My Ceramic Journey
I began my ceramic journey in the late 90’s sort of by accident! The way best things often happen.
I worked for the next 20 years on and off studying under various ceramic artists and masters in Spain, Australia and Italy. I took time in between to travel and explore the world.
Although a painter of female nudes first, over the last years I returned to my passion of ceramics. This saw me build my first ceramic atelier with private gallery, kiln, wheel and all that goes with it. I took part in workshops and local exhibitions to further my knowledge and experience. I was a successful part in the Noosa Open Studios (Australia) for 3 years in a row from 2016 to 2018 (Noosa Open Studios).
I have used most of my time to experiment with different clay bodies, glaze making and blending, and most recently, the ‘crackle’ method through sodium silicate. In addition I’ve worked with a little with raku and wood firing, mixing clay bodies such as groggy clay and porcelain, effects of the same glaze over different clay bodies and currently, single fire. And always trying to improve my wheel throwing!
My passion for ceramics is infinite and there is always much to learn! In 2017 I spent 5 weeks in a bespoke ceramic residency in Tuscany with an acclaimed UK potter as my tutor, as well as renowned Italian sculptor. My journey blissfully continues delving into the world of ceramics, its generous potters and where they come from.
“We are all cracked pots, perfectly imperfect.”
My Cracked Pots and Dancing Skirts
In today’s world we are continually being compared to (perceived) perfection. I am constantly exploring ways and techniques with my ceramic forms to emulate how perfectly imperfect we humans all are, as are my cracked pots. A lot of feeling, reflection and experimentation goes into the hand creation of every vessel. Each one to some degree reflects my personal inner search.”
Born in Denmark and raised in Australia, I spent 15 years in southern Spain honing my painting talents of the female nude when I discovered a new passion, working with mud!
I have worked on and off with clay for over 20 years. I am mostly self-taught though I have taken part in many classes and worked one to one with various world class tutors on my extensive nomadic travels. I have studied with ceramic experts in Spain, Denmark, Australia and most recently, in Tuscany Italy during a 5 week ceramic residency with a leading UK potter.
I look at my recent body of ceramic ‘crackle’ vessels, Dancing Skirts, as an ongoing exploration; a combination of self, possibilities with raw materials and inspiration drawn from nature and the natural environment around me. I love nature, trees and critters! So from there comes an innate love of earthy, natural and organic forms as can be seen in my ‘cracked pots’ and ‘dancing skirts’. The very character of clay is its complete unpredictability and I love (and sometimes loathe!) the spirit of clay to always engage and emerge in its own way.
A visual artist for 25 years, clay has taken preference due to its vast versatility and potential. It lets me extend myself in a way I feel is not quite there with painting. Over the past 4 years my work has evolved into perfectly imperfect organic forms reflecting us as humans, by using the ‘crackle’ method. Although mostly contemporary and sculptural I maintain usability with all my creations.
1997 – Parador Nerja Spain – Solo
1998 – Sala Bako Torre del Mar Spain – Solo
2000 – Balkon Galeriet Odder Denmark – Group
2001 – Precinct Gallery Berry Australia – Solo
2001 – Forest Gallery Batemans Bay Australia – Group
2001 – Bower House Milton Australia – Solo
2001 – Michael Cummerford Gallery Milton Australia – Group
2002 – Boyds Gallery Sydney Australia – Group
2004 – Galeria de Arte Margetson Nerja Spain – Solo
2007- Cultural Centre Frigiliana Spain – Solo
Feb 2016 – Galeria la Rubia Noosa (ceramics and paintings) Australia – Group
Mar 2016 – Ceramic Centre for Excellence Cooroy Butter Factory Australia – Group
Aug 2016 – Noosa Open Studios (ceramics and paintings) Australia – Solo
Sept 2016 – Royal Queensland Art Society Brisbane Australia – Group
Oct 2016 – Kenilworth Arts Council Australia – Group
Mar 2017 – Bespoke Ceramic Residency Tuscany, Italy
Aug 2017 – Noosa Open Studios (ceramics and paintings) Australia – Solo
Feb 2018 – Noosa Regional Gallery (ceramics) Australia – Group
July 2018 – Ignition Ceramic Exhibition Nambour Australia – Group
Aug 2018 – Noosa Open Studios (ceramics and paintings) Australia – Solo
Oct 2018 – Eclectia Ceramic Exhibition Noosa Australia – Group
Below are examples of my work, the most recent first, from the past 3 years:
Nomadness – The Hummingbird
Bali – Jan to March 2019
It’s been raining all day. And it’s fitting. That I sit here on my 2nd last day of my 2 month Nomadness in Bali during Nyepi (that’s like Chinese New Year but Bali style) which means 24 hours shut down, total silence as in no speaking, no leaving the grounds of where you live/stay, airport closed, no internet, no one allowed on the roads, no lights on – you get the picture.
