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newsletter of ceramics sa eastern cape

winter 2016

Letter from the Chair


Thoughts from my studio


John Shirley Workshop


Regional Exhibition


Call for entry 2016 Biennale


Michelle Legg workshop


Programme for the rest of the year 11. Tania Babb workshop


New members


Tips and tricks


General information

Front cover: Michelle Luyt This page: Richard Pullen


Letter from the Chair I recently watched a programme on BBC World. It was one in a series “handmade on the silk road”. The final episode showed a potter from Meybot in Iran, making his pots. Interestingly, they have also been flooded with cheap ceramic products, slowing down sales of their traditional ware. I was fascinated by the ancient process, passed down by generations (from the eighth century BC). Digging the clay, blunging it, drying and wedging, before throwing on an electric wheel, decorating and then left to dry. The bats seem to be made of rather irregular bisque ware slabs! The glazing process involved grinding down glass in a huge grinder for ten hours until it looked like flour! This was mixed with tree sap and then “spooned” onto and into the pot before firing.

The kiln appeared to be a large hole in the ground - he had to use a ladder to take his ware

down there. Covering the hole with loose bricks and rubble was interesting, especially when it came to uncovering and making sure that none of the detritus fell down onto his pots! He explained that his son was studying ceramics - there are classes now for the younger generation. How spoilt we are with our present day ceramic processes - buy the clay in the bag - just need to wedge and off we go with all the bells and whistles to make it easier for us. Although we have worked hard to take part in the Regional Exhibition, we really have it easy compared to these traditional potters. We showed our best ware at the Regional Exhibition and it was an outstanding exhibition of very diverse work from novices as well as experienced ceramists. We had good sales with Bretten Ann Moolman working hard to sell our work to clients near and far. Some ceramists have also picked up new leads for sales. It is always interesting to see what happens when you are prepared to take part in exhibitions and put your work out there. Margie Higgs was once again the superstar in doing so much work to make it all look professional with Billie Mcnaughton assisting, Donve Branch and Nina Joubert came in to set things up. Now it is on to the 2016 Corobrik National Ceramics Biennale. Another opportunity to exhibit outside of our area and the exposure for all our members will be great. So, get your apron on and get creative! Put your best work out there in Johannesburg.


Thoughts from my studio:


Here I go banging on again about selection! Our Regional Exhibition for this year is over and we now are faced with the upcoming Nationals. This naturally led me to think of selection, and the associated fear of rejection. Selection criteria becomes a thorny issue, and there will always be some disappointed that their pieces did not make the cut. It is very hard to accept that the work you slaved over with love and precious time was by others considered substandard. But, at the outset it is important to remember that it is the work and not the artist that is judged. The selection is not personal; it can never be. It is an impartial assessment of all aspects of the piece - conception, technique, form, glaze, etc. Sometimes a pot has no major fault, but fails as a whole due to an accumulation of subtle imperfections. In combination, a minor glaze blemish, a weak shape, a hairline crack, may together push a pot out of contention. How do we critically judge our efforts without being blinded by a new technique or shape? We may be so excited by overall result that we are blinded by weaker aspects. Remember also that selectors are no always perfect, and they can be conservative, and what makes your heart soar may not move them at all. But they have experience, and their body of work has been developed over many years and is usually held in esteem. They have been chosen as a selector for a reason, and it important for you to learn from the selection process; to ask questions and develop your own critical faculties and aesthetics. There are a few questions that we should all ask of ourselves as we head towards another selection: o

Is my piece good based on my own perspective, or would others recognize it as good?


Are there others doing similar work, and would they give a valued critique?


Does the work have ‘voice’? It may talk to you, but will others hear the melody?


Are you completely satisfied with it? Are you confident that this is of your best?

It is helpful to have a group, or even a mentor, who will give you an honest opinion. Much as you love them, family and most friends will not be objective. Will they be able to say ‘No’, or (and perhaps more importantly) will you listen. Remember also that ceramics is a difficult art, and will their opinion be based on sound knowledge? Good luck for the National Exhibition, and may other awards come to the Eastern Cape. We might be a small group but we rock the clay!

