1) On your homepage you are described as enquiring into the 'spiritual traditions of the Orient' - which traditions are these specifically? And how do these investigation manifest themselves in your work?
I was once a devotee of the spiritual Master OSHO who has now passed. His teachings embraced many Oriental mysteries including various branches of Buddhism (especially Zen) and the Sufi mystics. He devised many meditation techniques himself and made extensive commentaries on many Masters down the ages.
I am now guided by AH Almaas who combines Sufi teachings with contemporary Psychology.
None of this is directly apparent in the work as I am not involved in prosyletising or employing symbology. Also, I rarely make any personal or biographical references in my work, my art is 'objective'. I do feel though that the years of spiritual enquiry has made me more available to translate landscape themes with passion and deep regard for the land. The meditation has evoked a longing to connect with the timelessness that I call Geological Dreaming; infusing Geological Time with the mystery of Aboriginal Dreaming. These are all personally held feelings that find a way into the work indirectly or esoterically, I do not try to represent these notions.
2) Do you follow the work of - or are inspired by - any other artists?
Yes. I have a variety of influences and because my work covers a wide range of explorations the influences shift. The landscape pieces ironically are more influenced by Australian Landscape Painting traditions rather than any ceramic artists. I have studied the early painters more because they painted the land before there were too many buildings or other man made additions. When my 2 dimensional work commenced I was interested in the land as it was before recorded history, the "Story of Weathering"....that occurs over Geological Time...
3) The surfaces of your landscape pieces are fascinating - how do you create these surfaces? What tools do you use? Is colour applied as underglaze or glaze
I apply the clay to plaster beds in a slurry form and texture it from the outset. While it is still wet I apply coloured slips and do all the drawing and forming details. I have a vague idea of glaze design at this point and need to have the relevant slip underlay in place. Particular glazes respond better with the right slip underneath. It also means I can produce greater variation from each glaze.
I do not use underglazes.
Soon after that I cut the panels and then allow the work to dry. It takes about 8 - 14 days depending on weather. The main tools are spatulas of various widths and a knife with a point.
4) To what extent do you plan your works before you begin them? How do you carry out this planning (e.g. sketching)? How much do your pieces rely on the 'accidents' that can occur during firing and glazing?
Originally I did a lot of field research, travelling, mainly with a camera. There is a period of drawing in the studio recomposing from the photographs onto paper. Then I loosely translate that drawing onto clay slurry sheet. I still draw first but the images are becoming more abstract and include intuitive topographical perspectives.
5) How do you begin work on your pieces (i.e. what is your first step)? Do you create the full landscape and then divide it into panels, or do you cut the
panels first and then create a joined landscape?
6) What is the role of the panels in your work? Why panels rather than one complete piece? Does this quietly refer to tectonic plates and the possibility of movement between them?
Large pieces of ceramic are harder to manage generally. These panels are not so thick, so are vulnerable.
However my vertical divisions started years ago when I had studied Japanese folding screens and I was fascinated with the way Japanese painters swept their imagery across the folds without reference to the formal divisions. It has just 'stuck' and I prefer this way of 'crack management' rather than any other. It has become a signature.
If you like to read tectonic plates into all that, it is fine with me, that suggests you have read something of my intention. Interpretative freedom for the viewer is an important part of the engagement.
7) How are the ceramic panels mounted onto perspex? And how is this panel then mounted onto the wall?
The panels are attached with silicon. The pieces are possibly hung outside too. I have rings into the perspex that can be hung on a normal gallery hanging system. The entire piece can be 1,2 or 3 modules depending on size or my evolving design ideas. Usually works are displayed about 6cm off the wall allowing light to enter the void behind and exploit the transparency of the perspex.
I hope that's not too many questions - I feel as if I'm overloading here. If I
am, feel free to answer as few as you like! Thanks again, for your time and
your help, and also for the offer of the CD. I really appreciate your
generosity. And, let me say now before I forget, your works are both intriguing
and inspiring. I think they're beautiful in a distinctly raw and powerful way.
Thanks for the compliment Gillian.