View the list of international contemporary ceramics competitions, biennales, contests, ceramic festivals and fairs recommended by Ceramics Now in 2014
What made you choose ceramics as a way of expressing yourself?
Clay is as good as any other medium, it is a material with lots of possibilities but it doesn’t influence my personal perception of art. Sometimes because of its limitations in format, in height, due to the measures of my kiln I have to find other solutions than I used before, but that are technical issues. I have also used other materials like papier maché before but the outcome of my figurines would be the same.
What is for you the importance of figurative representation?
It’s the essence of my work. It wouldn’t be possible for me to make work if my thoughts and feelings are not involved. All of them have a meaning and reflect my personal view on society. It’s not necessary for the public to understand it, you can enjoy them without knowing the background, but I need to be able to make them. Some of my works have a spiritual dimension. Love, understanding and insight, the meaning of existence - of evil, the happiness of life and the tragedy of death affect us, but are by themselves invisible. You can see it as a spiritual quest in which I will not flee, but indeed want to decompose and play with. The human figure in this case is the most suitable.
Art no longer has to be “beautiful”, since the beauty of an object is derived not only from its appearance, but also from it’s concept and use. Tell us more about the aesthetic categories embodied by your work, and your motivation in choosing them.
The followers of modernism only repeat a trick, a cheap shock effect - desecrating the beauty. It has been repeated so many times and now it belongs to the popular circuit. An authentic artist is always looking for new styles, new forms to express himself and will not be guided by expectations. The emptiness of existence can contrast strongly with its beauty and vice versa. Beauty, ugliness, two sides of the same coin. It’s the perception of it that counts; something very beautiful can be experienced as ugly when you discover the essence, the inner side of it. Art exists in many layers, for those who want to see it. My work can be considered as superficially aesthetic, but the deeper meaning is of a different order. There isn’t much beauty in the emptiness of an existence as in the Sisyphus series. “L’existence précède l’essence”. Existence precedes essence. (Jean Paul Sartre)
The Human Hybrids series emphasizes a new twist of an old idea. Humans with animal characteristics have been a constant presence in many cultures since thousands of years ago. Compared to their traditional representation, what do you want to express with your works?
Indeed, one of the oldest known is an ivory sculpture, the Lion man of the Hohlenstein Stadel, Germany, a human-shaped figurine with a lion’s head, determined to be about 32,000 years old. Anthropomorphism is assigning human (behavioral) characteristics to animals. After reading an article about genetic engineering, I started on human hybrids. You can make goats, produce cobwebs or grow a human ear on the back of a mouse, etc. These techniques don’t stay within the walls of a laboratory. Since a number of years, you can find genetically manipulated fish in the aquarium trade. A familiar example is the glowfish: a gene of coral polyps was implanted in a zebrafish so that the fish has become luminous. Wherein ancient civilizations, men thought that they could get the spirit of the animal at their sides in the hunt by performing rituals, men now literally attempt to change certain qualities or appearances of people through genetic modification. Currently one is allowed to blend DNA of humans and animals and keep this hybrid alive up to 14 days, and this with the purpose to investigate the study of human bred organs for organ transplantation. There are both positive and negative elements to this evolution, but you can wonder who will eventually be the freak in the future: modified or unmodified humans. I want to start a dialogue about it with the Human Hybrids.
Ceramics/Glass / Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art, Chicago
December 6, 2013 - February 2, 2014
Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art in Chicago (UIMA) presents the exhibition Ceramics / Glass. This exhibit focuses on the medium of ceramic or glass in contemporary art – mediums that require high temperatures, special tools, kilns and specialized studios. UIMA has selected some distinctive personal styles from numerous glass / ceramics studios in Chicago and from artists working in national and international cities.
