Ten countries, ten ceramicists: The International Ceramics Festival 2015

| 30 June 2015

Ten of the international ceramicists appearing at the 2015 International Ceramics Festival in Aberystwyth this weekend

The UK’s leading festival of ceramics, the 2015 International Ceramics Festival, takes place at Aberystwyth Arts Centre on the mid-Wales coast during the weekend of July 3-5 2015.

The well-established festival has become a highlight on the crafts calendar since its launch in 1987, offering hobbyists, leading potters and ceramic artists the chance to meet distinguished international practitioners.

Now established as one of the world’s greatest ceramic events, the festival features live demonstrations of techniques and talks from distinguished international practitioners from a variety of ceramic practices.

Here are ten of the international ceramicists appearing this year.

UK: Gareth Mason

a photo of a rough stoneware jug with crosses and other abstract motifs with gold around its collar
Gareth Mason, Secret Keeper (2011). Stoneware
Gareth’s work contains a paradoxical mix of discomfort and familiarity, pleasure and pain, beauty and beast. He will be 'in the moment' at the Festival with several different clays, a wheel, his hands and the accumulated knowledge of his practice and life. His performance will be accompanied by a free-form and wide ranging narrative in which audience input will be key.

Gareth says: “I will end up with a very incomplete but (probably) intact vessel, possibly quite large, adulterated in various ways by means of my physical intervention, a blow torch, and a certain haphazard drama.”

India: Vineet Kacker

A ceramic artwork of a folded Arabic cloak that looks like hillside with a temple on top of it
Vineet Kacker, Landscape II. Stoneware
Vineet draws upon Eastern philosophies and art and architecture referencing the sacred, especially from the High-Himalayan regions of the Indian sub-continent. He will be planning to recreate his 'Landscape' pieces at the Festival, in which there is an organic, striated landscape base, with an architectural stupa-like form on top. He will be working with soft pliable clay that is stretched and quickly shaped into undetermined organic forms.

Vineet says: “Both my formal architectural training, as well as my travels through the Himalayas inform my work. These two influences have a direct bearing on my making process. From the architecture side comes a process of building and embellishment, of working with set clay slabs, of putting several separately made parts together.”

Philippines: Rita Gudiño

a photo of a golden Buddha like figure sat within a furnace aperture
Rita Gudiño, Lual Unveiled© Monique A Ignacio
Rita draws from the strong, as well as the most mundane, experiences to create her work. She is motivated to express and share the many aspects of herself through art: as a wife, mother, teacher, administrator and artist. She will be building a sculptural LUAL kiln and firing it in a performance firing during the Festival. This will be a raku kiln in the form of a woman giving birth to the clay figures fired within during a special performance on the Saturday. She will be also hosting a special workshop on June 23 to make clay babies to be fired in the kiln during the festival.

Rita says: “The objective is to transcend the firing process into the art form itself. LUAL is a work that is no longer an object but a process. It will create the conditions for an experience, revealing the metaphorical assertion that the force, power, primacy and anticipatory wonderment of kiln firing is birthing. LUAL is a ‘Magnificat’ to the woman’s role in bringing forth life, which is nothing short of being a miracle, offering life to yield life.”

France: Thiébaut Chagué

a round rust coloured vessel with a hole through its middle and shell imprints on its surface
Thiebaut Chague, La Piscine
Thiébaut creates unique wood-fired stoneware sculptural pieces. In 2009, he built a giant clay sculpture which he fired in the courtyards of the Victoria and Albert Museum to mark the opening of its new Ceramics Galleries.

Thiébaut says: “Pots, such humble objects, are universal and timeless and link mankind in all places and at all times. Learning to have the patience and perseverance to reach the wellspring of creation, loving through the intake of breath and returning to the wellspring and not losing one’s thirst.”

Canada: Tony Clennell

a traditional jug vessel with single handle and marked mottled green finish
Tony Clennell
Tony has written more than 55 articles for ceramic journals and is exhibited in museums in North America, Europe and Asia. He recently self-published Stuck in the Mud, a book of irreverent tales for the clay community.

