Thursday, 15 January 2015

Damn It

I am drawing to the close of 8 months of not actually making any ceramics due to looking after my daughter. My brain has been on holiday from teaching. Hours of thinking time that was previously dedicated to teaching, marking, planning, admin etc has been dedicated to what ever I want to think about. The first 7 months were consumed with the worry and newness of being a mum. The remaining 2 months my brain has started to actually think. Especially in the evenings when baby is asleep and John is marking, before I would have been doing the same, marking or planning or whatever. Instead I have been reading what ever I want, doodling mindlessly and thinking.




It is so nice to be me again. I forgot who I was. 










I have revisited music from my teenage years, Nirvana and Hole especially, I remembered what it felt like to be 13 years old and feel like an odd one, a black sheep and how the music made me feel like I wasn't the only one. I read through old journals and surprised myself with what I have done and who I have become. I found a bit in my diary from the mid 90's that said how Nirvana had changed my life, I know it sounds dumb but is true, the nature of what I wrote about in my diaries changed around then and the things that concerned me also became more thought out, it was probably growing up as well but it did help me define who I wanted to be.



All this writing and thinking has made me wonder if clay is a prison. Limiting myself to one media. I feel this loyalty to clay, probably from reading too much Ceramic Review. I feel obliged to use clay. I like to paint portraits and insects and do other things as well. I was reading the other day about Taylorism and the division of labour, how industrialization and the streamlining of the workforce has separated the hand from the brain. People who make on factory floors do not conceive ideas like they did back in the day when a carpenter would design make and sell their work. It is all broken up. This happens in art as well. In some cases the artist has the idea and someone else makes it. So is ceramics dead? Am I flogging craft from a bygone era that is now only reserved for rich people who can afford lovey hand made things. I don't like that idea. I don't want to make cute things that go with bunting, and I don't like Bernard Leach.









If we are talking about clay I really like the work of Małgorzata ET Warlikowska for me it is ballsy, feminine, disquieting. It is about culture and media, it is relevant to the world we live in. I feel stuck in a rut, my work is too tame. I need to dredge myself dry. I need to be true to myself. 



I read this quote from George Bernard Shaw....




"Whilst we......the conventional....were wasting our time on education and organization some independent genius has taken the matter in hand..."





That scares the crap out of me. What if we are so bogged down with every day life etiquette, like the court of Louis XIV ruled to tiniest nth my an absolute monarch. I heard that he made up so many stupid rules to keep his court occupied that they didn't have time to think up ways to rebel. He even had them grow their little finger nail because the right way to knock on a door was my scratching it with your little finger nail. What if everyone has something to give? But we are so worried about what size clothes we wear whether we have the right ideas/opinions/outlook.  





The thing is there is no truth only opinion and knowledge. Every one has different opinions and it was once knowledge that the earth was flat. So everyone should just do what they like as long as it doesn't hurt anyone. Trouble is if anyone feels like I do, sometimes I don't know who I am, or what I think, and I don't have the luxury of TIME, to think about all these things and do something about it.  To create art is a luxury





So how do I access myself, how do I make my true feelings and ideas rise to the surface and how do I know they are real? I get that we are part of a society and the culture and conventions of that society will have a bearing on who you are. If I was born in Syria I would not be making pots that look like TITS. But still on some level I worry about saying the wrong thing about not being PC. It is generally true that all new ideas start on the margins of society Outside Society. Some are absorbed into the mainstream, like Grunge music and others stay on the edges. Some ideas are wrong and therefore fade away, some simmer away until their time comes. Those that are absorbed become part of everyday culture and that is one of the ways we move forward. Point is YOU HAVE TO BE ON THE OUTSIDE you have to be courageous and take the shit from people who don't agree with your ideas. But still do it. You have to find the time to think the thoughts, to know your own voice among all those around you, and then you have to do something about it. 





So I know that I need to know myself. I know that I lost sight of myself in the day to day life of an ordinary 30 something woman in the 21st century. I hope when I return to work on Friday 13th of February and don't go back under and I remember this moment.


Wednesday, 10 December 2014

TV Opportunity for Ceramists

I received an email with the following information if anyone fancies becoming a TV star!

Love Productions, the makers of BBC1's ‘The Great British Bake Off’ in London.

We are currently producing an exciting new programme for BBC Two about pottery. We are scouring the country for potters and ceramicists to take part in this new talent search that will test all the different aspects of their craft.

I am emailing to see whether it would be possible for you to pass on the attached information via your blog to help spread the word about the programme.
Would this be possible?

If you yourself or anyone else is interested in applying you can request an application form at pottery@loveproductions.co.uk (preferred) / 0207 067 4829.