Brent Rogers, Alex Trommler and Aaron Wolf-Boze are from Chicago, showcasing art glass that was created in Ignite Glass Studios. Ignite Glass Studios (founded 2012) is already building reputation as a ‘hot’ art glass studio in the U.S.. Eric Bladholm is from Chicago Glassworks, a state of the art glass blowing facility and artist’s studio, custom built into a former iron foundry. He will present glass works combined with various metals. Nikki Renee Anderson will present multiple piece ceramic installation and Robert Pulley will exhibit one of his larger ceramic garden sculptures. Both artists are from Chicago Sculpture International and focus on the sculptural aspect of working with ceramics. Michael Janis, an ex-Chicago artist (now Co-Director of the Washington Glass School in Washington, DC) will present fused glass with glass powder imagery. Xavier Monsalvatje lives in Spain and works in traditional ceramic techniques which reflect industrial aesthetic designs reminiscent of the works of Mexican Muralists. Yurij Musatov and Anna Lypko, both from Ukraine, are two contemporary artists working in ceramics.
Susanne Silvertant / Terra Delft Gallery, Delft, the Netherlands
November 30 - December 31, 2013
Connection is one of the most important themes of Susanne Silvertant’s work. Art is a language for her. With her art she tries to communicate and show who she is. This vision is enhanced by scratching signs in some of her pieces. Signs refer to language that cannot be understood instantly. This is the most intense way of expressing herself.
Inspiration she gets in the beauty of rugged nature, a garden, a landscape or the structure, atmosphere and colour of a city. During her travels in Spain and Portugal, Susanne was inspired by in the architecture of ancient civilizations, translating it into her own free way into contemporary and personal designs. In her pieces, Susanne tries to reproduce this layeredness and erosion caused by the passage of time.
Susanne has restricted herself to the raku technique. Since then, this has determined the character of her work to a great extent. Besides her characteristic box shapes, she also makes objects constructed from separate parts. If an object consists of several parts, these must all come out of the kiln intact. If one part breaks, the entire object must be made all over again. Risk, unpredictability and chance are very close in Susanne’s work.
From 2007 onwards she has added sparkling elements of self-cast glass. The clay seems to form itself around the glass. Weathered glass, found along the coastline, served as the inspiration for this development. By melting the glass in fine sand, Susanne succeeds in approximating this weathered look very closely.
The combination of ceramics with copper foil or wire cast in glass, resulting in a visual continuity of the separate elements, enhances the layeredness of her pieces. She adds details from nature to her pieces, for instance a twig, a bud or a beautifully weathered tree trunk, imprinting it into porcelain or glass and incorporating it in her pieces. This way she emphasizes the organic nature of her work.
Gallery hours: Tuesday to Friday, 11.00 - 18.00; Saturday, 11.00 - 17.00.
Keisho-Ha - A New Materialism and the Yufuku Aesthetic / Yufuku Gallery, Tokyo
December 5-21, 2013
Contemporary Japanese art in the 21st century is heading in a new and unique direction.
Exhibited artists: Ken Mihara, Shigekazu Nagae, Atsushi Takagaki, Takahiro Yede, Naoki Takeyama, Niyoko Ikuta, Shunichi Yabe, Masaaki Yonemoto, Takafumi Asakura
Artists are using traditional techniques to create not craft, but objects of self-expression that are very much a type of sculpture that can change space itself. Such artists are pushing the boundaries of their respective mediums to new heights, using new techniques and materials that have not been used before.
Yet when one takes a step back and views today’s world of contemporary art, it is widely seen that concepts are allowed to run free, whilst the importance of technique and actual artistry are left behind and abandoned. Throughout art history, one can consistently observe an element of craftsmanship in fine art, from the statues of Greece to the frescoes of Italy, from the ink paintings of China to the folding painted screens of Japan. Even in expressionist and abstract painting, the works of Monet, Van Gogh, Picasso, Pollock, Rothko, Bacon and Freud were instilled with an element of technique as a priori. Craftsmanship was a given, but was not the sole emphasis. Technique was simply needed to realise the form of self-expression that they envisioned in their mind’s eye. Technique was not a starting point, but was a necessary means to an end. Likewise, I find that the artists affiliated with Yufuku are not technique-oriented artists, even though many of them are renowned for their technical prowess. Rather, for artists such as Shigekazu Nagae and Ken Mihara, the technique is simply a requirement needed for them to create the clay sculptures that they wish to manifest. Technique, again, is a given, and is only a means to an end.
