Kick wheel versus electric wheel, Mediterranean wheel, versus Japanese/American wheel: the debate about which is the best goes on steadily at La Meridiana. The gentleman in the picture has tested many types and found this very popular model adequate for a diverse use. Please do share your opinion on behalf!
Visual artists have always been inspired by images of other artists work and ceramicists are no exception. There are so many considerations to make when looking at ceramic work. Shape, texture, surface, concept, imagery, expression, it all speaks to us, even in the reduced form of a bi dimensional image. In the live of La Meridiana there has always been great consideration of the importance for everybody to develop an own visual vocabulary, and one of the best learning tools is to look at work, and through reflection and discussion get new insight and awareness. Pietro Maddalena has started to gather up images thirty years ago, with first criteria: does he like it? It has evolved in an incredibly rich collection of 7000 images that now he has carefully re-selected and divided in categories, to make it available to students and enthusiasts. First slot of the images are found here. Let us know your reaction! http://www.lameridiana.fi.it/ceramic_images.htm
Whoever has attended a workshop at La Meridiana will never forget our chef Lucia. Her skill is not only to combine flavors in an alchemic exploit, but equal attention is paid to the colour and consistency of each dish.
When Robbie Lobell maker of beautiful an highly functional flameware pots came to La Meridiana two years ago, it was the perfect encounter: Lucia fell in love with Robbie’s vessels and obviously Robbie fell in love with Lucia’s food.
Flameware pots are made with a “flameproof” clay that is designed to withstand extreme temperatures. These pots can go directly from the refrigerator to a hot oven and back again without cracking and Lucia agrees that the food tastes better when cooked in clay pots. Below one of her favorite recipes, which you may prepare also in a regular pan. Maybe you want to make your own flameware posts ad dishes? The join Robbie in October 2013, for her second workshop at La Meridiana. No better place where to combine love for food and love for ceramics! Find out more here: http://www.lameridiana.fi.it/pottery_workshops_robbie_lobell_43_13.htm
And about flameware: http://cookonclay.com/
And more of Lucia’s recipes: http://cookonclay.com/recipes/
LUCIA’S LENTIL SOUP
200 g lentils
200 g potatoes
½ lemon juice
3 spoons of olive oil
Put oil in a saucepan on medium fire
Pot Lentils and stir
After 3-4 minutes add hot water until covered. Then add also the potatoes in little pieces. Let cook for 40 minutes. Use the blender to make a puree. Add salt, lemon Juice and water if needed, also fresh tomatoes in little pieces.
in Houston! Every year this conference is a chance to meet new and old friends and to make connections with future faculty. We are excited to announce that Richard Notkin will be teaching at La Meridiana in 2014. He has studied in depth the foremost Italian Relief makers of the past, the Della Robbia family and will build upon these influences to draw inspiration for comment and contents of the works students will make. See below the piece he has at the Museum of fine arts in Houston. Jason Walker, sculptor with affinity to Richard Notkin will be co teaching in this insightful workshop.
Sourcerer, magician, stregone, alchimist – who is that, weighing and mixing unflaggingly oxides and minerals, pouring from bowl to bowl, to create the ultimate suspension? John Colbeck is probably the most important potter and instructor to be involved over the whole lifespan of La Meridiana, and it is 32 years now. He has taught legions of potters to throw, but beyond the technique, to understand and love ceramics. His teaching has been highly influential, wherever he has taught. Back at La Meridiana after several years, his throwing master workshop in August 2012 has continued a tradition of remarkable workshops, interrupted due to his own intense projects . The benefits of his vast knowledge however will be available to all future students: presently he is organizing the La Meridiana glaze library!
His tests on high and low fire clays will lead to an ultimate choice of luscious glazes – understandable and repeatable, a huge support when planning and making whatever ceramic object!
John Colbeck’ s next workshop at La Meridiana: http://www.lameridiana.fi.it/pottery_workshops_john_colbeck_34_13.htm
This year we have started in time to heat up the pizza kiln and get out the winter humidity. It’s the appropriate way to finish a ceramic workshop and continue to foster creativity with beautiful reds (tomato sauce) whites ( mozzarella ) blacks (olives). Check out this new pano from La Meridiana.http://www.360cities.net/image/making-pizza-at-la-meridiana#325.40,37.00,70.0
There is a small town in Italy that is a Must for ceramic lovers. The city of Faenza has been Italy’s most famous ceramic center — so much so that “faience” earthenware is synonymous with painted, low fire ceramics around the world. On the eastern side of the Italian boot, it is only a three hour train ride away from Florence.
Now I am not sure if I should call this ride adventurous, comfortable, easy or breathtaking! Probably a bit of all. Certainly it’s off the beaten tracks.
The roadways have been built at the end of the 18th century crossing the back spine of Italy, the Apennine mountains, quite a monumental realization, with bridges and tunnels in carved stone . Today most travelers use the fast train via Bologna, but this small, two coach train trails off slowly on winding ways and does offer gorgeous views of little known, wilder mountain landscape.