Donve Branch








Regional exhibition 2016 at Art on Target, Port Elizabeth

Clockwise from top left: Bianca Whitehead, Liz Sanchez; Margie Higgs, Dianne Castle, Lee Hensberg



Clockwise from top left: Richard Pullen, Martin Sycholt, Saabirah Hendricks, Billie McNaughton, Lynnley Watson


Clockwise from top left: Mandy Qomoyi, Rose Hobson, Donve Branch, Pieter-Jan Kilian, Jessica Hansen, Lisa Walker. Above: Lydia Holmes





Michelle Legg workshop in East London Some weird and wonderful heads were made on Saturday 2nd of April at CVD Framers and Gallery in East London. Michelle Legg inspired many with her creative workshop on the Terracotta Heads of Lydenberg. Michelle is an award winning ceramic artist who is inspired by African traditional ceramics and European Lace. She is an expert in Saggar fired work. Strong forms and good proportions are important elements of her work. After a short slide show and history of the famous discovery of the original Stone Age art, we set about creating our own stylized self portrait terracotta head adorned with personal symbolism or iconography. The technique Michelle demonstrated of slab building was very quick and we soon had a base shape with which to create our personal figures. We were encouraged to use personal charms or mementos for visual reference.


9. After a delicious lunch we explored the technique of sgraffito and wet paint techniques as well as impressions to adorn and decorate the surface of our sculptures. The end result was an amazing variety of heads from ones resembling their creator to others with flowers or sculls. Thanks Michelle for a wonderful workshop. Louise Pietrucci


Programme for 2016 31 July 2016 - John Shirley Workshop in East London August/September - Workshop on creativity with Nic Hauser (date and place to be announced) 15 August - 15 September - Submission of images for the National Biennale We are trying to squeeze in a weekend pit and smoke firing jamboree somewhere in October! Date and place to be announced 23 November - Workshop by Sasha Wardell - Visiting international presenter

9 November - The Corobrik National Ceramic Biennale, Johannesburg

Cape Pottery Supplies sponsors of two regional exhibition awards

Kiln Contracts Building, 11 Celie Road, Retreat info@capepotterysupplies.co.za 021 7011320 http://www.capepotterysupplies.co.za

Tania Babb Workshop in Port Elizabeth Tania Babb presented a most enjoyable and appreciated workshop for us the day after the opening of our Regional exhibition. Tania uses two different construction methods in her delightfully distinctive work. The “IKEA” method, as she describes it, using cones cylinders and balls to assemble her fat legged ladies and any animals, and firm slabs for their couches etc to recline upon. Whilst the slabs firmed up Tania set about demonstrating her modular method of putting the sections of a lady together with participants following suit. They discovered how the actual positional placement of each piece gave subtle changes to the form of their figures. Not wedging or using slip, the soft clay straight from the bag soon became voluptuous ladies….and not even hollow! To make the two dimensional forms, Tania cut two silhouettes of a couch and reclining lady. She flipped the one and then joined together using the scratch and slip method. The two sections were kept apart using newspaper and then indented or pushed outwards to acquire the needed shapes. Tania used a wooden skewer to make marks where she would later use underglaze/oxides to complete the work. Lack of studio space has led her to place the finished piece immediately into the kiln to await firing. To speed up the drying she at times switches on to 90 degrees for an overnight soak before firing to full bisque temperature. Tania proved herself to be a true teacher in so generously sharing her knowledge and expertise with all participants. Margie Higgs



Welcome to our new members‌ East London: Rami Bachar Marguerite Barnard Les Felmore Martin & Annalie Sycholt

Knysna: Rosemary Hobson Denise Crain

Grahamstown: Noelle Obers

Port Elizabeth: Saabirah Hendricks




From our Whatsap group…Richard Pullen shows us how to make a plate hanger…

Suppliers of ● Kilns & kiln accessories ● Potters wheels & accessories ● Decorating & sculpture tools ● A wide variety of earthenware & sculpture clay Tel: 021 8393300 Cell: 0845855022 Fax: 086 237 3214 Email us at news@kilnsandclay.com to receive a price list.

Just follow the visuals from the top left …

Should you wish to obtain high quality images from this magazine or your Regional Exhibition work, please email lydia@rgholmes.co.za

lydia holmes - chair 0835649430 lydia@rgholmes.co.za donve branch - v. chair 0833262842 donve1@telkomsa.net

margie higgs - treasurer 0837279454 margiehiggs1@gmail.com lisa walker -workshopcoordinator 0825169220 deanlisa@mweb.co.za bianca whitehead - non-committee student liaison 084 257 3073 bianca.whitehead@nmmu.ac.za louise pietrucci - east london rep cvd.framers@gmail.com 043 726 1449


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