If taken in this light, I find that the term craft or the Romanized Japanese word Kogei (synonymous with craft) is gravely inadequate in fully expressing what these contemporary Japanese artists are actually creating. Their works are not craft works, and they are not craft artists. Instead, they are emancipating their art from the fetters of language and from the limitations imposed by the element of categorisation. Such is the progressive moment in today’s Japan. I call them the Keisho-Ha (the School of Form), and can be also expressed as a New Materialism, wherein technique and material are chosen specifically to create sculptural works imbued with self-expression. This is, in a sense, a Return to Innocence, or a revival of artistry within art.
Today’s Japan is a world where craft does indeed exist vibrantly, and craft is very much alive and well in the likes of the Traditional Art Crafts Exhibition and the Living National Treasure System, along with potters and makers of mass-produced vessels for everyday life. But one cannot continue to categorise the makers of everyday utilitarian tea cups and bowls with the same terminology and language as artists wielding the very same techniques to create works that are worlds apart from these everyday objects. A different expressive process is taking place, and the Japanese are at a loss for properly contemplating and understanding this new movement. To lazily lump everything together as craft or kogei was simply out of convenience, an excuse for the Japanese to stop thinking about the subject that was so obviously unique to their culture, and is so vastly different from traditional Western connotations and demarcations of art and craft.
"The limits of our language are the limits of our world." Yet if such is true, then why not expand the boundaries of our language and properly express what is happening in our world today?
Such is the importance of language and ontology.
The artists assembled in this exhibition are a representation of this new movement in today’s Japan, a movement that Yufuku finds its lifework and reason for existence. This is art. And they are the Keisho-ha. Such is a true return to innocence, an emancipation of art for the sake of art.
Wahei Aoyama, Owner and Director of Yufuku Gallery
Kerry Jameson: Unbounded / Marsden Woo Gallery, London
November 7 - December 21, 2013
Kerry Jameson’s new sculptures have an emotional charge that is presented through a mix of narrative set pieces, tableaux and individual figures. Subjects include historical events and the exploits of folkloric and storybook characters. She derives inspiration from an equally eclectic range of sources, which include portrait paintings, the figures of British myth such as the Burryman and Wicker Man, the work of animator Ray Harryhausen, a fascination with the polychrome religious sculptures of 17th century Spain and the toy collections of the Bethnal Green Museum of Childhood. She explains: ‘A work starts with a thought or feeling, an undigested experience that needs to be worked through.’
She says: ‘I want to capture life in my work, a sense of movement, the feeling of something living… a constant state of transition.’ This ambition is experienced inthe faintly disquieting feeling that one of her figures might just spring into action. It is also apparent in the attention she gives to keeping the material qualities of a piece ‘alive’. Dissatisfied with the seeming permanence of fired clay, she adds layers and detail through the use of other materials to create nuanced effects. In addition to the ceramic base, components of a figure can be hessian, canvas, wool, fur, wood, paint, seeds, stones and sometimes hyper-real glass eyes.
Each of the works is either an imaginative exploration of a possibility or reflects on some human idiosyncrasy. In this world part-animal/part-human characters abound. Scenes from the past are also played out, as in her battle sequence based on Pickett’s Charge during the Battle of Gettysburg - representing a famous military blunder of the American Civil War - thereby reflecting on how misplaced human confidence can override logic and reason. With reference to both her subject matter and approach, Jameson admits to an interest in ‘things that aren’t quite right’ and to ‘things that happen on the boundaries’, rather than on firm, fully rational ground. The predominant aesthetic is that of the uncanny – where objects or ideas are recognised as familiar and at the same time experienced as deeply strange.
