Ceramic Sculpture Artist

Sally Walk

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Food, glorious food

Posted by walksally@gmail.com on January 23, 2012 at 6:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Well it's been a couple of busy days since I last spoke to you all. Still very busy. Tomorrow is a day off, and thankfully I have nothing planned, so I might explore Seto city a bit more.

Yesterday was more working in the studio. I did however get taken out to lunch with 3 of the trainees. It was a wonderful restaurant. Did I tell you how much I am enjoying the food...oh yeah; I might have mentioned that once or twice. Anyway the meal below was what I ordered all for $12 Australian dollars. I love the presentation and the use of ceramic plates. All these plates, bowls and dishes are all hand made by local ceramic artists, and just make the experience of eating that much more pleasurable.

After lunch Kuwa had a friend who was hosting what seemed to be historical games. The reason why was lost in translation, so I am not sure what it was in aid of. Any way it cost 300 yen to play and involved participants to be dressed in kimonos. We played a game much the same as 'memory', a matching game made of ceramic shells lined with images of ancient Japanese scenes. Then was a game that was played over 600 years ago. This involved 5 ceramic cups filled with hot coals. On the hot coal was balanced a small square of glass. Our host delicately placed small pellets of incence on the glass using chopsticks. Each cup was then passed around the group in a manner very similar to the tea ceremony. So I had to take the cup, place it on the palm of my hand, turn the cup twice to the right and covering my nose and the top of the cup, smell the fragrance and then turn the cup twice back to the left and pass it along. Using a calligraphy pen and some beautiful paper I was required to record which two were the same fragrance. At the end the answer was revealed and I got it completly wrong, but so did everyone. It was very interesting. See the photo below.

As for my work, well I should really tell you how that is going, since that is the reason I am here. I am still working on a couple of new sculptures at once. Here is where I am at....

The one above  is going to stand on the studded side and is about 45cm in height. Below is some detail.

The little frilly ones above are part of an installation. There will be 20-30 (depending on time) and are made of fine porcelain which will be lit from within using LED lights. They are very delicate and are sitting of temporary stands to protect them whilst drying and when they are in the kiln. I have made 10 so far.

Tonight was my turn to cook for the trainee's. I resorted to cooking what I knew well and what could be cooked with only one portable burner. So seafood risotto it was. I managed to find all the ingredients in what seemed like an eternity in the supermarket. Fresh seafood is quite amazing and as I was studying the selection, I realised some of it was still quite alive. Poor little things all packaged up in the fridge at the supermarket. Anyway I decided the prawns with no heads were my safest and most dead option. I also included some fresh crab, and mussels. It was a success, thankfully. I served a cheese platter after the meal and that was the most interesting to the Japanese. They had never tried any of the cheeses I had. So now they have tasted Brie, Blue Vein and Tasty cheese. How funny.

Talk to you soon

 

my blue and white painting

Posted by walksally@gmail.com on January 21, 2012 at 6:20 AM Comments comments (5)

Not much to report today, as I am still in the middle of a new sculpture and keep forgetting to take some new photos....sorry.

But I did get my hand painted blue and white chopstick holder back today. I am pretty happy with it. I might have to attempt this again when I am at home.

Not bad for a first attempt. It really is quite a technical process, requiring you to hold the brush correctly and allow the colour to pool to ensure the variation. I most certainly do now have more of an appreciation for this technique, and those who are masters in this art form.

Anyway I promise to take some more photos of my own artwork tomorrow.

Talk to you all then.

A gift to remember

Posted by walksally@gmail.com on January 20, 2012 at 5:15 AM Comments comments (1)

Hi all,

Firstly let me say I have received all of your messages, so thanks as I love hearing from you all.

Well the last two days have been busy again. I spent all day in the studio yesterday and have started a new sculpture. No photos yet as it is all in pieces at the moment. I am also having a little play with the black clay which I am enjoying. The first firing went well and all the little curly bits survived the firing, as did everything else. Thank goodness!! So its full steam ahead to make sure I get a full kiln load for the next firing.

