Sunday, 19 July 2015
Friday, 26 June 2015
With the cold months here it is time to make the most of
the winter and cook pots with fire.
As we live in the Blue Mountains, NSW, Australia,
where summer fires are a concern
I am extremely cautious about when it is safe to fire with wood.
I only work with fire between June and September
so I have to pack the time with lots of firings.
They do scrub up nicely and I love the process.
I have been alternating between pit firing alone,
for my own work
and also with my students
who have been making some lovely work.
The preparation is long and slow
as I am a one person unit
but it is great to be able to use the old falling down palling fence
and to clean up all the sticks and
bits of wood from our well treed block before the Summer
while firing my work in a way that produces colour and individuality
and speaks of the environment I live in
I do LOVE that!
but it is great to recycle
infact that is a very important part of why I do what I do.
Not much is thrown away here.
The chooks get their share and the compost heap is looked after
and pit fireing is a great way to use some kitchen scraps too.
Banana skins, citrus peel, coffee grounds, corn husks
and many more elements help to create colour in the fire pit.
Then last weekend I went off to Sandy Lockwood's
for a group woodfire
I like to keep learning new things from different artists
It makes me think about my process
and consider how, what and why I make things.
New teachers keep me excited about my work
as a growing and living experience.
I have had about 6 or 7 influential teachers in my life.
As I work, I recall different asspects of their teaching.
I strongly encourage my students and any creative person
to keep learning from as many people that you come across
who's art and aproach to making art you enjoy.
Be an eternal student I say,
not stuck on one teachers approach,
don't just stick with one technique that you feel comfortable with,
take yourself out of your comfort zone.
Go on regular creative adventures and challenge yourself
it will add depth to your process
as you find new ways to work.
Well, that my idea of fun anyhow :)
How sad would it be to feel that you had nothing more to learn?
That the learning had stopped!
No, there is so many wonderful makers
who have so much to share, enjoy!
My lovely niece, Frances, came along
to the woodfire at Sandy Lockwood's studio this time.
My sister, Karin came down too,
from outback NSW.
So great to spend this kind of occasion with people you love.
All the above photos of Balmoral Studio are by my brother Chris
So now I will spend the next month
on wood fired raku ware
and another pit fire while the weather is chilly and moist.
Then another wood fire at Balmoral Pottery in August
There is much to do!
Gems did emerge from the fires
but I am not going to show you these just yet
as I like to keep them a surprise for the exhibitions.
Come and visit my studio on the weekend of
August 15th and 16th
when I will have an open day
with my new domestic ware
some older work
and a seconds table
Come and play with some clay
and share a cuppa.
Then in October
I will have my favorite pieces on show
at our 7th Family Exhibition
in Bowral at the BDAS Gallery.
For updates and opening times go to our
2015 Donaldson Family Exhibition FB page
Thursday, 7 May 2015
I have to say that the older I get the bigger life seems to become.
Each year seems to be so full of excitement
both challenging and engaging.
My adult life has been always full of children.
I imagine this will be my story for as long as I am on the planet.
It is a wonderful thing.
However that is not my only story.
Art has been the story of my life from the moment I was born.
My mum, an artist and primarily a painter,
lived and breathed art and so did my 17 year old sister.
Sometimes my life gets so full of children and family events
that it is hard to find time to make art.
Sometimes my life is so full of art
that it is hard to find time for children and family occasions
Both ART and FAMILY insist on attention
and I HAVE to divide my time fairly.
I am glad about that.
It keeps me whole.
It keeps my heart warm and my spirit strong.
But sometimes when I feel a little pushed for time
or I have a slight wobble in my self esteem
I need to pause and reflect
on how happy I am that my life has the shape it has.
I am now in the second year of my part time
Grad Cert Visual Art/ Ceramics.
Since January I have been working on a unit of work
called 'Designing and making for the Domestic'
It seems an appropriate unit for me to be focused on.
Amongst other things, I have been making
cups and saucers and mugs and saucers.
I have made quite a few!
It has been a great process.
I am inspired to make and make and make……
(in amongst the rest of family life.)
I have also been teaching beginners pottery classes
in my little
Lilli Pilli Studio.
I do love my classes.
