Presentation Overview Smoke on the Water, 2017, by Rowley Drysdale.
Good folk, it’s time to conduct a “viability check”, subject- our beloved wood fired ceramics medium. Let’s state the obvious, who better to do it than makers, collectors, publishers, directors, the younger and the older, all together in one place at one time.
Can producing wood fired ceramics remain (if it ever was) financially viable, environmentally viable, socially and creatively viable, or is just too compromising to personal and planetary health, not to mention the bank balance. Just how culturally relevant is wood firing in the 21st century, how sustainable?
Always look on the bright side of…..handmade, earthy ceramic things…..da da, dada, dad a.
Let’s attempt to unearth some clues. Arguably, there is a societal shift valuing objects which encapsulate a non-industrial, lower-tech, organic origin and wood fire ceramics well reflect this. That might be good.
And…. maybe there is a deepening awareness concerning provenance of ware to match that expressed in provenance of the food which sits on it, (or in it). Could it be, finally, exit polystyrene coffee cup?
And….perhaps the handmade, wood fired earthy coffee cup does symbolise a hipster type modern aesthetic. Or will it end up running a close second to the recycled glass jar, vegemite or not?
There’s a saying that goes “good wood fired ceramics is born old”, or alternatively, “born humble”, but how relevant is that in post truth Trumpian society?
A mate of mine muttered “wood firing is enforced Buddhism” to which I hastily agreed “it can be materially obstinate” and something was said about an emotional roller coaster and low pay low tech events coordinating. But we got up off the canvas. Troubling observation is that this type of behaviour often precedes a knockout punch.
Ultimately, wood firing is a way of making art. Specifically it’s a way of creating particular surfaces on objects with particular phenomenal character. Does it communicate enough to enough people? Is it properly tuned and is the volume up loud enough/down low enough.
In the context of wood firing these are relevant questions but actually, equally as important to any ceramic artist who loads work into a kiln, or for that matter into the surf, or a corporate foyer…….
There’s no time like now to tackle the hard questions. “Now” is always the right time.
Wood firing invites collaboration, demands it unless you are some crazy mountain man potter type. Problem solving is somewhat the same.
Smoke on the Water 2017 organisers invite all and sundry to the conversation, regardless of whether or not you throw wood into a kiln. Together we solve, or agree there’s nothing to solve. At which point we can all retire to the bar, or lounge chairs, smiles on faces. – Rowley Drysdale.