Monday, 12 May 2014

Photo Shoot

I have been spending my time shooting photographs of my work and updating my website. I have a new website address now which you see here. http://www.annecastano-ceramics.com/

I would also like to share with you some of the pictures from the shoot....
























For my next collection of work I am investigating further into the human form, the body looking at muscle structures and tendons.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Its been a while....

OK, I need to get back into the habit of a post a week, its been a while.

Please check out my new website, all designed by me. I really don't enjoy this stuff too much, and it has taken me all day to get this far. But I think it is OK, your thoughts and opinions would be, as ever, gratefully received.

http://www.annecastanoceramics.portfoliobox.me/eggs

Also here is my new artist statement. A bit poncy maybe?

 am a ceramic artist, I started studying ceramics in London at St Martins in 1999. I worked from Archway Ceramics in The East End of London for 7 years and now live on the South coast of England.  I build stoneware and porcelain sculptural vessels, I mainly coil, but I also use moulds and pinch pots.
I am interested in the role that clay plays in art. Often people look at ceramic sculpture and ask, 'what does it do'? There is an assumption that seems to be ingrained in the collective psyche that things made of ceramics must do something, however that outlook is now changing. It is an exciting time for ceramics but also a time of change. Clay is being accepted as a material to be used as Art, however ceramics as a standalone unique discipline seems to be fading and this is evidenced by the number of university courses that have closed in recent years. In my own practice I have been straying into other media, paint, textiles and photography also form part of my practice. Maybe that is symptomatic of the general changes in ceramics.
I often use the body as a starting point in my work. My fascination with the body in clay came about because of the verbal connection, the 'foot' of the vessel, the 'body' of clay the 'neck' and other  references. I started to see my pots as characters, families, relations if each other. I read books such as The Body' by Lisa Blackman this got me interested in the portrayal of the female form in media and art. I thought about how by displacing body parts it can be unsettling or even a bit funny, and I asked myself why it is that nudity is still taboo in certain contexts and not others? 
I am still exploring along these lines at the moment. I am interested in the body as the seat of all our experiences, how the mind is sometimes seen as the 'real' us. Body and mind become separate, the mind somehow superior. The way the body is dressed and modified to send signals, the way the body is our vessel that contains us, our carriage in life. Impermanent, ageing, diseased, flexible, inflexible, resilient and quite amazing in every way inside and out. I think this fascination became more intense when I developed Raynauds and experienced other health problems that made me realise the fragility of this vessel that contains our being. 
It seems the body that contains us dictates very much who we become, male, female, black, white, Asian, gay, straight. Expectation is placed on depending which vehicle we are riding, some are pretty, some ugly, some able, some disabled. One thing is certain the body isn't permanent, all the atoms, minerals and molecules will go back into the melting pot at some point and be reformed into something else. There is finite oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus on our planet and these elements are infinitely recycled and reformed. Clay itself is malleable and undergoes many transformations in order to become clay, and then more to become an artwork. These are things I think about when I make my work.

Monday, 27 January 2014

The Body & Clay

I recently got an email asking me how the figure inspires my work in clay by a student who is studying for their degree. They are going to evaluate three contemporary artists and evaluate how they use the female form. It got me thinking, and it really helped me to organise my thoughts. I am giving an artist talk on Thursday so I want to say thank you to that student for sending that message, it really helped.


Here is my response. 


I think my interest in the figure and clay came about because of the obvious verbal connection, the 'foot' of the vessel, the 'body' of clay the 'neck'. I started to see my pots as characters, families, relations if each other. I then started reading books like 'The Body' by Lisa Blackman and this got me interested in the portrayal of the female form in media and art. I thought about how by displacing body parts it can be unsettling or even a bit funny, and why it is that nudity is still taboo in certain contexts and not others? 


I am still exploring along these lines at the moment. I am interested in the body as the seat of all our experiences, how the mind is sometimes seen as the 'real' us, body and mind become separate, the mind some how superior. The way the body is dressed and modified to send signals, the way the body is our vessel that contains us, our carriage in life. Impermanent, ageing, diseased, flexible, inflexible, resilient and quite amazing in every way inside and out. I think this fascination became more intense when I developed Raynauds and experienced other health problems that made me realise the fragility of this vessel that contains our being. 


It seems the body that contains us dictates very much who we become, male, female, black, white, Asian, gay, straight. Expectation is placed on depending which vehicle we are riding, some are pretty, some ugly, some able, some disabled. One thing is certain the body isn't permanent, all the atoms, minerals and molecules will go back into the melting pot at some point and be reformed into something else. There is finite oxygen, carbon, nitrogen, calcium, phosphorus on our planet and our planet is good at recycling.