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cover image: Itsue Ito (Japan), detail

t he I n te r na ti o n al Cer ami cs St u d io K ec s k e m é t. H u n gary k eep in g c o n ta c t w ith t h e ceramic co m m uni ty • • • •

Masterclasses Focus on Ruthanne Tudball Masakazu Kusakabe The Value of Artist Residencies - Clare Twomey • Aage Birck - New life for forgotten tools

ICONIC IMAGES . . . from the collection

Imre Schrammel





Welcome to the second of our new style newsletters for 2012. Each issue is downloaded by over 1600 ceramists, potters, teachers etc. The first of our mastercourses comes nearer to starting. Full information is now available on the website. Markus Bรถhm brings many years of experience and a new approach to wood firing. Markus demonstrates the technical foundations to achieve those effects without a several day firing in an anagama. Markus will give technical informations about clays, glazes, packing and firing as well as about kiln design and kiln building. Five very intense days with a laid back wood firing in the middle. Dates of some of the mastercourses have been unavoidably changed. Please check the new dates.

Our Mastercourses are continuing to prove popular and applications are still being accepted. If you would like to participate in any of these courses, led by internationally acknowledged artists, then please email for an application form as soon as possible. The studio is pleased to welcome back Masakazu Kusakabe again this summer after his successful kiln building workshop in 2011. This year he is leading a three week worshop to experiment with glazes specially designed to enhance the effects of this wood firing, smokeless kiln. Places are now available and details are on our website. If you are considering a residency with us then please email us for further information and an application form. We accept applications at any time but to ensure your preferred time slot please apply as early as possible.

New Masterclasses added for

The value of an artist residency at ICS is highlighted in this issue featuring installation artist Clare Twomey. The second in the series featuring artists who have contributed works to enrich our ceramics collection highlights the work of Danish artist Aage Birck, an internationally respected saltglaze potter. We are always trying to expand the breadth of the work done here at the ICS and welcome your comments and suggestions. We would be pleased to receive short articles from past residents about their experiences on courses or residencies with us which can be included in future issues. Please email Steve to discuss your ideas or send copy to


see page 5 for details 3


MASTER CLASSES 2012 Our popular series of short mastercourses continues in 2012 with six week long courses and one three week summer course. Please visit our website for full details and prices of all our continuing education courses. Costs for the short courses are 150,000 Hungarian forints and include accommodation in single room, teaching, use of equipment and the materials.


Wood fire effects in Short Firing wood kilns Markus Böhm

Creative throwing and Soda glaze Ruthanne Tudball

16 - 20 April, 2012

1 - 7 May, 2012

Many potters like wood firing because of the very lively and natural painting like surfaces made by flames, so that the ready piece is a record of the whole making process including the firing. Markus Böhm teaches the technical foundations to achieve those effects WITHOUT a several day firing in an anagama. Five very intense days - with a laid back wood firing in the middle.

For intermediate and advanced throwers with basic knowledge of the wheel. Exercises which will stretch and challenge your approach to throwing and will offer an opportunity to practice stretching your imagination and originality in your approach to form and decoration. This will be combined with soda vapour glazing.


Sculptural throwing Shozo Michikawa 8 - 14 May, 2012 Experience one of Japan's leading and most innovative ceramic artists in a five day master class. Shozo is an excellent teacher and and inspiring world class ceramic artist. Shozo will be demonstrating his unique process of cutting and faceting work that is then expanded on the wheel to produce his dynamic sculptural forms. Each student will have a wheel and will be able to explore these new techniques alongside Shozo.

Figurative mouldmaking Ilona Romule

Paperclay techniques for sculptors Rosette Gault

21 - 27 June, 2012

29 August - 4 Sept., 2012

During this 5 day workshop, Ilona Romule will demonstrate her stepby-step approach to design, model and mould making, describing how she transfers factory technology to a studio environment to create unique porcelain figures.

“To gain expressive and technical freedom, I created an optimum balance of recycled paper pulp (cellulose fiber) and clay that allowed me to invent or rather ‘realize’ a system of non-linear construction and mixtures that are impossible with traditional ceramic clay to be fired in kilns. I was first to introduce these so called ‘radical’ and ‘revolutionary’ technical and expressive freedoms.”