Last night we had welcome party number 5. This was held at the Seto Cultural Centre and was basically a staff party, with all the trainees and the resident artists. It was a wonderful evening, with a range of Japanese food, some I hope I never have to eat again, fermented soya beans for example. All of the other food was amazing, even the raw tuna.

Today was a lecture at the local high school. This is a school dedicated to ceramics which is quite unusual to us in Australia. I presented a lecture on my own art and some other Australian ceramic artists and then some information and pictures about school life in Australia. This was followed by a tour of the school, which is an amazing complex with art facilities exceeding what I experienced at university. Mare presented a lecture on the history of glass art in Estonia.

We returned to the studio to work a little more. I was presented with a gift from Kuwa. She showed me a collection of her tea cups and asked me to choose one to remember her. Below is a photo of her in the studio and she has been a wonderful friend to me whilst I have been here.

 

Her work (above is the tea cup she gave me) is quite beautiful, and very organic. I will treasure it. All ceramic artists seem to have a range of tea cups, regardless of what kind of work they do. Ceramics is very well regarded in Japan. Kuwa usually creates organic sculptural forms that are wall mounted.

Anyway it time for me to get some sleep, and I have another big day in the studio tommorow. Kuwa, Ai, Mare and I have a shopping trip planned after the next firing, so I need to get moving to have it all finished. I am looking forward to shopping. Yay!!

 

Still working

Posted by walksally@gmail.com on January 18, 2012 at 6:30 PM Comments comments (2)

Hi all,

Yesterday began, by meeting Mare at the front of Apita so I could walk with her to the studio as she did not know the way. We are in seperate apartment blocks, but they are not far from each other. She is working upstairs in the glass studio and I am a little envious as it is so warm in her studio with the glass furness being on. Anyway that was the last I saw of her for the day, as she is no doubt, going through the process of working the studio out and accessing materials.

As for me well I was hard at work again. Here is where I am up to.....

Anyway its back to the studio again, I plan to start a bigger sculpture today, so have to get my skates on if I plan to have it finished and dry in time for the next firing....aaahhhhh

I'll talk to you all soon

 

A day of good fortune

Posted by walksally@gmail.com on January 17, 2012 at 5:55 AM Comments comments (1)

Hi all, well I have been very busy since the last post. Yesterday was spent in the studio, working on my sculpture. I also met the new glass artist resident, Mare from Estonia. She is really nice and thankfully speaks excellent English. Monday is the day the gas kiln is fired and therefore all the trainees stay until the kiln gets to temperature, which is usually about 11pm. It was a chance to spend some extra time working. It was also a chance to have dinner with the trainee's in the studio. Kuwa cooked again, this time it was a traditional food usually only eaten at new year. This was a rice cake, which is basically sticky rice that has been beaten or kneaded until it is a smooth sticky paste. It is then rolled into balls and eaten in a variety of ways. Kuwa cooked a chicken and vegetable soup, to which the rice cakes were added. It was delicious. We also tried the rice cakes toasted and dipped in a mixture of soy sauce and sugar and then mixed with white radish and a sour sauce. I didn't quite make it to 11pm, and was given a lift home at about 9.30pm as I was exhausted.

Today was very busy. Mare and I met the mayor, who was very interested in what artwork we were making. We presented him with gifts, and drank green tea. After this we were taken to a shirine and the family memorial of one of the important Shogun's of the past. I'd like to be able to remember his name, but sorry I have forgotten it. Anyway we travelled up to the top of a hill to a beautiful and very peaceful place.

It was an amazing place, that was built over 600 years ago.