Upon arrival in Faenza two fabulous museums and many ceramic studios are there to explore:
MIC – International Museum of Ceramics in Faenza – www.micfaenza.org
The Museum was founded in 1908, as a reference point for ancient, modern and contemporary ceramics in Italy and throughout the world. Here the opinion of Marta Matray:
“..they have an unbelievable collection of pre-Columbian
pots, roman and Greek pots, Asian pots, renaissance,
majolica, modern (Picasso, Matisse, Chagall, etc)
the best of European ceramics collection, winners of
their yearly international competitions since 1935!”
Museo Carlo Zauli – www.museozauli.it
For centuries Maiolica (majolica in English), was the sole medium of expression for local artisans. Until Carlo Zauli came along, an innovator with explosive influence. The museum offers an anthological itinerary of the ceramicist’s live and work of innovation and experimentation one of the most important ceramic sculptors of the twentieth-century, from the early 50’s to the 90’s.
are qualities you will find in students that venture abroad. Yesterday the third group of students has arrived for a three month study, live and art making experience in Certaldo Alto, welcomed by the major, the Certaldo alto community and by an inspired welcome speech hold by Pietro Maddalena:
Life on earth binds us people to one another; none of us is here without the
other, so I would like to begin by paying homage to each of you and thank also all those anonymous workers, makers and thinkers that throughout the millennia have transformed this part of the world into such a beautiful place where we can nourish our intellects and souls. They have paved the path that leads us all here today, where we can forge new friendships, expand our human qualities and pursue a unique learning experience.
My name is Pietro. I studied as an engineer first and then, in England, as a potter. I have been, with great satisfaction, a maker all my life. I have been sharing my knowledge for more than 30 years running a ceramic school. It has been an endlessly fulfilling experience.
So why are we here? I believe it’s for education. What does education mean? Here are a couple of definitions: Education is the progressive realization of our ignorance.- Albert Einstein. Education is an admirable thing, but it is well to remember from time to time that nothing that is worth knowing can be taught. -Oscar Wilde
It seems to me that education has a two-fold function to perform in the life of man and in society: one is utility and the other is culture. Education must enable a man to achieve with increasing facility the legitimate goals of his life. At a time when our society changes so fast and technology is overwhelming your effort in education will give an invaluable lifeline to the past. And the past does matter. History has shaped the way we view the present , and therefore it dictates what answers we offer to exiting problems.
Whether it’s climate change or terrorism, economic recovery or the spread of nuclear weapons, the defining challenges of our time are shared challenges. The only way forward, the only way to solve these problems, is by working together. That is why it is so important for young people to live and study in each other’s countries. That is why, each of us, should develop the habit of cooperation, by immerging ourselves into someone else’s culture, by sharing our stories and letting them share theirs, by taking the time to get past the stereotypes and misperceptions that too often divide us.But you all know this. That explains why you are here.
What can I say but “bravo” !!!!
When questioned about intercultural development, 98 percent of respondents said that study abroad helped them to better understand their own cultural values and biases, and 82 percent replied that study abroad contributed to their developing a more sophisticated way of looking at problems and in considering solutions.
The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows. So in conclusion let me make a couple of recommendations: Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant. Do not follow where the path may lead. Go, instead, where there is no path and leave a trail.
But, above all, keep shooting for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.
Find out more about study abroad at La Meridiana:
The idea of appropriate or preferential media has hamstrung thinking about what constitute art today. Since the Renaissance, fine art expressions have traditionally been classified – until the 1960s, that is – as painting, sculpture and architecture. Painting, for the most part, was oil, tempera, watercolour and gouache. Sculpture was hewn of stone or wood, or fabricated or cast from various metals.
But media proscriptions for artists began to dissolve early in the twentieth century with the impressionists. Paul Gauguin experimented with ceramics; Matisse used coloured paper; Chagall made pots; and Picasso and others added newsprint, sand, and other materials to their art. As Africans had done for centuries, Europeans were suddenly free to use divers and non-traditional media in their artistic expressions.
But even as media restrictions were fading, the rules regarding utility continued. From the ‘70s onward, even though fine-art objects could be fabricated from all manner of unique and non-traditional materials, “fine art” could not be utilitarian. Located in museums around the world are countless objects of art that incorporate utilitarian values.The effects of these fabrications has been long lasting and detrimental. Potters have had to struggle against being classified as merely artisans or crafts persons rather than artists.
Much of the antagonism over the “art” and “craft” is about perception of value as it relates to both media and expressive intent. Perceptions of what constitutes art have dramatically changed over the years. One big problem is that contemporary artists do not universally share the definition of art and of beauty. In fact, many artists today often create objects disassociated from the concept of beauty. If there could be a short definitions probably it could be: Beauty is that pleases the senses and exalts the mind. And while it is true that pottery possesses sculptural attributes such as volume, depth, positive and negative space, shape and richness of surface, pottery is not, and can never be, sculpture.