So on this day of total silence (all 24 hours of it!) it’s fitting that it’s raining. Slow and steady. Calming. I feel like it’s cleansing us all – humans and nature alike. A fresh, clean start. All you can hear is the rain and the birds twittering. I’ve decided I want to come back in my next life as a bird. They always seem so happy and can just flit from one place to the next in moments. That would suit my Nomadness don’t you think?
Apart from that, it’s said that all birds are little Angels. And I like that. I had one come and visit me early this morning. A tiny, little, sulphur bellied bird (whistler I think). I think it had stunned itself flying into the glass and I saw it in the kitchen sink, by the scrubbing brush. I thought it was an avocado pip! When I moved the brush it nearly scared the bejeezus out of me as it flew up and sat on top of the kitchen lamp.
It’s little chest was going a hundred miles an hour. Poor little love. Sat there for at least 20 minutes or more. I like to think it was there for me – for both of us. To give a little mutual healing. He for having stunned himself and me recovering from a 3 night stint in hospital (a first in my life!). Pesky little amoebas – or amoebic dysentery. I don’t recommend it. I’m on day 5 of recovery and that’s after leaving the hospital. I never get sick! Nomadness indeed!!
Anyhoo, back to the cute little hummingbird. He still chirped away though didn’t move his tiny feet so I stood there and had a little chat with him, saying I’ll give you some healing if you give me some. And I think we did. I was terrified he’d fall over and die but he got perkier and perkier, started looking around as though for a direction to take off. You could just see it. And then in the next second, off he went. That’s me too I thought, I’ve turned a corner now from this dark, danky, horrid space I’ve been in and nothing is going to keep this warrior woman down!
Travelling solo is not easy despite how exotic and wonderful my Nomadness may sound and look to others. It has its moments like anything in life. Especially when you’re ill far away from home and friends, in another country, travelling in between destinations.
Picture this: you’re lying down in the car passenger seat. Your driver has decided he’s taking you to hospital instead of your next accommodation. He’s got his foot flat on the accelerator with his hazard lights on non-freaking-stop and using his horn and indicators non-freaking-stop (I’m just so glad I’m lying down and can’t see a thing from where I am!).
Without any warning it’s going to happen, I shout ‘I’m going to be sick!’ and with BatWoman lightning speed he’s got that finger of his on the electric window as I rise up and just manage to projectile vomit out the window of the moving car, managing pretty much to avoid the inside of the car. Impressive! I’d be pleased with myself if I wasn’t feeling so sick! And for the poor motorbike rider I catch a glimpse of who’s coming up on the inside and has to slam his brakes on to avoid my last few meals, I’m sorry, I hope I missed you!
I believe this ‘illness’ was a wake-up call. No, more than that – I could FEEL it was. Something bigger than me had taken hold of me and I needed to be shaken up to be able to face it and get going on some inner work to rid it (thank you to my whacky friends who supported me during this). There is always a journey to be taken, in my case a Nomadness one! That is, if we’re brave and bold enough to follow it to wherever it’ll lead. If I’m really honest, I knew this had been coming for a year or two at least. I just didn’t know it would be like this, hitting me with me weakest point – nausea and vomiting!