Next was a trip to some local ceramic shops, then a great noodle lunch. The afternoon was spent with the Seto International Group. We were greeted by about 40 people who were interested in practising their English and finding out about Australia. It seems that many Japanese people like to travel to Australia, and Ayers rock is the most popular destination for newly weds to honeymoon. Anyway this group organised a walk around Seto to see some of the most interesting sights, including another shirine. At this one I had the chance to purchase a small envelope that contained my fortune for 2012. This is a tradition at beginning of the new year. If it is good luck then you can keep it in your wallet or tie it to a string line at the shrine to ensure it comes true. If it is bad luck then you must tie it up to make sure it does not come true, I had to shake a wooden cylinder, then tip out a skewer like wooden stick. On this stick was a number that was the number of my fortune envelope. Watched by about 10 people I opened it and then handed it over for translation. After much excitement, it was revealed that I had been given the highest luck possible. I will have a very fotunate 2012 with big money on the horizon......I hope so.

Next was a small welcome party with more rice cakes and sushi and then Mare and I were whisked away to be dressed in Kimono's. With two people dressing us and each layer tighter than the rest, I can't image how women could have worn these on a regular basis. Barely able to breathe and walking little steps in little shoes that were about 10 sizes to small, we were presented to a group that had now grown to about 50. I also learnt some Japanese calligraphy and how to write my name.

    

This was followed by another welcome dinner, this time to welcome Mare. Overall an exhausting, but fantastic day. Back to the studio tommorow.

A successful day of work

Posted by walksally@gmail.com on January 15, 2012 at 5:10 AM Comments comments (0)

To make up for no blogs the last few days, I'll do two today, although this one will be short and sweet.

I worked all day in the studio, so just wanted to update you on my progress. Here is a partially completed sculpture, that I am curently working on. I am actually starting to really enjoy working with this porcelain clay. And yes each and every one of the 162 little squares was individually attached. As you can imagine I was feeling a bit cross eyed by the end of the day. And there is still plenty more to do. Better get some sleep now.

Talk to you again soon

Let the sake flow

Posted by walksally@gmail.com on January 14, 2012 at 5:40 PM Comments comments (1)

Hi all,

Yes I know its been a few days since the last entry, sorry about that. Anyway I have been quite busy. My work is going well and I have started a new sculpture, that will be made up of a many pieces like the ones that you have seen. I have also put some work into the test firing. I was a bit worried about firing a kiln that I don't know, however there was no need, because as it turns out, that is my assistants job. Ito, collected my work, stacked the kiln and is in the process of firing it. How nice is that. We decided to fire straight to 1250 degrees, so I am keen to see how it goes, but I have to wait until Wednesday to open the kiln. I have 2 more firings scheduled for this residency and now its just time to get some work completed.

Last night I went to Kuwa's house for dinner. She is such a generous and welcoming person. Her home is small, by comparison to Australian standards, but still managed to fit 8 people to dinner. I took a bottle of Australian red wine, and a bottle of sake as a gift for Kuwa. I was told that she likes sake, so I thought I can take a bottle for her, however that is easier said than done, when you don't read Japanese. At the supermarket, I stood in front of what seemed like hundreds of different bottles of what I assumed was sake. I randomly picked one, and hoped for the best. As it turns out, it was a very nice bottle and she was happy.

Kuwa cooked tempura, along with a few other dishes for dinner, it was delicious and as the sake flowed it was hilarious. Who needs language, you just need sake to communicate.

At the back of this image is Kuwa and directly in front of her is her husband, to the right at the front is Ai, my assistant and all the rest are trainee's in the studio.

 

And as the sake flowed so did the chopstick games...of course. And then the, can you do this game

Anyway it was a wonderful evening with new friends and it ended with everyone deciding that they are all coming to my house in Australia for their graduation break up trip.

Thankfully I did not drink too much, so back to the studio for me today.

Bye for now

So cold

Posted by walksally@gmail.com on January 12, 2012 at 4:30 AM Comments comments (1)

So so so cold, its minus 4 degrees here at the moment. Its such a shame that it is so cold because I would really like to explore the area, but I really can't stay outside for very long. Luckily the studio and my little apartment are very warm.

Today I was working in the studio again and here is the progress.  