NEW MASTER CLASSES for 2012 Costs for this short course is only 150,000 Hungarian forints and includes accommodation in single room, teaching, use of equipment and the materials.

Inlay Coloured Porcelain Susan Nemeth 2 - 8 October, 2012 My porcelain ceramics are inspired by historical textiles and wallpapers. Sometimes I find my patterns in the backgrounds or details of paintings by Henri Matisse, Paul Klee, Ben Nicholson, Eva Hesse and others. The decoration is integral. Laminated sheets of coloured clays inlaid with hand cut patterns, are beaten, rolled and stretched over moulds. (The vases are slab-built.) Forcing a form from one single flat sheet of clay ensures a simple shape. Buried in sand to prevent warping, the pieces are fired to their limit, to achieve a smooth, matt, vitrified surface.

Csurgai Ferenc - Alchemy of Space Masterclass for concrete sculpture beginners and advanced

See through, look through, reach through. The state of waiting and seeing. Ferenc Csurgai is the alchemist of space. First of all as a painter because the colour, the tone and the surface are the basic tools of the painter. And as a sculptor, because the shape consciously growing from itself and the space is the alchemy of the sculptor. The main characteristic of these sculptures is that they can be viewed from any direction. When you approach them there is no 'front' or 'main' view. One needs to go around and explore them from each and every direction.

Ferenc Csurgai will demonstrate and teach the ground breaking techniques he uses to find new ways of creating sculptures using nothing but concrete.

Beginners course October 10 - 16, 2012 Advanced course October 18 - 27, 2012

Please email for application form -



FOCUS ON Ruthanne Tudball

“I see my work as a potter as an active participation in a way of life that is celebrating the beauty of the world around us and the intimacy of human relationships, enjoyment, caring and warmth. I try to use clay with honesty and integrity and hope people respond with their hearts.”

“Manipulating soft clay on a revolving wheel and feeling the material respond to the merest touch is like setting out on an exciting journey for me. The dialogue that goes on between the maker and the clay is carried out through the use of the pots. You pour, you eat, you store, you serve and you drink from them, and sometimes you just contemplate them. All of my work is thrown and manipulated while wet on the wheel. In an attempt to capture the softness in the finished piece, I do very little turning (trimming), and when the turning is done, it mainly happens at the soft stage. After firing that softness can still be seen. Sodium vapour glazing emphasises the marks and rhythms of making, picks out every line. My inspiration comes mainly from the natural world around me and the energy in the evolving landscape, celebrating the rhythms and creative forces of the earth and the human body. Drawing, particularly life drawing, is an essential activity for me in the training of my eye and developing my inner sense of form and keeps me thinking about the life in a pot. When I am throwing I often picture the moving, dancing model and try to capture that imagination. Observing and touching the surface qualities of such diverse things as the sculpture of Brancusi and Giacometti, water, sand and stone, ancient unglazed vessels next to highly glazed ones, the profound inevitability of the landscape and the drawings of Rembrandt all feel the creative spirit. Work which concerns itself with the highlighted areas and shadows, shiny and matt surfaces and textural qualities punctuated by the play of fire and vapour is what I endeavour to achieve. We are inherently defined by what we do and what we potters do with clay identifies who we are. I see my work as a potter as an active participation in a way of life that is celebrating the beauty of the world around us and the intimacy of human relationships, enjoyment, caring and warmth. I try to use clay with honesty and integrity and hope people respond with their hearts.”

