Exhibition: Gail Nichols at the Sabbia Gallery, Australia


Gail and the Sabbia are both lovely and impressive. Who wants to venture to Australia for this one?



Museum/Gallery/Exposition: All play such a vital role in the lives of artists and art lovers. This section explores what they are all about and what is going on.

Exhibition: Hybrid Places

Hybrid Places by Janet DeBoos (accomplished head of the ANU ceramics department) newest body of work  on exhibition at the Sabbia Gallery in Sydney Australia. Check it out!

She uses “iconic imagery from the high point of Chinese porcelain decoration, colour & line from the desert and bush of Australia (Ernabella terra sigillata, Australian flora) and that most ancient of techniques from the ceramics lexicon (sgraffito or ‘scratching’) to attempt to create a hybrid pottery that is both contemporary and timeless, culturally specific and yet borderless.”

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Artist: Pipin Drysdale

Thank you Carole Epp, the all-knowing writer of Musing About Mud an upstanding resource for potters and those that love ceramics! She steered me to Pipin Drysadale’s website. Pipin makes the exquisite bowls (pictured below) that I so sketchily drew in the last post. I have now committed the name ‘Pipin Drysadale’ to memory.  This post has been a pitiful display of a norm in my life: remembering pots not people. I also remember landscapes not names. Something about Pipin’s bowls touch me on a molecular level. The way they play with light could never be conveyed in photograph. Please seek these pots out. They will mesmerize you. Having wandered around Australia seeking out pottery it is any wonder the name was lost on me. The landscaped bowls belong there. They belong to that land just as the bark dot and line maps of the Aborigines do. If you were to dig one out of the ground the first thought you might think is that it is a thing of nature- delicate and desolate- perfect.

I need some Aussi inspiration!

Maybe you do too.

I had to pass by this gaggle, murder, bunch, gang of cockatoos on my bike ride to Uni everyday the crows of Australia they sure were intimidating. Just in case you were wondering what to call what, check this helpful table out (of course cockatoo isn’t on the list).

Birds in general A flock of birds, a dissimulation of birds, a volery of birds
Bitterns A siege of bitterns, a sedge of bitterns
Chickens A peep of chickens
Choughs A chattering of choughs
Coots A cover of coots, a raft of coots
Cormorants A flight of cormorants
Cranes A sedge of cranes
Crows A congress of crows, a murder of crows
Curlews A herd of curlews
Doves A dule of doves, a flight of doves, a dole of doves, a cote of coves, a piteousness of doves
Ducks A paddling of ducks, a raft of ducks, a team of ducks, a dopping of ducks
Dunlin A fling of dunlin
Eagles A convocation of eagles
Eggs A clutch of eggs
Falcons A cast of falcons
Finches A charm of finches, a trembling of finches
Flamingos A flamboyance of flamingos
Geese A gaggle of geese, a skein of geese
Goldfinches A charm of goldfinches
Goshawks A flight of goshawks
Grouse A brace of grouse, a covey of grouse
Guillemots A bazaar of guillemots
Gulls A colony of gulls
Hawks A cast of hawks, a kettle of hawks, a cast of hawks
Hens (chickens) A brood of hens
Herons A siege of herons
Hummingbirds A charm of hummingbirds, a troubling of hummingbirds, a hover of hummingbirds
Jays A band of jays, party of jays
Kingfishers A concentration of kingfishers
Lapwings A deceit of lapwings
Larks An exaltation of larks
Loons A raft of loons
Magpies A tiding of magpies
Mallards A sord of mallards, a flush of mallards, a puddling of mallards
Nightingales A watch of nightingales
Owls A parliament of owls, a wisdom of owls
Parrots A company of parrots
Partridges A covey of partridges
Peacocks An ostentation of peacocks, a muster of peacocks
Penguins A colony of penguins, huddles of penguins, a pride of penguins
Pheasants A bouquet of pheasants, a covey of pheasants, a nye of pheasants, a nide of pheasants, a nest of pheasants
Quail A bevy of quail, a covey of quail
Pelicans A squadron of pelicans
Plovers A congregation of plovers, a wing of plovers, a leash of plovers
Ravens A conspiracy of ravens, an unkindness of ravens, a constable of ravens
Rooks A building of rooks, a parliament of rooks
Snipe A walk of snipe, a wisp of snipe
Sparrows A host of sparrows, a quarrel of sparrows
Starlings A murmuration of starlings
Storks A mustering of storks
Swallows A flight of swallows
Swans A ballet of swans, a bevy of swans, a herd of swans, a whiteness of swans
Teal A spring of teal
Turtledoves A pitying of turtledoves
Turkeys A rafter of turkeys, a muster of turkeys
Waterfowl A plump of waterfowl
Woodcock A fall of Woodcock
Woodpeckers A descent of woodpeckers

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: Dr. Gail Nichols

Where to start…. Dr.Gail Nichol’s reputation resounds in all ceramic communities in the world as the person who took the Soda Fire movement of the 70’s and 80’s to a whole new level. She is an American gal who re-rooted in Australia, with her husband to raise a family. That is where she stumbled across pottery, across salt firing and eventually soda firing.

Here is her biggest web presence is at Craft ACT, a great organization to check out if you’re ever in the capital of Oz. Here is her Artist Statement, it is always nice to hear what an artist has to say for themselves. Before going to Australia National University on exchange to learn about soda firing I found it was shrouded in a foggy mist of uncertainty. There isn’t much to find as way of information on it (that is certainly changing today and with the publication of some books you can order and on the net if you know where to look… you’ll find enough, but you certainly have to know where to look). Here it is:

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Artist’s statement

I make generously rounded, eccentric vessels, thrown and manipulated, with lush dimpled surfaces inviting tactile as well as visual responses. The surfaces on these vessels have evolved through years of technical research with soda glazing, development of materials and processes, and investigation of glaze microstructure. The research was done to satisfy a curiosity that was largely aesthetic: a desire to work directly with clay and fire, and to achieve close integration of form and surface. The subtle interplay of technique, materials and aesthetics is an essential part of my art practice.

I am intrigued by the sculptural contrast between closed and open forms, and firing effects on exposed and shadowed clay surfaces. I enjoy playing with impressions of volume and movement. Some forms are seemingly stretched from the inside out and blown up like a balloon; others appear to dance in slow graceful curves or lively waves. For the past several years I have lived and worked at the foot of Mt. Budawang near Braidwood, New South Wales. Moving from a Sydney urban environment to a 120 acre rural property highlighted my sense of space, and consequently, of form. The gently curved yet complex and rugged terrain of the Budawang range is reflected in my fascination with form and its interaction with surface.

My aim as an artist is simply to create beautiful objects: not just pretty things to look at, but a powerful beauty that quietly overwhelms, moves, and reveals some of what human beings are capable of, beyond the ordinariness of existence.

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I was able to carpool to Sydney and attended the opening of Shades of Mass and Form at the beautiful Sabbia Gallery. (See pictures to left) Here is the artist card from the show:

This week’s posts will all be about soda firing and therefore Gail’s name will pop up then and “What is Soda Firing” for a quick explanation. Tomorrow check out the kiln I made this summer, on Friday some beautiful pots full of warmth for this cold fall and on Sunday a look at some books on soda firing!