Artist: John Stezaker

John Stezaker’s work re-examines the various relationships to the photographic image: as documentation of truth, purveyor of memory, and symbol of modern culture. In his collages, Stezaker appropriates images found in books, magazines, and postcards and uses them as ‘readymades’. Through his elegant juxtapositions, Stezaker adopts the content and contexts of the original images to convey his own witty and poignant meanings.

In his Marriage series, Stezaker focuses on the concept of portraiture, both as art historical genre and public identity. Using publicity shots of classic film stars, Stezaker splices and overlaps famous faces, creating hybrid ‘icons’ that dissociate the familiar to create sensations of the uncanny. Coupling male and female identity into unified characters, Stezaker points to a disjointed harmony, where the irreconciliation of difference both complements and detracts from the whole. In his correlated images, personalities (and our idealisations of them) become ancillary and empty, rendered abject through their magnified flaws and struggle for visual dominance.

In using stylistic images from Hollywood’s golden era, Stezaker both temporally and conceptually engages with his interest in Surrealism. Placed in contemporary context, his portraits retain their aura of glamour, whilst simultaneously operating as exotic ‘artefacts’ of an obsolete culture. Similar to the photos of ‘primitivism’ published in George Bataille’s Documents, Stezaker’s portraits celebrate the grotesque, rendering the romance with modernism equally compelling and perverse.

Question: 3) Answering a Question a day for the BCPG Retail Jury!

3) Please explain your choice of materials and how they are appropriate to the intent of the pieces, both in purpose and visual appearance. 

All the materials I have come to use are chosen simply because they are what work and what is available in all practicality to the North American potter. After years of developing this Everyday Ungulates I have experimented and tested various clays, glazes, pigments, kilns and tools. From mixing and matching and altering I have come to use the present day materials to make these present day pots. As a scientist I am always seeking better compounds and processes to liberate the my artist self. Potters are of course both Artists and Scientists. The intriguing technical processes of chemical mixingand calculation and exposing mixtures to different environments and temperatures overtime is undeniably Science. The problem solving in design, process and intuition is Art. The two married together in making is what makes Craft. And so by this dichotomy it how my materials are chosen. I use three various plastic fine throwing clays all to yield slightly different texture and color, one standardized slip modified for color variation and three clear glazes for various functions. With the constant progression that is an Artist’s prerogative and quest of a conscious maker my materials will continue to change. I am forever trying to source and acquiesce more common materials mined closer to home and acquired by minimally invasive means. The Science and Artist and Maker will continue to battle is out for esthetic’s sake.

Opportunity: Slocan Chinese Ceramic Talk

Noam Ash shares adventure in China at Slocan Park Hall

Where did you go on your first trip abroad? On Thursday, October 20 beginning at 7 p.m. at the Slocan Park Hall, join Noam Ash as he shares his first great adventure at A Step Into China.

This local studio potter recently spent four months in the northeast section of China. One of his goals was to access their rich and ancient ceramic history.

Instead he discovered an aesthetically wondrous, if troubling landscape characterized by rubble, demolition and construction as far as the eye can see.

While visually fascinating he discovered that the landscape and culture was largely unapproachable to the traveler.

Join Ash as he shares his experiences and pictures from his adventure.

Admission to this evening talk is a donation to the Slocan Food Bank. If planning to attend please give Slocan Valley recreation a call at 250-226-0008 so they can put a chair out for you.

Artist: Cathy Franzi

It is always so nice to see people you have bumped into through life making it happen. I remember the last critique in regards to Cathy’s work at Australian National University so well. I remember holding her small intricate scraffito containers, like a seed in my hand. Cathy was so connected to Australian flora. I got glimpses of seeing her work things out, trying to figure out how she could say what she needed in its regards through the making of pottery.

I am glad to see that her body of work done and her goals met. As she says:

My proposal was as follows: research into a linocut style sgraffito technique and suitable form to express Australian flora and the impact of environmental degradation.  My journey was to take each of these components and to explore them deeply; intellectually, technically and creatively.

I have stumbled across an article written by her that explains and concludes her time spent at ANU. It is eloquently written with sentences like:

Being in the bush can be a simpler state of being. It also reveals a distance from the human built context and environment. It shows that that the human world is fragile and impermanent and the natural world is complete, bigger and self sustaining, or something like that.

It pains me to think that we never talked about the wild extremes of our countries. Especially since her sentiments towards nature are so akin to my own. Being here at tower and simply watching the trees, birds, and bears all day in isolation draws me towards her work. At the time I was even experimenting with australian fauna imagery on my pots through transfers. I was trying to wrap my head around a dichotomy of cultural icons, Australia vs. Canada. I always came back to nature and landscape. Needless to say the article is worth a read. So do so here.

Artist: “Who makes this teapot?”

I recently received an email that said “Thanks” and had this attached:

I can see the teapot in  my minds eye. A supple matt teapot in green bright yet soft tones, maybe a bit of yellow accents. Certainly elegant and organic and the strainer mimics the elegance. I think it was in a ceramics monthly a couple of years ago. I know I say it in print near the top of the page. Who makes it?????!!!!! Help us out here.

Artist: Karen Burk

Karen Burk is the Head of Studio at The New Brunswick College of Craft in Fredericton. She is a hard lady to find images of, probably because she is busy teaching and creating. I attended a seminar given by here in 2008 a Surfacing Symposium at the Shadbolt Center for the Arts. She broke pattern down into manageable and tangible bits by sharing her process. She also stressed the importance of a sketchbook- something that I have come to use greatly. At the time of her demonstration she was making large kayak shaped vessels- funerary jars for her and her husband.  The two kayak every day and both wish to be put in pots and out in the forest buried shallowly in the dirt. As a potter I am very very moved by the funerary jars of many cultures and the intimacy of a pot and a person. Whether ceramic vessels be buried with the dead filled with preserves for the after life or a dish symbolically broken to set the departed’s spirit free I am intrigued. I am not sure if my recent reunion with my kayak or the Columbian funerary vessels I came across this year made me recall her work. I am sure Karen’s passion for simplicity and compassion for tradition and process are something her students benefit greatly from.

Click the photo above to see my photos from the symposium.