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Internation Ceramics Festival, Aberystwyth: part 2

This is just a snapshot of some of the other things that caught my interest during my stay over the weekend:

Who could not have been impressed by Annabel Diaz?

Just the scale of her large self-portrait figures were not rivalled by anything else at this festival. I was especially taken by the way the handled the clay during the coiling process. I could have watched for hours the way her hands shaped and patted the large coils and the smoothing and scraping with the inner husk of a corn-on-the-cob. Her figures remind of a three-dimensional fusion of a large buddha and one of Fernando Botero's women, except that her's are much more sympathetic depictions of the female form. However, I didn't really like the sculls that she had on display in the Demonstrators' Exhibition. These lacked the warmth and immediacy of her other figures.

We obviously had to attend the Emerging Makers Award presentation and visit the accompanying display. Not only could this be one of us in future but we also wanted to show our support to Lanty Ball who, as the last recipient of this award, had to give a talk about his time spent at the Archie Bray Foundation in Montana.

Having seen the work of all four short-listed applicants and having listened to their presentation I didn't really have a firm favourite. I think each of them would have been a deserving winner. However, I did wonder how emerging or established these applicants really were. All of them seem to have been receipt of other awards, had exhibition and are already quite established. Anyway, Emily Waugh won this time and I'm sure she will be making most of the time she'll be spending at the Archie Bray Foundation.

Radical Craft seemed to be sort of fringe exhibition which only included very few pottery pieces. I could not appreciate every piece exhibited piece, especially some of the fabric based pieces, but it made a good point giving a platform for what some people may consider outsider art, which quite often bridges the gap between fine art and craft.

The two ceramic artist included in this show were Shinichi Sawada from Japan and Terence Wilde from the UK. Both of them were represented by a group of figurative sculptural pieces. In both cases these combined qualities of primitivism with sense of childlike surrealism.

There is strong link in imagery between Terence Wilde's figures and his drawings. The slightly nightmarish quality of his figures is easily explained as he says himself that “I took a drawing to a therapy session. It helped me to communicate my internal struggle and to have a deeper understanding of my situation. Now I draw as part of an ongoing cathartic journey. Creativity sets me free from anxiety, trauma and obsession. I lose myself and in the process, discover who I am.”[source:] I like the monochrome graphic quality of the surface decoration of his figures.

Shinichi Sawada's figures seem just as private and just as unreadable. Each of his figures is covered in thornes which is like an embodiment of privacy and defensiveness. But as Sawada is autistic and handicapped he may not be able to express what his work is about or just doesn't choose to share it with the public. For me the beauty in these piece is just their total ambiguity. They could have easily been made centuries ago a distant part of Africa and not in 21st century Japan.

Shinichi Sawada

Of course, there were many other things going on such as:

More talks, exhibitions and presentations.

The cup sale and wondering who bough mine.

Socialising into the late hours.

Resisting the urge to spend too much money in the trade tent.

Brief visit to the beach & a fabulous pint of bitter.

The obligatory Welsh men's choir opening their concert with 'Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika'!

And lots of laughter and singing in general!

The trip back home through the beautiful Welsh countryside.


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