Friday, March 19, 2010

Clay Symposium Round-up

I had hoped to do a bit more comprehensive blog on the other 6 presenters that I haven't really had time or space to even mention, but I'm going to try to finish off my own personal experience at the Clay Symposium by wrapping it up today.  It's pretty hard to take in 9 workshops in 1 day and everyone was certainly trying to make the most of their time.  So here are my last impressions of this year's Symposium...
Kathy Venter's workshop was right in the middle of the common space and so I would walk by to catch her progress on these life-sized figures several times throughout the day.  If you know anything about working in clay, making a life-sized free-standing figure of a woman in clay and firing it is no easy feat.  There are no joins here- it's no puzzle that you can pull apart the head, torso and legs and then put it back together. She was fired completely as one piece and getting her not to crack or blow up for that matter is truly remarkable!  I didn't catch much about the why's of Kathy's surface choice- perhaps it's a nod to Abstract Expressionism that she splatters coloured slip onto her figures after she's so meticulously sculpted theme realistically.  I guess that was the draw-back to a 'walk by' approach of a workshop on my part- I didn't really sit down to ask those burning questions like I should have. 

Now there were in fact some male ceramic artists presenting at the Symposium: Les Manning, Don Hutchinson, Peter Powning, Robert Barron and Jack Troy.  There were a number of really great workshops that I missed out on.  Some tag-team throwing.  A great discussion on the Aesthetics of Ceramics by Les Manning and others.  Huge 'manly' pots getting thrown- you know the 40-50 lbs of clay getting centered all at once kind.  The kind of pots that would basically throw my wrists and back into the early stages of Arthritis.  I would have loved to have taken this all in. 
However, what I did get to listen to was the keynote speaker, Jack Troy's talk on Aesthetics at the end of the Symposium.  If you ever, ever have the chance to hear this man speak- drop everything and do it!  Here is someone who's ability to weave story-telling, poetry, some 50 (really rough number here on my part) years of clay experience into a captivating and awe-inspiring talk on what it means to work in clay.  He asked such poignant questions- such as  'What was your first memorable aesthetic moment?  When did you first notice the beauty of a shape, design, pattern for the sake of it's beauty?  What was it about that moment that changed you?'  His poetry was amazing- probably more so because he was speaking to the converted here- a wack of us clay-o-philes who are crazy enough to be covered in clay day in and day out.  But seriously, his talk was really a highlight and hopefully there will be a u-tube video that someone puts up so it can inspire more than just those of us that were fortunate enough to be there!
There's my wrap-up.  Hopefully there are others who are blogging about their experience of the Symposium.  Thanks for hanging in there with me this week and taking the time to read and comment on my posts!  Have a beautiful weekend!

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