STUDIO TOUR- Petrus Spronk: Master, muse, mentor.

Sunday 9 November 2014

We here at Clayspace Daylesford are very very lucky to count amongst us the amazing artist, Petrus Spronk. He is teacher, mentor, muse and he suffuses our little group with thoughtful calm. He has a special place in our wood firings- the zen master who can get up at four a.m to slowly place one twig at a time on the newly lit fire. This is no mean feat, believe me, all you want to do is keep feeding and building that fire, especially on wintry Daylesford morning! 

When my husband found out that I was working with the artist responsible for the sculpture below, Architectural Fragment, outside the State Library of Victoria, he was speechless probably for the first time in his life. He told Petrus that next to Michaelangelo's 'David' it was the most memorable sculpture he had encountered. So it goes Michaelangelo, Petrus. Petrus' response was, how do I get to first place?

 Most people when you mention that sculpture exclaim some variation of 'oh I LOVE that sculpture' and so it is with the man himself. And with his pots. Oh the pots.

Petrus' Black Earth studio is nestled on Bald Hill, at the forest edge just outside of Daylesford. When I first went there I asked Petrus how many acres he had he replied, as far as I can wander...

Everywhere you look there is beauty and there is art. Little pieces of sculpture placed lightly but purposefully through the garden. Seating situated for peaceful contemplation. You can feel that this is life as an art form.

The studio itself faces the forest, which is so verdant and rain forest like you could almost forget where you are and expect to see monkeys come swinging from the trees. You are surrounded by peace and growth and beauty. All things being constantly brought into  petrus' work.

Petrus uses traditional burnishing techniques learnt from the Pueblo Indians of New Mexico to decorate his work and a low tech wood-firing system for firing his finished pieces. His bowls are 'contemplative objects' not to be used as containers but rather for the 'appreciation of the empty space inside'. 

This particular bowl is called 'The infinite journey along the edge of the bowl' and it comes from the Inner Landscape Series. Petrus has offered this bowl as the top pledge in our Clayspace Daylesford Pozible Campaign. (click on the link and check out the video footage of Petrus throwing!)

 Pledging means you will receive this incredible piece of Australian ceramic fine art, that Petrus says 'I hope will bring some stillness and meditativeness into the space where you intend to display it. It was made with a similar attitude and in a similar atmosphere in my studio'.

 You will be supporting the future ceramic artists of our region by committing to this fantastic community project. And as a bonus, its also sound investment in a well known and recognised artist for below gallery pricing. Win!

I hope you have enjoyed this little peek into the studio of Petrus Spronk. Over the coming weeks I will be featuring the studios & surrounds of some of the other Clayspace Daylesford artists, so stay tuned if you like that sort of thing :)

and if you'd like to learn more about Petrus, you can head over to his blog, Slow Looking.

The Clayspace Daylesford Annual Exhibition

Sunday 2 November 2014

On Friday night we held the opening of the Clayspace Daylesford Annual Ceramics Exhibition. It's an exhibition open to all of our members and showcases ceramic work from across the Central Highlands region and pieces from beginners right through to masters.

After a day of organisational madness and nervous creative chaos, which included being told we had no power (lucky we had those big bright west facing windows!) and having four of the artists deliver their work an hour before the guests arrived, we managed to pull everything together at the last very last minute.

 And before we knew it, the place was packed! Red stickers were going up, the wonderful local band Mana was playing (with the help of a very long extension lead), the champagne was flowing, and smiling happy people were all about.

But the pots were the stars...

From beginners...

To masters.

 and everywhere in between.

We screened the video we made to accompany our pozible campaign and in doing so launched the project and threw ourselves at the mercy of the crowd funding gods. Its a beautiful short movie, you really should watch it :) but there will be more about the campaign in my next post.

It was a truly beautiful night, filled with all of our favourite things- beautiful art made with  passion, lovely friendly happy excited people, music, community and of course food and wine! Oh and this guy. He's local visual artist Kevin Smith and he's a bit of a legend. He had ten years using this amazing space as his studio back in the day and the stories he told were killer. Thanks Kevin!

And thank you to everyone who contributed to this magic night, from organisers and artists to everyone who has been through the exhibition in the intervening days and shown their love! The overwhelming support and positivity surrounding this event has made us wonder why this space isn't a permanent artist run gallery space? 


Monday 27 October 2014

Hello and welcome to the Clayspace Daylesford Blog! We are bunch of potters, or ceramic artists, or just clay enthusiasts, from a picturesque small town in rural Australia. Obviously, this is our very first post, so I thought I'd spend some time talking about who were are (as a group, I'll introduce the individual artists later...) and why we do what we do.

In 2010 we came together to create the Daylesford Regional Ceramics Cooperative- a not for profit organisation with the aim of providing support, resources and community to anyone interested in the ceramic arts. We are a group of ten or so core organisers plus around fifty members from across the region.

We are passionate about our relationship with clay. Its a wonderful medium to work in for so may reasons. Obviously its tactile and sensual. Its earthy and grounding, and we believe it can be quite transformative and healing. Its uses and applications are incredibly diverse, creating an art form that is ever evolving and expanding. Potters are forever learning and growing, forever experimenting and expanding their knowledge & skills. I am constantly astounded by the remarkable things some artists manage to do with clay.

That's an attractive prospect don't you think? You could never be bored, you will always be learning? Its important to stay curious & keep learning I right? Pottery also comes with an incredibly long and remarkably varied history which is fascinating to discover. Carrying on this art form allows you to feel connected through the ages to potters throughout time- a lovely feeling in itself. The prospect of travelling the world and finding little potting villages is pretty attractive too- and I'm sure you will see a lot of that on this blog in the future.

Okay so there's some reasons why we love it. I guess because we love it so much we want to share it. We want to share it amongst ourselves, discussing our own work and our own progression, but we also want to share it with others. Living in a small rural community, although its very conducive to making art, can sometimes feel a little bit lacking in the arts department. We want to do our bit to share our passion and our knowledge with the community. We want to teach kids. we want to introduce it to adults who need something creative in their life. We'd like to use it help heal, perhaps for a group with dementia, or social or mental health issues.

It can be expensive thing to get started in too, so we hope that by sharing resources, like our kilns, studio space and other equipment we can make it more accessible and doable for anyone wanting to get their hands dirty and have a go. 

Lastly, we know that as a group we can achieve great things. 

In the next few weeks we will be launching a new and exciting project, and I will be bringing you studio tours and insights into the artists behind Clayspace Daylesford .Thank you for joining us on this journey. Anyone who would like to get involved, or wishes to contact us for more information can email us at: 

Photography in this post by the wonderful Tim Burder

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Saturday 25 October 2014

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