Hello everyone! This report is being written in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, India, from a hotel room in a converted nineteenth-century Indian Mansion.
So many wonderful things have been happening in the Western Australian ceramic world.
Progress is being made in connecting with keynote speakers and demonstrators for the Ceramic Trienalle; the MUD event with Holly O’Meehan was a rousing success, as was the studio visit with Gary Zeck. It's wonderful to see so many new faces at these events. We also had online meetings with our regional ceramics representatives, where a number of workshops are planned for later in the year. The world of ceramics is blossoming.
One of the things that I look to whilst performing my role as CAAWA president is CAAWA’s seven Aims and Objectives. I often re-read them as a reminder and guide as to our direction and philosophy.
They provide some clarity for commencing action. Three that seem relevant to me at the moment are:
2) To raise the profile of clay within the community - culturally, educationally, politically and socially.
(3) To encourage the sharing of ideas, activities and information pertaining to ceramics and to develop strategies and structures for their implementation.
(7) To liaise with other Australian and international ceramic associations in order to develop a comprehensive vision for the practices.
Two weeks ago, I met with Debbie Pryor, the CEO of The Australian Ceramics Association and Vicki Grima, former CEO, to sign papers at the bank that will provide seed funding for CAAWA to set up the Triennale website and commence our call-out for papers and proposals for the Triennale.
This past week I delivered a class for the International Baccalaureate Organisation in Indore, India, with teachers at an International School. It was a delightful experience. It is always fascinating embedding oneself into a different cultural matrix and seeing what happens! I love working with Indian teachers; they seem to be usually of considerable intellect and accomplishment and incredibly enthusiastic about being part of an international organization, and so respectful and keen to learn. My ‘Learning Diversity and Inclusivity‘ workshop aimed to look at differences and learning challenges as opportunities for learning for all and roundly reject the ‘tragedy of disability’ model. I used my best educated ‘how now brown cow’ clearly enunciated English because the Indian accent is so different. They seemed to understand me, and we had a fabulous time together.
The workshop was only for two days, and with the flights paid for, I have been able to extend my stay for another week and a half with the objective of visiting Indian cities I have not visited previously and forging connections with the Indian ceramic community.
Through the contact of Anjani Khanna, chair of the Indian Ceramics Triennale whom some CAAWA committee members had a Zoom meeting last year, I was able to connect with Ceramic artists in Indore, Ahmedabad, Pune and Anjani’s hometown of Mumbai. I write this halfway through my trip and am due to head to Pune this evening.
In Indore, I was invited to the home and studio of Mudita Bhandari. Mudita is an accomplished ceramic artist who hand-builds a variety of forms in terracotta. Her work is beautifully and calmly expressive. It references both architectural and organic forms and includes glimpses of structures, divisions and partitions in their interior. Pure forms are punctuated with holes and cavities that create intrigue and invite closer inspection. Some works are wall mounted, the changing shadows enhancing their sculptural impact. A recent body of work based on overlapping rectangular ‘frames’ or windows also used a layer of paper pulp over the clay in some areas that acts as a contrast in both colour and texture. The work is enigmatic, playful and articulate.
In Ahmedabad, I was invited to lunch at Khanjan Dalal‘s residence with Falghuni Bhatt. Both are renowned Indian ceramic artists. Falghuni has done a residence at the Fremantle art centre and knew many WA potters, and was still in love with Fremantle. I discovered over lunch that she had even visited my studio courtesy of my partner Jenny on a trip to Mundaring Arts Centre when I was away! Khanjan and Falghuni are coordinators and founders of the Indian Ceramic Art Foundation. The organisation has similar aims to The Australian Ceramics Association (TACA) in terms of promoting studio ceramics in a national forum and showcasing the best-of contemporary ceramics being produced and exhibited in the nation.
Over delicious Gujarati food, we talked about ceramic practice in India and Australia and the possibilities for future networking opportunities. The recent India Ceramics trip organized by CAAWA committee members Japneet Keith and Katrina Rogers has also developed a network in the northern part of India, as has Graham Hay’s recent workshop ‘The Quiet Paper Clay Revolution‘ held in February at Aorang Studio in Kolkata in the west. I have further meetings scheduled in Pune and Mumbai, so we seem to have the subcontinent covered!
The trip reinforced my belief that potters are the nicest people. Warm, enthusiastic, welcoming and vibrant in their love of life and love of art. I have been so warmly welcomed into many homes and studios. Through this travel, I have been able to talk about possible future residencies and exhibitions and promote our 2025 Ceramics Triennale, but more than that, I've made some friends with similar interests. I hope that this translates into further meetings and exchanges of knowledge and skills between our two cultures.