Words by Tessa Peters
Gallery hours: Tuesday to Friday, 11:00 - 18:00 and Saturday, 11:00 - 16:00. The nearest tube stations are Barbican, Farringdon or Old Street.
Ken Mihara: Serenity in Clay / Liverpool Street Gallery, Sydney
November 16 - December 12, 2013
Ken Mihara’s ceramics are a visual ode to his native land, Izumo, Shimane Prefecture, known as the capital of the gods; a land steeped in ancient Japanese myths and legends. The vessels are a culmination of elegant shapes, soft delicate curves, and ancient forms inspired by the surrounding land. Mihara’s striking palette of blues and dark greys intersperses with bursts of beige, gold and orange hues.
Using clay rich in iron from his native Shimane Prefecture, Mihara constructs each work through an organic creative process. Each piece is hand formed using a coil and oinch technique to create a strong linear quality. Mihara states: “I consider it my job to help the clay express its beauty”, and likewise, “clay leads, and my hands follow. I do not know what shape my work is going to end up even while I am making it.” (Ken Mihara in conversation with Nishi Keiko, An interview with artist Mihara Ken, e-yakimono.net, August 2002) His most recent series titled Kei (Mindscape) generate a sense of movement and vitality through gentle folding and bending. The vessels feature double-walled interiors that swirl and spiral similar to small galaxies. The outer walls subtly embrace a complex interior; whilst at the same time the compositional tension allows the form to unravel.
Mihara’s most revered series, Kigen (Genesis), are primordial in formation. The structures are symmetrical and balanced, which create a unique combination of subtlety and solidity. The rough, unrefined and grainy surface texture adds to the ancient ambiance. Mihara repeatedly fires the vessels at high temperatures to slowly unlock subtle and soft colours ranging from deep grey to peach to misty whites and purples. Mihara states: “The high degree of chance and serendipity in any firing is far beyond my control.” (Ken Mihara, “Mihara Ken – The power of chance”, Ceramics Art and Perception, issue 73, 2008, p84)
Ken Mihara was born in 1958 in Izumo, Shimane Prefecture, Japan. After completing his studies in 1982 with Funaki Kenji, Mihara participated in numerous exhibitions and prizes. In 2005, he received a grant from Tomo Museum to travel for 6 months throughout Italy, from Milan, then south to Florence, Rome and Sicily. Mihara has been the recipient of many prizes and awards, including the prestigious Japan Ceramic Society Award in 2008; Paramita Ceramics Competition, Paramita Museum, Japan in 2006; The Energia Art Award in 2002 and the Shizuoka Prefecture’s Cultural Encouragement Award in 2009. Mihara has exhibited internationally with SOFA New York, New York (2008), Galerie Besson, London (2010), and most recently with Joan B Mirviss Gallery, New York (2011). His works are held in public collections including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles and The National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. Since 1996, he has been represented by Yufuku Gallery, Tokyo, Japan.
The Liverpool Street Gallery concomitently hosts the solo exhibition of artist Kevin Lincoln.
Michal Fargo: Else, 2013, Porcelain, fired mold technique, fired to cone 6 electric, 12x11 cm. Photo by Mel Bergman.
Michal Fargo: Else, 2012, Porcelain, metal ring, fired models technique, fired to cone 6 electric, 11x7 and 13x8 cm. Photo by Mel Bergman. The second work is sold to the collection of Holon’s Design Museum.
International Ceramic Art Symposium LANDescape / Mark Rothko Art Centre, Daugavpils, Latvia
12-25 August 2013
Deadline for applications: June 30, 2013
International Ceramic Art Symposium “LANDescape” is a new joint initiative of Daugavpils Clay Art Center and Daugavpils Rothko Art Center which emerged from both partner organizations’ activities and co-operation aimed at promoting contemporary art, including contemporary ceramic processes in Latvia.