I have delightful students….so much so
that I haven't been looking for more people to fill the class
because the class dynamic is so enjoyable as it is.
I am such a bad business woman,
if I was clever I would only run full classes
and everything would be run like clockwork,
But the joy of creative pursuits
is difficult to team up with good business in my mind.
So we just have a great time making and creating….
and I manage to keep it all ticking over
but I don't make what anyone could ever call a living.
It has been a bit mind bending to embrace
sharing my studio with 5 other adult creatives.
I have always been a bit secretive of my work process
and now it is watched and questioned all the way.
I will have to hide my exhibition work,
at least in the final stages,
so that they can look at them
with fresh eyes when they are in a gallery.
This year is my family exhibition year.
My siblings and I have been exhibiting together every 3 years
for the past 17 years.
This year it will be in Bowral in October
(we always have it in October)
That means that it is an extra busy year for me this year.
Last year I started having an annual Open Studio
in co-ordination with the Australian Ceramics Association
This event sees all its members across Australia opening their studios
to the public to raise awareness of local pottery production and classes.
It is called the Australian Ceramics Open Studios ( ACOS )
It is a great event to be part of.
I like to make these two exhibitions unique from each other.
For ACOS I will have my 'Domestic Ware' for sale
and a few sculptural pieces for the garden.
I will do demonstrations and have clay available for people to play with.
I will have my hand made paper for sale and perhaps a "seconds" table.
A display of my students work.
The day is about community.
Mark your calendar for the weekend of 15th and 16th August
come and visit , have a chat and share some tea/coffee and cake.
Our family exhibition will be quite a different selection of my work
I will show my raku, pit fire,
wood fired work and larger vessels.
Some basketry and mixed media Incorporated with my ceramics.
Stitched work and drawings.
My sister, Karin, will have some ceramics too, along
with her paintings, prints, pastels and mixed media sculpture.
My brother, Chris, has been travelling with his wife, Anne,
to exotic and fascinating places and he has so much
to share in his Silver Gelatin and digital photography.
My brother, Mike will have extraordinary photos
of the Kimberley region to accompany his fabulous books on rock art.
These exhibitions have been a great bonding experience for us.
They combine family and art in a very positive and heart felt way.
We look forward to sharing that with you in October.
If you are interested in having an invitation sent to you please email me
It is only May and I already feel like I have done enough for 2 years.
Apart from working on my uni work and teaching
I went to Perth for a weekend in March for my brothers 70th
I had a lovely time, though very short,
eating oysters and enjoying family connections
and caught a bit of Sculpture by the Sea
I must enter this some day.
and checked out my niece Julia's boutique
If you are in Perth go and have a look.
and they are on line too
and back to work to prepare
my work for end of term assessment
and keep making for the rest of the events
that the year seems to be expecting will happen
April brought my son and his family for a visit
lots of cuddles with grand kids
and auntie bonding times
and everyone got busy with clay
and we just like hanging out together
and we all attended the wedding of my much loved niece,
Frances, to the delightful Cory.
Sorry I dont have the bride and groom pics
but these guys are nice :)
What a stunning wedding in an autumn Bilpin
Then back to the studio
recycling lots of clay
and turning it into pots
my busy life dealt me an important lesson
in the midst of all the merriment
More haste and less speed!
I fired some big work before it was quite dry
with disastrous consequences
I wiped my tears and pulled my self together
to dash off for
another quick plane trip to Ballina where
my son is a fireman at the new airport there.
Grand Ma GoGo duty for a day
while Suse was modelling
at the Byron Bay Fashion Festival.
Quite a treat to see him at work
and I am always happy to sample
Suse's yummy German cooking
a quick look at the beach
a bit of salt air
Then back home
pack up my work
and off to Canberra for assessment
Life never stops.
It is all good fun.
But there is so much of it!!!!
I am lucky to have family and friends
and potters are a fabulous community.
For some people things are not so full and happy
Nepal has suffered dearly over the last weeks.
I am proud to say that the potting community
has gathered together to create a fundraiser
steered by of Vipoo Srivilasa, Adriana Christianson
and Vicki Grima
Take a look, if you are a collector,
it is a great opportunity to give and receive