Tag Archives: artists

Ceramic News Briefs International

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Germany: Missing link in Roman conquest of Germany a ‘sensational find,The Local – There has been a major archaeological find about ancient Romans in present-day Germany. Pottery shards are an important component of the find, which focuses on a chain of Roman camps. This most recent find shows that Roman soldiers “used the camp from 11 to 7 B.C. as a base to control the river crossing – which makes the find one of the most important logistical landmarks of the Roman conquerors.”

United States: Science on the SPOT: The Science of Salt Glaze Pottery, Quest – A North Carolina family has been involved with pottery for six generations. This article focuses upon Ben Owen III who makes salt glazed pottery. A companion article, which can be found here, reports on minerals for salt glazing, focusing on glaze chemistry.
England: Ceramics companies take centre stage at major US launch, This Is Staffordshire – City Council leaders from Stoke-on-Trent are launching a National Geographic Museum exhibition on the Staffordshire Hoard. A display of British ceramics will be shown to dignitaries and businessmen. Stoke-on-Trent is enjoying a renaissance and the U.S. launch focuses on promoting the British ceramics industry and informing people about the technological advances in the industry, in addition to supply and demand, and labor.

United States: Surmet Strengthens Fabrication Capability for Transparent Ceramic Armor and IR optics Products, PR Web – As you know, I report on high-tech ceramics occasionally and have come across an intriguing article about an amazing material. It is called transparent ceramic armor and is made of magnesia Spinel. The article reports on a “… wide variety of shapes and sizes ranging in complexity from Transparent Ceramic Armor windows, through prisms, lenses, hemispherical and hyper-hemispherical domes and windows for sensors, lasers and reconnaissance. Surmet’s fabrication capability extends beyond optical ceramics to materials such as Sapphire, Silicon, and Germanium, etc. ”

England: Prince Charles at Victorian Middleport Pottery Site, BBC – Middleport Pottery, the last working Victorian pottery, has received funding from Prince Charles that will allow it to remain open. “Burleigh blue and white floral china has been made there since 1888.” For related articles and a video, click here and here.  Another related story reports on Prince Charles’ objection to the demolition of homes that were built for the potteries workers. For more on that, click here. Thank goodness for Prince Charles and his charities!

United States: The Scrolls as a Start, Not an End, New York Times – Ceramic artifacts are part of an exhibition called “The Dead Sea Scrolls: Life and Faith in Biblical Times” that will run through April 15 at Discovery Times Square in New York City (discoverytsx.com). Click on the story link to watch a fascinating slide show that accompanies the article. This is an excellent feature story about the exhibition and is well worth the time it takes to read.

United States: Muralist seeks funds to install art installation, Berkeleyside – A mural is languishing in storage because there is no money to install it at a senior living facility in California. The artist is now pursuing other forms of revenue. “After years of frustration, Alicia turned to the web-based funding platform Kickstarter to raise the $5,000 needed to install the 10 monumental ceramic panels of her work. At time of writing, 17 backers had donated $521. If the $5,000 isn’t raised by November 20, the project will fail.” Click through to this story link to see a video about the artist and her project.

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Supporting the arts, one piece at a time

It must have been when I was 16 or 17 that I bought my first piece of art with an awareness that I was buying art. I’d known my mother’s friend, Nancy, much of my life, first in Europe, then in the U.S. Nancy’s husband was a photographer and she was a painter from upstate New York. I can still hear her strong dialect when I think of her. It makes me think of a photo the family has of Nancy: she’s in the foreground and the Mona Lisa is behind her. Disappointment was all written all over Nancy’s face! So funny… One summer, I bought one of her paintings. I still have it and, to this day, I love it every bit as much as I did when I bought it. Maybe more. No one else seems to like or appreciate it, but I do and that’s what counts. The canvas is  30″ x 24″ and the painting depicts a close-up of part of a conch shell, which takes up the entire canvas, save a part at the top. It’s not cutesy or a scientific study; it’s more impressionistic. White, blue, lavender, yellow, and midnight blue. Like peering deep down into the shell, with a dreamlike quality. Most of the art I own or purchased was created by artists I know whose work I like. I strongly believe it is important to support these friends/artists by purchasing their work. It is also important to support the arts by purchasing works of art by people who aren’t in my circle. Several weeks ago, we did just that when we took a short ferry ride to Bowen Island. While there, we each bought a piece of ceramic art from Jeanne Sarich at her studio/gallery, Cloudflower Clayworks. Then, today, in Port Moody, after Pauline and I had a cuppa, we took in a couple of shops. One, I’d been meaning to go to because it carries Sid Dickens’ Memory Blocks. I had researched and written about them and him but had never actually seen his work in person till today. When I walked into Chartreuse Living, I recognized a collection of them on the wall. Oh, my. Oh, my, oh my. They are gorgeous beyond words. (How to narrow down my choice(s)?)  I also saw beautiful renditions of a barn owl, one of which I’d like to get. The proprietress said the artist, Heather Johnston, prints photographs on canvas, then paints over them. In the end, the work resembles an old piece of film. It makes sense that we would bring the work these artisans make into our own homes and, all the more so, because we ourselves create. I’ll never forget going to Sean Thompson’s opening at Dr. Vigari’s one winter night in the city. I fell completely in love with a painting. At the time, Sean painted Canadian hockey players larger than life. (The painting he’s working on at this link is of Tim Horton, a Canadian icon.) The subject was strange to me, a new immigrant. I still didn’t really know how much hockey was an integral part of the Canadian psyche.  The paintings in the show were enormous. Canvases were about 8′ tall and 5′ wide and there were diptychs and triptychs. Yet, I was drawn to something much smaller. Rendered in the style of Russian iconography, the painting depicts a poignant historic incident that took place in 1933. In the painting, the fallen player is Toronto Maple Leafs’ Ace Bailey, a favorite throughout the country and leading scorer and goal scorer. Standing over him on the ice, stricken, is fellow Leaf Red Horner, who came to his aid but also feels guilty. Bailey had been brutally hit from behind by the Boston Bruins’ Eddie Shore. Bailey crashed to the ice, fracturing and concussing his skull. The painting shows an angel hovering over Ace and the Leafs. They are painted in the style of Russian iconography and the figures have that static feel.  Though star player Ace Bailey recovered, he never played hockey again; the incident ended his career. So, here on the wall between two rooms hangs Thompson’s visual retelling. I’m not a hockey fan, I just love the painting, that Sean recreated a historic incident in such an iconic way. What does it for me is the tenderness and love shown by all the players and the protection of the angel overhead. Do yourself a favor this week. Go out, fall in love with a piece of art and bring it home!