In the framework of planned ceramic symposium “LANDescape”, drawing inspiration both from Latvian nature and cultural space, as well as personal world, the participants are invited to create unique ceramic art works with their chosen materials and techniques, although there is a conjunctive theme, that indicates „spurting”, „escaping” „getting away”, „political position” etc., as well as being away from what we are used for and „coming from earth or into it” in the aspect of clay - material used.
Symposium is the place and time when artists, being freed from everyday worries and organizing their social life, can get completely drawn in the creative process. This kind of creative work, not only allows ceramists to meet colleagues from other countries and share experiences, but also to divert as much creative energy of the participants as possible towards creation, that may result in unique works of art.
Daugavpils as symposium venue is significant as it is the eastern border city of European Union, which attracts great artists’ attention with the region’s diverse ethnic, culturally historical environment, with deep cultural traditions and where different cultural and artistic links are self-evident. In addition, within Latvia, it is one of the largest border cities and provides a stimulating environment for cross-border artistic cooperation.
1. To collectively create ceramic fire sculpture ensemble, thus improving the cultural space of Daugavpils;
2. To create unique contemporary ceramic objects for Latvian art and cultural space, to create a platform for artists to exchange experiences and generate creative idea, as well as to promote contemporary ceramic processes in the society;
3. To promote high quality contemporary art availability to public, raise public interest in culture, preservation of cultural heritage, to promote the creation of new artworks and their collections.
Symposium organizers’ liabilities:
1. Artists accommodation costs in Daugavpils (hotel and meals);
2. Working studios;
3. Working materials – clay, chamotte clay, glazing, etc.
4. Opportunity to use wood-firing kiln, electric kiln up to 1300 degrees Celsius, as well as a chance to explore different types of individual firing;
5. Publicity (information in mass media, publishing of symposium catalogue);
6. Recreation possibilities: tour around the city and region, visiting educational arts establishments in Daugavpils;
7. Opportunity to present a creative work;
8. Symposium opening exhibition (opening on August 12, 2013);
9. Symposium final exhibition (opening on August 24, 2013).
Application and other materials added should be sent by e-mail at email@example.com
Contact: Valentins Petjko, +37120207533, firstname.lastname@example.org
First edition, October 9 - November 3, 2013
Applications deadline: May 30, 2013
Cluj International Ceramics Biennale is the first contemporary ceramics biennale organized in Romania, and is aiming to become an international meeting place for ceramic artists. Artists from all over the world are invited to apply and participate at the biennale with their ceramic works. Apply now (Applications deadline: May 30, 2013).
Expressing artistic sensibilities using the means of ceramic art is on a growing scale amongst artists all over the world, and in the last years the contemporary ceramics field started to be seen as a contribution to the major arts. The first edition of the biennale has the potential to change old mentalities, focusing on the contemporary context and presenting the diversity of concepts and techniques in the innovative field of contemporary ceramics.
Cluj International Ceramics Biennale (CICB 2013) is organized by Ceramart Foundation and Ceramics Now Association, in partnership with Cluj-Napoca Art Museum, the University of Arts and Design Cluj-Napoca, and The Romanian Fine Artists Union. The ceramics biennale will be held in several locations in the city of Cluj-Napoca, Romania, during October 9 - November 3, 2013.
The CICB’s goal is to become a contemporary meeting point for ceramic artists from all over the world. This artistic event will introduce the Romanian public to contemporary ceramic artists, practices and new concepts in the field. The biennale will also get round national and international institutions to work together with the aim of creating a living environment for ceramics in the city of Cluj-Napoca.
The profound changes in the world today, whether socio-economic, political or techno-scientific, have strongly influenced the artists’ search for new ways of expression, and engendered a change in how the creative act is viewed, both in terms of means of expression and in terms of message.
