The Secret Life of Cups

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Ceramic cups with gold luster detailing by Lilianne Milgrom

I have long held on to the fanciful notion that inanimate objects spring to life the moment our backs are turned. This may be due to the lingering effects of having been a voracious reader of Enid Blyton’s delightfully whimsical children’s books, particularly the Faraway Tree series.

In any case, I recently made a pair of ceramic mugs with facial features and have produced a 30-second animated video playing out my fantasies of a kiss-and-make-up scenario between these two ceramic characters…Click on the image below to watch it on youtube. Enjoy!

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BEWARE: Working with clay may be addictive!

April Felipe 'She was as lost to Them as They were to Her'
April Felipe ‘She was as lost to Them as They were to Her’

Ceramicists know something others don’t: Once you sink your hands into an earthy, moist ball of clay and realize that its creative possibilities are virtually infinite, you may just become addicted; I’ve seen it happen and I also speak from experience. The 2015 Clay National exhibition at the Workhouse is a prime example of the medium’s vast potential to express the maker’s vision.

Mariana Baquero 'My Cup Runneth Over'
Mariana Baquero ‘My Cup Runneth Over’
Jamie Bales Slone 'Pathogenisis 5'
Jamie Bales Slone ‘Pathogenisis 5’
Annie Campbell 'Downstream'
Annie Campbell ‘Downstream’
Douglas Navarra 'Green Faceted Container'
Douglas Navarra ‘Green Faceted Container’
Sara Morales Morgan 'Virginia'
Sara Morales Morgan ‘Virginia’

NEW WORK:

I have just completed a new series of decorative ceramic forms entitled Disneyland Revisited. The forms incorporate vintage crystal decanter tops that I found in a great junk shop in Melbourne, Australia. My underglaze illustration takes female characters from Disney movies and translates them into the ‘real’ world. Below are images from two of these new works.

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Jasmine (Aladdin) Revisited:

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI would love to hear from all you clay heads out there – any feedback is always welcome! More of my ceramic work here

The Clay National runs through September 13 at the Workhouse Art Center, Lorton, VA.

Romanian Biennale – two thumbs up!

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Just back from Cluj, the capital of Transylvania, Romania where I participated in the First International Ceramics Biennale held at the National Museum of Art.

The National Museum of Art, a magnificent baroque building that unfortunately has seen better days…
The National Museum of Art, a magnificent baroque building that unfortunately has seen better days…

As a vehicle for displaying the very latest innovations and trends, a Biennale is defined by high expectations. One expects to be exposed to the crème de la crème of contemporary art, and the Cluj Biennale offered a mouth-watering smorgasbord of some of the finest contemporary ceramic works being produced today. Ceramic artists around the globe continue to defy clay’s limitations, pushing their material into new frontiers and incorporating audio and video elements, found objects, wood, wire, leaves, porcupine quills, photography and embroidery.

Jeffrey Mongrain's iris projection at the base of the ceramic vessel
Jeffrey Mongrain’s iris projection at the base of the ceramic vessel
Bogdan Teodorescu's poignant chipped deer figurine looking at it's broken antler
Bogdan Teodorescu’s poignant chipped deer figurine looking at its broken antler

The range of works was truly impressive. Giant vessels stood like sentinels as mobiles floated from the ceiling. Pedestals sported tiny figurines that were dwarfed by billboard-sized wall pieces. Translucent slivers of porcelain shared the limelight with crude stoneware sculptures; crackled, encrusted glazes competed with impeccably airbrushed surfaces. Beside a pile of unfired clay decomposing on a tabletop, contorted altered forms lay within reach of sculpted torsos inlaid with words and symbols.

A catalogue from the exhibition is available on the Cluj Biennale website. More glimpses below:

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My piece 'Lock, Stock and Barrel' turned out to be quite a talking point!
My piece ‘Lock, Stock and Barrel’ turned out to be quite a talking point!

The accompanying Symposium on the Arts of Fire included informative presentations from Iceland, Latvia, Austria, Israel, United States, Canada, Belgium, Brazil, Romania and Turkey. My presentation on the Balance of Concept and Aesthetics was very well received, with some possible international invitations on the horizon.

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The Biennale organizers had a final surprise in store for the artists – an unexpected cocktail held in a magnificent former casino in the middle of the Central Park, with a folk dance troupe to entertain us!

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Cluj itself is a lovely city, even showing off with a magnificent rainbow and delicious croissants for breakfast!

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I wouldn't say no to a return visit - here's to the 2015 Cluj Biennale!!!
I wouldn’t say no to a return visit – here’s to the 2015 Cluj Biennale!!!

PS. For an extra treat , check out this 30-second youtube video I made of a fabulous contemporary ceramics gallery I visited in Bucharest.

Photos courtesy of Alan Merbaum.