But life is like that. And I’ve always said that when Universe really wants you to listen – and you’re not – they will hit you over the head with a rubber mallet until you do. And then DO something about it. I have some serious shite and fears to smack in the face and out of my life! I will not let fear drive my world in any way, shape or form. ¡BASTA YA!
So the Nomadness journey moves on from beautiful green, lush, Bali with its kind and gentle people and the new and old friends here. It’s been an interesting stop, one I probably in reality could have done with less time in.
You see, I think I’ve learnt something about myself already on this Nomadness trip (I should bloody hope so!) And that is that whilst the travelling is great, I need to have more of a purpose during it. Like when I was in Cambodia and Viet Nam for 9 months, I was volunteering. Or in 2017 when I was travelling for most of the year, it was mainly for a ceramic residency.
I’ve also learnt ‘never say never’, ‘don’t make plans’ (because you know if you do God will laugh and she’ll tell you ‘that’s what YOU think you’re doing, I’ve got other plans for you!) and to just go with the flow, or my favourite saying – #LetGoToLetFlow – and see what happens.
And speaking of me having a purpose during my Nomadness travels, I’ve applied for something BIG! Something HUGE! Something I would love with all my heart to be a part of and that (if I do say so myself) I’m a perfect fit for. Hundreds of people have applied and they will choose just 4. Well, 3 as I’m assuming I’m already in! I’ll know at the end of March so watch this space.
Oman – here we come, Thelma and Louise (hope there is a Brad Pitt or two for us there!) I’ll tell you about that bit of Nomadness in the next blog.
I send you love, hugs and blessings. Be good, kind and gentle with yourself. If you want to get these blogs automatically, just sign up here.
I leave you with these snippets which I hope you can find your own wisdom through and add your own in the comments:
Things I have learnt and am learning:
- When you think the odds are stacked against you, the Universe is working out a plan for you
- When you’re in a ‘holding’ or ‘waiting’ pattern it’s for a reason, usually the Universe is lining something up for you
- Support and encouragement often come not from where you think or would like it but totally left field
- It never pays to cross, be angry, unkind or dismiss anyone. You never know when or where they’ll pop up again in your life
- When you’re at your lowest or feel most lost is usually when most learning and growth is happening
- When someone keeps you unexpectedly waiting, use the time creatively – like I’m doing now!
- Always, always trust yourself and your intuition, even and especially when everything on the surface indicates otherwise
- It’s really very simple. Ask yourself ‘does this make me feel good or does it make me feel bad? Always move to what is going to make you feel good
- The difference between what you think you want and what’s meant to be is in the feeling. The latter will give you a spark of excitement or current of electricity
- When you think you know someone, you don’t. And when you think you don’t know someone, you do – including yourself!
- From a low, comes a high and often clarity of why we needed to have that dip
- When you feel as though everything is crashing down around you, know that room is being made for something new, something bigger and better. Trust it!
- You are usually the only one you can really rely on so learn independence and make best friends with yourself
- My most wonderful moments have been to do with people and nature.
- I feel most liberated when I’m creating something and walking in nature
- Things are never as they seem and there is always, always a bigger picture which we are not aware of but have to trust. It is all for our own highest good
- We do not ‘pass away’ but rather ‘pass over’ to perfect light, love and happiness. And if we can believe this, death whether our own or loved ones holds no fear
- To ask yourself when in doubt or fear, What If? What If I CAN be better? What if I can do this job or be healthier or live the life I dream instead of just dreaming it? Just What If I CAN? And feel the shift inside you at the enormous possibilities open to you
- There (usually) isn’t anyone who can help you as much as you can help yourself
- Say less, listen more – much more
- Trust, Trust and then Trust some more
- We mostly are oblivious to the impact we have on others by our words and actions, how little support and encouragement is needed to lift someone to new heights
Nomadness – The Journey has begun!
