Award winning Australian writer John Hughes responds to the work of Tasmanian ceramicist Neil Hoffmann. This creative non-fiction essay brings us into a world not usually associate with ceramic art and ranges from critical theory to a personal response using literary devices. Here is an excerpt from Thirteen Ways of Looking at Fire:
‘No human hand could have created this sculpture because no hand, however innocent, can escape the fetters of its style. The object is there, yes, it has been made, yet whichever way you look at it the question remains: who (or should that be what?) did the making? The sculptor who made this object had fifty hands, each attached to a different mind, or no mind at all. The object is sculpted, yes, but with no eyesight colouring the hand. We can talk only of heat and survival.’
Hana Novotna from the Czech Republic reports on her PhD research into glazes for porcelain in antiquity.
During the years 1985 – 1991 I studied at Academy of Arts Architecture & Design in Prague, in 1990 I took an exchange scholarship at University of Industrial Arts in Helsinki. After seven years of focused work in atelier between years 1991 and 1998, I got to work at Faculty of Fine Arts, Brno University of Technology, staying there until 2001. In 2001, I also taught in Scenography Studio, Janáček Academy of Music and Performing Arts, Brno. From 2005 to 2011, I taught at Ceramics and Porcelain Atelier at Academy of Arts, Architecture & Design in Prague. In 2013, I resumed my teaching activities, this time at Department of Arts, Faculty Of Education, Masaryk University in Brno and also commenced my doctoral studies. Since the 90’s, I have been holding exhibitions both home and abroad. My work is displayed in collections of Czech and international museums and galleries. I am a member of „Académie internationale de la céramique“ located in Geneva. During 2014 – 2015, I have been working on my Doctoral thesis at Nanjing University, Nanjing, China as a participant of the EU EXPERTS4ASIA programme.
Australian ceramicist Sandy Lockwood, who is currently completing her PhD research at Wollongong University writes an outstanding and insightful article on her research:
‘Clay is an incredibly responsive material. It has a unique ability to respond to touch from our hands. Tools are often not necessary in manipulating it into objects. When I throw, stretch, roll and push clay it responds directly and intimately and sometimes suggests what the next move might be. Making, for me is a kind of conversation with clay. Much of what I do arises from the direct interaction between my body and the material. I have come to notice subtle nuances and suggestions that can lead in unexpected directions. My work is material evidence of these conversations.To this making process I bring my attraction to and engagement with forms, textures and colours found in weathered and worn objects and in nature. Some questions that have arisen for me have been, “Why I am so drawn to surfaces that show the action of time? How do these responses relate to the surfaces I produce when I am working with and firing clay? Is woodfiring and salt glazing a form of weathering? Do its results relate to the weathering of ancient objects?’
Other writers in Issue #1 include Christopher Allen, senior art critic for The Australian newspaper, UK ceramicist Matthew Blakely and internationally acclaimed Australian novelist, Nikki Gemmel.