That uncomfortable thing I talked about in my previous post. Yes, I don't like it. But after sharing the link to that post in the IoM Creative Industries Facebook group, it dawned on me that growing as an artist is supposed is be uncomfortable. This is probably an embarrassingly overdue realisation.
At home, I've been concerned that I will become too comfortable and complacent in my practice. The Isle of Man has many perks and life can be relatively easy, but creatives run the risk of developing low expectations of themselves. It's a frequent occurrence - not just on the island, though I do believe it's more prevalent in small places - talented individuals don't fulfil their potential because their lifestyle has become very sheltered and safe, so they don't take the risks to push their boundaries or expectations. I don't want to do that. I want to be ambitious, I want to improve my skills, I want to exceed my goals.
So, dear Present Katy, pipe down and work through this discomfort, Future Katy will thank you for it.
[On a side note, yesterday I tried out a Xiem Tools Batmate and I'm pretty impressed! They claim that it's 'the perfect solution for annoying bat jitter and warping. Place Batmate™ below your problem bats on the wheel and instantly your warped bats become stable. It is also great for trimming bowls and plates.' - so far I've tried bats of 3 different materials, even a warped one and they all held perfectly. This is an exciting development for me as I've never been good at keeping a clay pad in good shape and probably waste heaps of time getting my throwing bats level. Yay!]
I've been in Fremantle, at The Clay House, for two days now. The studio is lovely, with heaps of space and natural light even on cloudy days!
I applied for this residency to learn new skills, make some work in Australia and step out of my comfort zone. I forgot that being outside of one's comfort zone is scary. I'm working in an open plan studio; with just three other potters in the building, totally focussed on their own work, I feel vulnerable. I'm using a new-to-me wheel. It's a classic Venco, but it feels clunky compared to my Shimpo. I've picked up some Walker's Number 10 white stoneware clay, but it's way firmer than I've become accustomed to. There aren't many throwing bats available so I have to cut the pots straight off the wheel, something I only did a few times in college. I probably have an unhealthy dependency on bats. All of these things feel BAD, but that's just nerves talking. These differences are what I'm here for. They'll make me a better potter.
One month has passed since I land in Australia. It's been an excellent month. Last week I had a couple of days back in Melbourne to recuperate from the conference (2 days was not enough...), then flew to the Gold Coast for a long weekend. This week I've had some lovely, slow days in Melbourne, preparing myself for the two week residency in Fremantle. I fly to Perth tomorrow morning!
Part of the plan for my residency is to learn some screen printing techniques, so I've been playing with designs in Photoshop. I'm really excited by the prospect of combining painting, printing and digital decals.
I spent a quiet day with Adriana yesterday, and during one of many cups of tea she declared 'You should paint something!'. She promptly provided me with a bowl, showed me how to use pure cobalt (with some frit) to paint and left me to play! It was the first time I'd sued cobalt - it was strange to get used to, as it dries quickly on the palette, but I really enjoyed it.
The Australian Tapestry Workshop is right around the corner from my Aunt's house here in South Melbourne. I've walked past it countless times and wondered what the studios were like. This weekend I had the opportunity to peek inside, thanks to Open House Melbourne! It's a fascinating workshop and SO colourful!
We're ready to drive back to Melbourne after the Australian Ceramics Triennale. Our week has been grand. Intense, sometimes stressful, often hilarious (and delirious) and exhausting!
The Instagram treasure hunt, @Trienseek, was utterly hilarious - watching people scuttling around the ANU school of art clutching their smart phones, determined to take a pot home with them! Well done to Callum for finding my pourer.
It's been a week of meeting social media friends and seeing their pots in real life (IRL!)! A particular favourite is Melanie McEvoy (@melaniemcevoy), her hand-painted porcelain cups are charming.
These teeny espresso cups came with me from the Isle of Man for a little secret suitcase sale. They're now travelling to new homes across the country!
There is so much to be learnt from these events, but mostly they remind me that all (or at least most) of us are self-conscious, insecure and highly critical of our work. Even the potters that seem like they're killing it and living the dream, they're all worrying whether their work is good enough. It's grounding to be reminded of this and it levels the playing field somewhat. We all need to give ourselves a break and quit the internal bullying!
Saturday was a real highlight for the talks, which were all focussed on making money. Mike Goldmark of Goldmark Gallery gave a stirring keynote speech with an emphasis on selling real, functional pots to be used in daily life. Mike must have received around seven rounds of applause during his 45 minute talk! We liked him a lot. Other favourite speakers were Carole Epp, Ben Carter and Fred Olsen. The closing presentation from Vipoo Srivilasa, Kenji Uranishi and Kirsten Coelho on residencies in Arita, Japan was also incredible inspiring.
Thank you to the Isle of Man Arts Council for the grant to cover my conference fee, it's wonderful to be here and represent our wee island! I still feel such a part of this community even though I've been gone for over 2 years.
9 days have passed since I landed back 'home' in Australia. It's good to be back. I've been gallivanting around the city with my dear friend, comrade and potter, Adriana Christianson. After a few dates with Melbourne friends, I hopped into Adriana's car and we drove up to Canberra today, for the Australian Ceramics Triennale!
One of the MANY exciting events this week is an Instagram treasure hunt this week, curated by Adriana. If you're in Canberra, follow me (@kathryn.mitchell) and @Trienseek for clues to find the pots! Follow @adrianachristianson too, whilst you're at it.
On Monday we visited Sharon Alpren, then Tuesday saw us heading up to Tallarook to see Sandra Bowkett firing her wood kiln. On the way home we stopped in at Kinglake to visit Yvette De Lacy of Mountain Clay, where she generously invited us to stay for a glorious roast dinner! Yvette and her husband John own a native flower farm - I'm so sad that it was dark by the time we arrived! It seems like a real special place.
Wednesday started with a quick drop-in to Cone 11 at Abbotsford Convent to see Ilona and Colin (seriously talented and motivated throwers, LOOK at those lights!), then we whizzed over to Slow Clay and Northcote Pottery studios via Used Pty Ltd, and onto Daylesford to see darling Bridget Bodenham! Full ON!