Toorbul, Queensland and Eungai Creek, mid north coast NSW
For those of you who know me very well, you know that I’m just plain and simple a nomad. Always have been since I was 17 and before that, through my parents, and I suspect I always will be. I used to think there was something wrong with me (well there probably is but not what I initially thought) as I couldn’t settle for more than a few years in one place. As far back as I can remember I had this thirst to go into unexplored territory whether at home in Aus or away from our shores.
It wasn’t until the last 10 odd years that I realised that change is a huge part of me. I absolutely embrace it and even think it’s part of my DNA! I loathe most types of routine. Except maybe for my glass of bubbles or two in the evenings. And chocolate, dark of course with sea salt and caramel, after dinner. But apart from that I mean. I thrive on change, new places, peoples, food and experiences. It so totally feeds and nourishes me. And I’m grateful that I’ve finally in my later years accepted and love that part of myself. It pushes me out on a limb and onwards and upwards and backwards and tests me, tires me but I’m rarely standing still.
In these last months many a friend has told me I’m brave for doing what I’m doing and I suspect they’re thinking especially at my age (I don’t think 41 is that old, is it??). Either way, I’ve been doing this all my life so to me it’s not at all brave. But that’s the same for anyone we admire who are doing something we ourselves fear. So if I manage to inspire one person to go out and do what they dream of and kicking any fears aside, then I’ve been rewarded tenfold.
So now, another adventure to add to my collection. And there have been a few in the past 7 years since coming back from southern Spain and living in Noosa. There were the unforgettable 9 months volunteering in Viet Nam and Cambodia with a trip to South America and Denmark in the middle during 2014. Then the start of 2017 taking a ceramic residency in Tuscany, visiting my beloved Spain, then on to Denmark via Germany visiting special friends all along the way. And later the same year a wonderful trip down memory lane back in WA (where I hadn’t been for 20 years) seeing old long lost friends, and then over to Bali to visit more friends. And finally a bit of an unplanned trip back to Malaga Spain to sort out a flat I acquired.
I spent all of this year home Airbnb hosting again, did well with it and toboot met many wonderful people some who have become good friends. But my wings did not enjoy being clipped and my nature is not one of having no freedom to take flight at a whim. Hence the decision to sell my home, which was absolutely the right one, sell off half my furniture (the trusty steed has just gone on Gum Tree) and put the rest into storage and bless myself with no ties. When we finally settled and I left Noosa in my rear-view mirror I felt an insane sense of freedom, relief and excitement of what lies in store on this new journey.
I set off the day before we settled in the direction of Toorbul and my dear friends Bron and Johnny. Always great company, fabulous food thanks mostly to chef Johnny, great conversation and laughs. I’ve known Bron for 30 odd years so it was a blessing to find when I decided to make Noosa my home that she was just down the road.
After Toorbul, I pointed my steed south again and kept going until I got to my sister and BIL’s (BrotherInLaw) at Eungai Creek. My BIL has had a two brain tumour ops in as many months which has left him legally blind – we hope only for now. Life has changed enormously for them both and whilst unimaginably challenging, they are both coping mostly and getting some great support from their community. We seriously don’t know what at any given moment life is going to throw our way, which is why I’m doing what I’m doing – and what I want.
Unlike most other journeys on this one I have very few plans. I don’t do well with planning far in advance except when I have to. So apart from leaving from Sydney 11 January for Bali where I’ll spend the first couple of months and a possible trip to Oman, my thoughts are to hit Europe for their spring around April and do a combination of house-sitting, workaway and visiting dear friends. I want to stay at least a month to 3 in each place so I really get immersed in the culture, people and community of wherever I’ve chosen.
The bucket list is very very long! Italy, Greece and France are fairly high on my list with many other places also – the 5 Blue Zones in the world (starting with Ikaria thanks to my Kiwi friend Bec). I may never come back!
But you’ll have to wait and see where the wind blows me because it can notoriously change direction at any given moment.
With that, I wish you a happy, safe, fun and healthy festive season and right through 2019. See you – somewhere!
With love and blessings Glen