To appreciate a work of art is not a particularly difficult undertaking but to discuss about visual art is difficult because artists use a plastic language to convey emotions and ideas. Artists use lines, shapes, colours, patterns, textures and images as their alphabet. This makes for profound difficulties in saying why there is such insightful meaning in these expressions.
Art has been, with a few exceptions in the last century, and still is about the creation of beauty. Notwithstanding the discussions presented by many modern day philosophers and critics, this concept has always been and continuous to be a cardinal motivating force for artists.
In a pot, each visual element contribute a “particular” voice in the pottery expression. Each form, technique or material has with it associated meaning and emotional consequences. Round against square, smooth against rough, white clay against red clay. Porcelain , for example, speaks of purity, coolness, rarity and preciousness, while red earthenware clay suggests a more common earthiness, warmth and softness.
The inspiration to elucidate a specific ceramic form arises from deep within each potter. This power cannot be superficially acquired and is the seed that shapes the flower of expression. All aesthetically successful pots are complete, whole and unified. And herein lies another series of harmonious relationships that must come into play. The centre of balance and location of spouts, lids, handles and lugs are instrumental in the efficient use of the pot and contribute to its beauty.
In considering pottery, the varied sensory impressions produced may startle us in their immediacy and impact. It is only after careful, earnest consideration of the visual orchestration before us that a glimmer of intellectualised understanding may occur.Inexperience in seeing, in knowing, or in doing may blind us to what, for some , may be obvious. These deficiencies can be a barrier to understanding and appreciation. To see the richness , subtlety and complexity in the best of these pots requires effort and focused attention.
As we know the Renaissance started to differentiate between art and crafts expression. Works produced by a fine artists were seen as unique, never to be repeated or duplicated. By contrast pottery meant for practical purposes was produced on a communal basis in guilds, pottery villages or as familiar endeavours. The success of a pot was dependent upon the incorporation of many skill sets by many people who formed, decorated and fired the work. But this communal orientation (with little exceptions) helped to promote a schism between art and craft expressions. The lingering effects of this fundamental difference in the nature of “artist” and “craftsman” still exist when evaluating the aesthetic worth of pottery.
Today, we live in an era where individual art, largely unfettered by tradition or social conformity, is the norm. And surely there is no place for utilitarian values which are so inherent in pottery expressions. This brings us to the question of education and training of potters today.
Since a formal master/apprentice system, for the most part, no longer exists, potters receive their training in universities and colleges. This system is far removed from traditional, historical, craft-oriented practices where utility was an important consideration in the evolution of pottery form.
The values represented in the repeat work of historical folk pottery are not commonly encouraged in these institutions. Indeed, content is often emphasised at the expense of skill acquisition or utility. While it is crucial to exercise rigorous discipline in order to enhance one’s pottery skill level, it is not considered a particularly creative enterprise. But the acquisition of skill provides for expressive potential that can only be imagined by those without those abilities. Literally hundreds of pots must be made for the craftsman to acquire the skills necessary to reach a level where intuition may speak transparently.
While historically the division of labour contributed to an enhancement of skill level and rapidity of learning, the contemporary potter is compelled to become expert in all phases of pottery production. This requires a tremendous amount of disciple and time. Since so few potters are trained in universities and colleges in the traditional fashion, aspiring potters must exercise extraordinary self discipline in order to perfect their craft.
The creative potter is not blindly repeating shapes, but exploring specific form types in a subtle and sophisticated fashion. Some imagine that potters make the same thing again and again but there are so many variables in the process of ceramics that it is impossible to create two objects with identical characteristics. The balance between the repetition required to produce forms that spring fresh from the hand and the repletion that drives the life from pots is a precarious one. Only truly creative artists resist succumbing to the deadening of the spirit. And this is the case whether one is an artist or a potter.
It is only at the very end of the ceramic process that the potter may recognise the one piece that embodies all the formal elements cohering in an exceptional aesthetic fashion. This recognition can only occur when the door of the kiln is opened after the final firing. Some may suggest that few differences may appear among twenty similar tea bowls. But this apparent lack of distinction may be a result of inexperience or lack of knowledge on the part of the observer. Like any kind of connoisseurship, years of observation and study can foster a discriminatory ability that is both enlightening and sometimes frustrating because of how few artworks truly satisfy.
The repetitive ritual of producing multiple aesthetic forms based upon an idea as simple as a “bowl” lends its own voice to the potter’s work. Repeat work contributes its own cadence and insight. By being attuned to the subtle variations and minute changes that arise when working, with clay, slips, glazes and the kiln day after day, the potter reaches for secrets normally hidden in that first tantalising experience with clay.
Coupled with the expressive meaning lying dormant in the soul, one finds that the potter’s repeat work can produce art work that, indeed, stands the test of time and can be imbued with the power found in any great work of art.
The following article is an arbitrary short version of the concepts and ideas generously treated in his book by artist/potter, instructor and lecturer Kevin A.Hluch, author of “The Art of Contemporary American Pottery” edited by Krause Publications.