'm developing the series and honing down on the subject matter with lots of sketches, studies and writing.

I love this moment in the process, when the idea is there but it needs refining and direction. It gives me the chance to study the idea in different scales from the tiny ...

Oil Palm Seed. Image by Rhett A. Butler.
To the global scale ...

Oil Palm clear cutting in the Ketipang district of Indonesia's West
Kalimantan province, July 5, 2010. Image courtesy of REUTERS/Craig Palinggi
It will all come together in the end as an intimate yet powerful statement about industrial agriculture and land grabbing. I hope to share some writing about the work with you next week but in the meantime, there are lots of other ceramicists to share with you so stay tuned.


Artist : Paula Greif

What better way to kick off a ceramics binge on my blog than my featuring Paula Greif's work. It was Greif's story behind her ceramics that instantly drew me into her work.

Photo by Anita Calero and Gemma Comas.
She was simply inspired to make everything she uses in her home by hand after reading a book about Alexander Calder, who did the same. Why not?

Pottery Paula made for her home in 2011. Photo by Paula Greif.
And that's exactly what she set out to do. Nothing like a mission to light a fire under your pants. That's kind of how I'm feeling these days so I can really relate to that kind of passion.

Paula's pottery on her kitchen shelves. 
Photo bAnita Calero and Gemma Comas.
Lots and lots of making, producing, experimenting, trying things out, messing around and having fun. Art should be all that, right? Paula's got it in spades.

Photo by Paula Greif.
I love these rows of spoons. So many ideas being developed here. I love the looseness and confidence in exploring.

Photo by Paula Greif.
And it all ends up on the table. I'm obsessed lately with table settings as I work on formulating this new series on industrial agriculture. How to present the work? So many directions to follow. The answer will become clearer with time and my own exploration.

Photo by Anita Calero and Gemma Comas.
In the meantime, I started my clay class this week and had a great time. I learned a tremendous amount from the teacher (who is Japanese, love that) and was surrounded by a lot of talented students. Soon, I'll have something of my own work to show you! In the meantime, enjoy more of Paula's work on her website, her tumbler page which has lots of images of her work and a feature on Remodelista.


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