It sounds almost intolerably corny, and indeed I cringe even as my fingers press the keys, but Clay Gulgong 2016 was, truly, a week that changed my life.
Recently escaped from the hustle of a City lifestyle and its multitudinous soul-depleting-wallet-draining strings, I had no idea what to expect or indeed what Gulgong even was (other than a very small town with a pub on every delightful corner). So new to the world of ceramics as to be almost wide-eyed, I found it a formative period of thought expansion and trajectory solidification; this was my plot I thought, these (mad, wild) people and this (amazing, challenging) material.
In 2018, Gulgong’s twisting main street with its high sandstone curb stones buttressing elegant awnings over colourfully painted - if slightly faded – shops, seems to resound with the charming heraldic cry of the gold-rush wealth that was. A town of roughly 2,500 people situated about 300km north west of Sydney, Gulgong is generally a sweet and fairly quiet town but today it fairly hums with the activity of Clay Gulgong. The town bows to this incoming tide of 500 potters with grace; the windows of the shops are given over and made into little galleries showcasing the ceramic wares of attendees while each of the five pubs chatters with merriment of potters greeting one another anew.
I’ve never encountered anything like the sense of camaraderie that infuses Gulgong, the very real sense that we are all sharing in something truly special and much bigger than any of us.