Sensitive to the slightest changes of artistic canon in the global Agora of contemporary arts, ceramic art evolves toward an interdisciplinary and integrative strategy. The new concepts that are gaining ground in the field attest to an aesthetic simbiosis with forms of expressivity specific to other artistic fields, while at the same time, retaining and accentuating - an experimental development specific to the field. The outcome could form an ingenious and resourceful alchemy.
For more information, please read more on www.ceramicsbiennale.com or email email@example.com
The jury for the first edition of CICB:
Zehra Çobanlı - Artist and Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts, Anadolu University, Eskişehir, Turkey.
David Jones - Artist and Senior Lecturer in Ceramics at the University of Wolverhampton, England.
Les Manning - Artist and former Vice-President of the International Academy of Ceramics Geneva and Founding Director of the Banff Centre for the Arts, Canada.
Cristina Popescu Russu - Artist and Vice-President of the Romanian Fine Artists Union, Romania.
Ting-Ju Shao - Artist and writer, former committee consultant for the Taiwan Ceramics Biennale and Taipei Ceramic Awards.
Blazenka Soic Stebih - Artist, President at KERAMEIKON and Director of the International Festival of Postmodern Ceramics and Ceramica Multiplex, Varazdin, Croatia.
Arina Ailincăi - Romanian Fine Artists Union
Marius Georgescu - University of Arts and Design Cluj-Napoca, Ceramart Foundation
Vasi Hîrdo - Ceramics Now Association
Călin Stegerean - Cluj-Napoca Museum of Art
Gavril Zmicală - Romulus Ladea Fine Arts High school
Molly Hatch: REVERIE / Philadelphia Art Alliance, United States
February 7 - April 28, 2013
"In a continued effort to claim the functional surface of the dinner plate as a painting surface, REVERIE includes a new collection of historically sourced plate paintings. In response to the domestic nature of the galleries at the Philadelphia Art Alliance, I have designed “Tea for Two” a historic teacup inspired fabric wallpaper installation.
For REVERIE I worked closely with curators at The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA to source their largely unviewed collection of historic teacups for “Tea for Two”, a fabric wallpaper installation. The story of Francine and Sterling Clark personally collecting hundreds of teacups over a lifetime now housed in the Clark Art Institute archives resonated with my own personal Metcalf family history of collecting and coveting decorative arts.
Rather than seeking source material from an additional museum collection for my new plate paintings in REVERIE, I chose to mine my own family’s collection of ceramic objects. My own family history of collecting resonated with the Francine and Sterling Clark cup collection. Thanks to the generosity of my family, my new plate paintings will be exhibited alongside the originals on loan for the duration of the exhibition.
REVERIE is a personal exploration of the relationship between the historic and the contemporary with artworks crossing over categories of decorative art, design and fine art. Fascinated by how we live with objects, how and why we acquire objects and what happens to them throughout history, I see this exhibition as a reflection of the life of surface pattern through the decorative art continuum.” Molly Hatch
“No art is simply, blithely contemporary. That would be like saying our parents had no influence on us. Today’s art responds to and reacts against yesterday’s art. Hatch serves up the magisterial landscape on a grid of 30 hand-painted ceramic dinner plates. The grid of circles cleverly breaks up and abstracts the scene, but doesn’t abandon its coherence. Indeed, it spotlights the mark-making.” Boston Globe Review of COVET: Modern Riffs on Old Ideas by Cate McQuaid, May 30, 2012
Artist and designer Molly Hatch grew up on an organic dairy farm in Vermont surrounded by a startlingly diverse set of visual influences: the earthy reality of rural life, and the mysterious, disembodied luxury of antique decorative objects from her mother’s family, prosperous Boston merchants who used Chinese export porcelain as ballast in their ships. Inspired by these two seemingly disparate family narratives, Hatch became an artist with a life-long passion for the decorative arts and the dialog between old and new. She has developed a robust studio practice that encompasses both works of art and design for industry, keenly aware of the different concerns and goals of each, while engaging with the ambiguity of objects that seem to exist in both the decorative and fine art realms.