So my work is progressing well and today I also completed a range of test pieces for a firing on Saturday. I plan to bisque fire these straight to temperature (1260 degrees), which is a bit of risk when using porcelain, however it saves time, not having to fire the work twice. I plan to leave them unglazed as I also have some black clay and want to accentuate the beauty of the contrasting black and white clays. Fingers crossed that the clay survives it, otherwise I will have to rethink the whole process. And as I don't know this clay, it is highly likely to fail, so like I said, fingers crossed.

My new friends in the studio are so helpful, they always have their Japanese to English dictionary on them and it's being very well used at the moment. I was made a special powdered green tea today and had the whole tea ceremony process explained to me.

As I have mentioned before the big supermarket, Apita, is on my walk home from the studio. I visit most nights to get something for dinner. It is fast becoming one of my favourite places to explore. The diversity of food is quite amazing, I discovered quail eggs today, well at least that is what I think they were. It is just such an interesting place. The photo below is just one of 4 or 5 fish stands.

Talk to you all soon

Time for some sight seeing

Posted by walksally@gmail.com on January 10, 2012 at 4:15 AM Comments comments (1)

Firstly let me apologise for no entry yesterday. I worked solidly all day and then the trainees invited me to a welcome dinner. They are referred to as trainees but vary in age from the youngest who is 22 to the oldest who is 54. We went to a bbq style restaurant where we cooked a variety of meats over an open flame at the table. It was very tasty. After that they took me to a small bar for a few drinks.

So here is my work so far...

Today (Tuesday), however is a rest day and the studio is closed. Mr Hattori and Marika took me out sight seeing. Our first stop was the Nagoya Castle, a large castle constructed in 1612 in the centre of Japan to ward off attacks from the direction of Osaka. Unfortunatley in May 1945 during air raids on Nagoya in WW2, most of the buildings, the Hommaru Palace and one main tower were burned down destroying centuries of histroy. Restoration is now in progress to rebuild the entire complex using traditional methods and is going to take about 3 years to complete.

Yep that is me at Nagoya caste. Next we went to the largest shrine in the Nagoya area and I was intrigued by the process which began with purification of the hands using the ladels and the water in the pond pictured below, followed by walking to the shrine, tossing a coin, bowing twice, clapping twice, making a prayer and then bowing once. As it is new year, everyone comes to pray and there were hundreds of people today. It was a very interesting experience.                                                                          

It was at the shrine that I tasted a traditional snack in this area. It was a large crispy flat bread a bit like a prawn cracker to taste. Inside was a freshly fried egg, mayonnaise and some dried spices. It was an unusual taste, but very nice.

The afternoon was spent in the country a 40 minute drive from Nagoya at a place called Asuke-mura. We visited an old town, another shrine and walked along a beautiful river. It was here that I tried another snack food that I do not remember the name of, but is basically baked rice on a stick with a miso sauce. It was delicious.

   

Talk to you all tommorow

still working

Posted by walksally@gmail.com on January 8, 2012 at 6:20 AM Comments comments (2)

Hi all, not to much to report today as I was working non stop in the studio again. I have made some good progress. The photo below is what I was up to first thing this morning. Thankfully they had survived the night with no cracks.

      

I spent today carving designs into these and adding some texture. I will get some more photos tommorow.

On the walk to studio this morning I took a few photos. There were many young girls dressed in traditional Japanese costume. I am not sure what they were doing, but I asked one girl if I could take her photo. She looked so beautiful

  

And finally here is a photo of the Seto Ceramics and Glass Centre

  

And just for a bit of fun I asked how my name was written in Japanese and was shown and told that the characters meant cute. Then I asked about Amy (my daughter) and that was also easy enough and her hame meant beautiful. My son Jack, proved to be quite a difficult name to translate into Japanese. In fact it took 4 people a good 10 minutes of discussion. I am not even sure if everyone agreed. The photo below is the consultation process required to work it out. It seems that there are many different ways to write names.....but Jack is just Jack I think.       

 


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