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Rollo May’s “The Nature of Creativity,” Part 2

Existentialist psychologist Rollo May discusses the creative process in his work, The Nature of Creativity. Previously, I covered May’s definition of creativity and if you haven’t seen that post, you can find it here.  —  “Let us now inquire into the nature of the creative process, and seek our answers by trying to describe as accurately as possible what actually happens in individuals at the moment of the creative act,” writes May. “I shall speak mostly about artists because I know them, have worked with them, and, to some extent, am one myself. This does not mean that I underestimate creativity in other activities.” May said that the first thing you notice in a creative act is that it is “an encounter.”
 Artists encounter a scene they intend to paint, for instance; they become absorbed in it.
 The encounter for abstract painters might be “an idea,
 an inner vision.” The materials, paint, canvas, etc., “become a secondary part” of the encounter. “They are the language of it, the media.” The encounter, May explains, can involve will power, but the main point isn’t the “presence or absence of voluntary effort, but the degree of absorption, the degree of intensity.” May further explains that there must be “a specific quality of engagement.” He goes on to talk about the distinction between “pseudo,
 escapist creativity” and genuine creativity. The former lacks encounter, he said. A patient of his exemplified this: The man was very talented and would become inspired to write, but “would stop there, writing down nothing at all.” May said the “vital link of experience…was missing” and, therefore, “the encounter was lacking.” He continued, saying that with escapist creativity, not only is there no encounter, there is “no engagement with reality.” In addition, he said, “the concept of encounter also enables us to make clearer the 
important distinction between talent and creativity.” Talent may be inherited and might or might not be used. “But creativity
 can be seen only in the act.”  Further, he claims that purists, instead of referring to creative people, would refer, instead, to a “creative act.” With Pablo Picasso, there was great talent and “great encounter” which resulted in “great creativity.” Of F. Scott Fitzgerald, May said he had great talent, but “
truncated creativity.” A very creative person might seem to have little talent, he said, citing the novelist Thomas Wolfe. “But he was so creative because he threw himself so
 completely into his material and the challenge of saying it—he was great 
because of the intensity of his encounter.”

(Next, the “Intensity of the Encounter.”)

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Rollo May’s “The Nature of Creativity,” Part 1

Last night, I got up around 1 a.m., as I was having trouble sleeping. I started reading from where I had left off with Rollo May‘s The Courage to Create. Very interested in the creative process and the act of creativity, the nuts and bolts behind it. It’s been on my storyboard for a while. Who better to talk about it than May in his piece, The Nature of Creativity? His style is readable and engaging. Published in 1959, his writing is food for the soul, every bit as relevant now. A psychologist, May does use jargon from his field; however, it in no way deflects from the intent of his words. In addition, he was a painter himself, so he’s not talking about art without firsthand experience. Earlier today, as I was out running errands, I decided to share it with you. In today’s post, he defines creativity. Later, he addresses the creative process, the intensity of creative encounter, and how that encounter relates to the world. I believe that we must look beyond the act and consider the process. It informs our work and strengthen us.  “When we define creativity, we must make the distinction between its pseudo forms, on the one hand—that is, creativity as a superficial aestheticism,” wrote May.  “And, on the other, its authentic form—that is, the process of bringing something new into being. The crucial distinction is between art as artificiality (as in “artifice” or “artful”) and genuine art.” He said that such distinctions have been contentious for artists and philosophers through the ages. Using Plato as an example, he said the philosopher demoted artists and poets “down to the sixth circle of reality” because they did not deal with reality but appearances, that art was only decoration and “a way of making life prettier.” He contrasted this demotion with Plato’s later writings in the Symposium. In it, Plato made a 180 degree turn, saying that true artists are those who birth  new realities. May said that, according to Plato, poets and creative people “are the ones who express being itself.” I am not sure why Plato’s view changed so markedly, as I yet to research it. Alternately, May contends that true artists “are the ones who enlarge human consciousness.” He also said a most beautiful thing: “Their creativity is the most basic manifestation of a man or woman fulfilling his or her own being in the world.” He does make a clear distinction. May does not include hobbyists or weekend artists…those who are simply “filling up leisure time.” May laments that “nowhere has the meaning of creativity been more disastrously lost than in the idea that it is something you do only on week ends.” You may think this smacks of elitism, but May’s true artists are fully engaged in the creative process. Countering different schools of thought, he claimed that the creative process should not be explored “as the product of sickness,” referring to those who deemed it neuroses. Instead, May said the creative process represents “the highest degree of emotional health, as the expression of the normal people in the act of actualizing themselves.” He spoke to both the creativity of scientist and artist, “in the thinker as well as in the aesthetician.” Further, he says we can’t rule out the extent to which it is “present in captains of modern technology as well as in a mother’s normal relationship with her child.” To May, “creativity, as Webster’s rightly indicates, is basically the process of making, of bringing into being.”


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