Ruthanne Tudball’s mastercourse

CREATIVE THROWING AND SODA GLAZE takes place 1st - 7th May, 2012. Please email for applications




To hold a Masakazu Kusakabe teabowl is to hold the quintessential spirit of the universe in your hands. The thick, porous Oribe glaze of the vessel feels warm to the touch while the curves and crevices of your palms and fingers comfortably rest around the uneven walls of the bowl. The green and black glaze and vessel shape transmit the intensity and energy of the artist. You may also hold a teabowl with wood

Kusakabe imbues his ceramic vessels and tea ceremonial wares with his love of nature, his interest in astronomy, and his deep spirituality.

tried and tested recipes for a variety of wood-fire glazes using his Smokeless Kiln. Masakazu Kusakabe’s kilns produce traditional ashglazed surfaces in relatively short firing cycles with no smoke. He is the co-author of "Japanese Wood-Fired Ceramics", the first comprehensive English-language guide to ‘yohen’, the Japanese classification of wood-firing effects, colors and surfaces. Cost of this three week workshop is 260,000 HUF and includes, accommodation in single room, studio space, tuition and three group firings in the smokeless wood kiln included. The extra costs will be for the clay you use.

ash glaze that embodies its chance encounter with ash that resulted in variegated shiny and matte surfaces on the vessel walls that resemble the heaven filled with stars. Discover the traditions, techniques and technology behind Japanese wood-fired ceramics. Masakazu Kusakabe shares everything you need to know to begin or improve as a wood-fire ceramist with his

three week workshop with


18th June - 6th July, 2012. Please email to apply as soon as possible. 7

Installation artist, Great Britain

Artists in Residence Clare Twomey, 2005



Clare Twomey is a British artist who works with clay in constructing large-scale installations, sculpture and site-specific works. Twomey, known for her work in ceramics as an ephemeral and temporary medium, investigates the nature of a material usually considered permanent and stable by creating interactive installations that produce feelings of surprise, wonder, joy and introspection. The temporary character of Twomey’s installations has taken different avenues - objects of unfired clay returned to their natural state when rain and other elements dissolved the forms, or thousands of fired clay components dispersed by museum visitors.

During her time at the International Ceramics Studio she formulated and consolidated the ideas and processes for her major installations realised during the next few years. “Temporary,” installed at the Northern Clay Centre, USA in 2006 and in the Shed, Galway, Ireland in October 2011 was first ‘unveiled’ on the kiln shed wall (image above) here in Kecskemét one cold morning in 2005. These raw porcelain casts of Polaroid photographs were adhered to the wall with water, painted with ink and then heavily sprayed with water creating the random, ghostly images which appeared as the ink and clay surfaces were eroded.

In 2005 Twomey was artist in residence for two months, exploring new possibilities and techniques. below: “Temporary.” the Shed, Galway, Ireland, 2011.



During the same residency Clare Twomey found two small porcelain birds on the Kecskemét fleamarket. These mass produced Chinese treasures were moulded by her and reproduced in white and blue porcelain, a small series of which were left for our permanent collection. ICS aims to provide conditions for open and unconstrained artistic work. This can involve individual studio work, researching and experimenting for future projects or personal reflection. Our facilities allow for all kinds of artistic expression including preparation for new site specific work. “Trophy” was a temporary installation created in the Cast Courts of the V&A Museum; the museum wished to engage with ceramics in a unique way and to encourage interest in non-traditional approaches to material specialist interests. Clare Twomey’s installation comprised 4000 birds made from Wedgwood Jasper blue clay and displayed throughout the Cast Courts; the work considered the nature of

the building and its historic role, to permanently hold a valuable collection for public view. Providing an opportunity to interact with new work and new ideas, residencies initiate dialogue, facilitating conversations and creative reflection. The value of dedicated time and space for creative reflection that an artist residency allows may initially seem a luxury but can have a valuable input into the creative future and individual growth of an artist practice. Twomey’s birds could be taken away, creating a unique activity in a museum with visitors being able to ‘steal’ an object from the V&A’s collections. By collaborating with Wedgwood in their production, Twomey attributed a sense of history and worth to each individual bird; the audience perceived them as precious and desirable.

Text and images extracts courtesy of Clare Twomey website.

“I chose this particular bird because I liked the cobalt colour – which reminds me of the decoration on the traditional Japanese ceramics I collect – the jaunty angle of the tail, and its particularly sharp beak. He’s now living on my bookshelf with other miscellaneous objects, including Japanese and Indian gods, a Statue of Liberty cow and pink Eiffel tower. I took the bird cause I really like the pointed beak and the tail. This breed of bird looked like it was a more proud bird, defending its patch.” They were placed in the Victoria & Albert Museum as a gift. Visitors who came on September 29 were allowed to take a bird. Greedy visitors took two or three. As a result these birds have travelled far and wide. Since Twomey’s show these birds have become valuable commodities, even trading in boxed sets on eBay.