Tony says: “My work is about a love of process. The marks of the maker and the fire are what I love to leave in the work. The biggest compliment I have ever received about my work is ‘this doesn’t look like pottery’ - whatever that means. I like to think my work could be enjoyed by the visually impaired. Their hands would be able to examine and enjoy the work on a tactile and textural level.”

Thailand: Naidee Changmoh

a photo of a prone, naked ceramic figure surrounded by rough-hewn bowls
Naidee Changmoh
Naidee is mainly known for his large-scale cartoonish monk figures. He also makes free form sculptured cement huts as art living spaces. His work is influenced by the Buddhism he practices and the joy and innocence of children.

Naidee says: “For many years I’ve been working in a kindergarten. My artworks were inspired by the kids; their pureness, cuteness, full of happiness; their beautiful energy influences me to create my work. I keep doing my work in relation to Buddhism to keep my mind not too far from peace. I use cartoon forms to create my positive thinking out of the artwork.”

America: Tip Toland

a ceramic model of a large naked African lady reclining on her side on a bench
Tip Toland, Africa
Tip is a full-time studio artist and a part-time instructor in Seattle. She also conducts workshops across the United States, Europe and the Middle East. She will be creating similar pieces to her recent ‘Echo’ work at the Festival.

Tip says: “With a few exceptions, each figure I make is a stand-in for an aspect of me, making my work largely auto-biographical. I begin by sketching thumbnail drawings without any editing. It is when I revisit the drawings later and notice the figures which hold energy for me that I begin to flesh them out. Many details come to the foreground as the piece evolves however the emotional, psychological make up of the character is evident from the beginning. Although they originate as an aspect of me, over the process of being made they seem to take on their own sense of self, pointing me in the direction of how they want to become.”

Spain: Sergi Pahissa

a photo of two ceramic vases with mottled green patterns and small necks
Sergi Pahissa
Sergi is part of the Müll collective which creates sculpture kilns from recycled materials. He also combines ceramics with other artistic disciplines such as scenic arts, theatre, performance, sculpture and recycling. He will be making an exciting sculpture kiln for the 2015 Festival using locally sourced scrap materials, accompanied by Quim Rifà and Emilia Musiał.

Sergi says: “My interest about the ceramics firing process started in 2010. At present, I do workshops to create big ceramic pieces and alternative ceramic kilns. In my last kiln creations I worked with cans and paper, this technique allows me to build bigger format kilns.”

Netherlands: Bouke de Vries

a photo of a couple of Chinoiserie-style vases one of which resides in pieces within a clear glass vase of the same shape
Bouke de Vries, Memory Vessel pair
Bouke reclaims broken pots after accidental trauma to form his artwork. At the festival he will be giving a lecture describing how he developed his career making these sculptural pieces from broken ceramics using the skills he first developed as a ceramics restorer.

Bouke says: “I call it ‘the beauty of destruction’. Instead of reconstructing them, I deconstruct them. Instead of hiding the evidence of this most dramatic episode in the life of a ceramic object, I emphasise their new status, instilling new virtues, new values, and moving their stories forward.”

Serbia: Velimir Vukičević

a small ceramic artwork resembling folded paper with strips of grey and blue paper within it
Velimir Vukičević, Beautiful Garbage
Velimir is perhaps best known for his geometrical and ‘trompe-l’oeil’ porcelain pieces. His focus is on creating sculptural objects and he also enjoys painting porcelain plates. He will be sharing his beliefs that many ceramic procedures that may be considered as technological mistakes can be utilised to become a part of personal approach and practice.

Velimir says: “I am trying to think about and strive towards the adventure of the future. I wish to believe that the dynamic development of human civilisation and ceramics as its integral part will not abandon individuality, creativity, imagination, emotion, or the feeling for clay. Those qualities are of great importance for me and my work.”

  • Passes for the Festival weekend can be booked online via the internationalceramicsfestival.org or by telephoning Aberystwyth Arts Centre’s ticket office on 01970 623232. Weekend tickets are £135 (concessions available); single day tickets start at £75.

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