AAGE BIRCK Aage Birck first visited the ICS in 1988 as part of an international Saltglaze symposium. His early works in the collection consist of thrown vase and urn forms with additions of bamboo. In his later visit in 2002 he was concentrating on sculptures with worked in “ready made” items mostly in the form of craftsman’s tools. “My aim is the perfect balance between the chosen object and the ceramic form, exploiting the special expression of the salt glaze. The sculptures are built up with slabs into multi edged forms. Sometime the edges have an oblique angle to the base and the lines change angle between body and neck, which at the same time give the vase a perfect balance or a disturbing crookedness depending from the angle from which it is looked upon.” Lisbeth Tolstrup writes . . . “For many years, Aage Birck collected things that caught his attention, either for their form

The second in a new series featuring international artists who have worked at the studio and created important works to enrich the ICS CONTEMPORARY CERAMICS COLLECTION or because of their narrative qualities. If these things showed traces of use or wear from their former function this was welcome. Some of these found objects are animal remains, e.g. a bone or a tooth, worn down by many years of use. Other pieces may be special tools, such as might be used by artisans, hairdressers, doctors or laboratory technicians. The objects all have in common their expression, signs of wear and their function, which they have lost by the fact that they had been put away or had lost their original purpose. For Aage Birck, the challenge consists of seeing them as part of a new whole.”

Some of Aage Birck’s works from his visit in 1988 (left) and 2002 (right).



Since 1965 Aage has shared a workshop together with ceramist and sculptor Heidi Guthmann Birck. In 2009 he was awarded the Westerwald Prize for saltglaze ceramics. "It has been a great experience for us to be at the ICS and it even surpassed my expectation. You have created a fantastic framework for working with clay and the equipment is second to none. The place is, in its whole architecture, a visually inspiring place but most of all - and the really important - is the fantastic spirit of the place." .

“The beauty of a worn-down tooth, signs of wear on a special tool or traces of ageing on a metal or wooden object. In addition, there is the form of the object. Many objects that form part of his art have a form that is complete in itself. Rounded, pointed or distinctive in any other way and speaking for themselves. So distinctive that he decides to integrate these forms in his ongoing experiment to create sculptural space. He identifies the beauty of the tool and thereby the evolution behind the form. He could choose to leave it there. Make a nice little exhibition in a corner of

his studio and then enjoy the beauty of each collected piece. But that is not enough. He absorbs the form, he is challenged to build a new identity within each piece by combining it with his own artistic expression. He once explained that the creative process consists of redesigning the original form by means of sketches and stencils, thus progressing to the new form. A young student in Kecskemét once put it like this: "New life to forgotten tools."

Some of Aage Birck’s works from his 2002 residency.



Why Artists in Residence ? LINDA LIGHTON (USA) “Our accommodations were excellent and the working environment superb. It was a time for total immersion in the process of clay and expanding thinking about my subject and mythology. You provided a really superb environment. Most importantly was the chance to know Hungary a little and meet other artists from Europe in an intimate and nurturing environment that makes my world a little bigger and the wide world a little smaller. You perform a great service in bringing the world together. ICS is a wonderful tool for making the world a smaller place. Kecskemét and Hungary should be proud to have a retreat like ICS.” - Linda Lighton (USA)

the INTERNATIONAL CERAMICS STUDIO . . . keeping contact with the ceramic community

ICS WEBSITE MAILING LIST If you would like to be added to our mailing list just email We do not pass on your information to anyone else. EMAIL ICS Steve Mattison - Residencies and International Contact Kormos Emese - Hungarian and exchange student contact

International Ceramics Studio H-6000 Kecskemét Kápolna u.1. Hungary

FACEBOOK Photos and news are available on Facebook. Go to the link below and click “like”.ét-Hungary/111911072158918


March 2012 - News and information from the International Ceramics Studio, Kecskemet, Hungary