Friday, 6 February 2009

Introducing... Andrew Widdis

Andrew Widdis, a Melbourne-based ceramicist, is one of our favourite makers and bloggers. Using either porcelain or stoneware, Andrew frequently posts images of his work in all stages of production - from collecting the sand, to kiln tests, to finished product. His ceramicware are lovely things to behold (and hold too!). They often feature a subtle twist here and there, perhaps a little indentation in the lip of a vessel to guide your milk better to your tea, or a slight bend in the porcelain in an unlikely spot.

Passionate about his craft, Andrew is currently campaigning for the NGV to exhibit more of its ceramics. A worthy cause if we've ever heard of one!

Andrew at work

I am inspired by…

"Look, it cannot be seen — it is beyond form. Listen, it cannot be heard — it is beyond sound. Grasp, it cannot be held — it is intangible. These three are indefinable; therefore they are joined in one."

- Tao Te Ching.

The entire process of creating a new ceramic piece has a certain Taoist bent, it is meticulous and involves several stages with the final outcome being a finished product that is unique within itself. Working with Australian materials and developing new glazes from local is a large part of my work. Much of my inspiration comes from local indigenous flora. I also find an excellent cup of coffee to be quite inspirational.

My garden full to the brim with indigenous plants. It's the inspiration for the khaki slip I use on the rims of some of my vessels. It, along with the Whipstick forest is also the reason I endeavour to add a landscape to my reduction fired vessels.

I am influenced by…
All artists and fellow workers have been influential. Their own journey to create and discover naturally has a strong influence on my work. However as artists we strive to develop our own methods and style which often leads to unexplored territory where with no-one to follow trial and error becomes the 'play of the day'.

I will admit to spending several days in the Victoria & Albert Museum's ceramics section (it has its whole sixth floor devoted to ceramics) much of what I saw still influences me today.
If only the NGV would display more of its ceramic collection!

The worst thing about doing what I do…
I seem to spend a lot of my time commuting from my home base in Bendigo to Melbourne and back. Also keeping my studio and BAS (tax) in order must be the artist’s curse. Oh and wedging (wedging is kneading, but of clay, not bread dough), how could I forget that horrible chore (nobody likes a wedgie).

...and the best thing?
Sitting at the potters' wheel with a well wedged piece of clay and drinking an inspirational cup of coffee!

My favourite thing I've made is…
It's not ceramic, though I have many favourite ceramic pieces that I've made over the years. It's a letter opener that I carved from a piece of Eucalypt. I made it for my Great Aunt Doff (Dorothy Widdis) she passed away a few years ago, at the age of 103. On one of the last occasions that I visited her in Sale (Gippsland, Victoria) I was chatting with her in her study and she picked up the letter opener and said it was her favourite. I now have it, and it's my favourite too.
I can't live without…
My mum!

If I could do anything in the world tomorrow, I would…
I've recently finished a Bachelor of Visual Arts (ceramics) I'd like to expand on some of the research I began at Latrobe by travelling etc. Set up a studio in Copenhagen – why??????? Taste for travelling, Charlie (my brother), fresh landscapes & ideas, research OS, better support for artists in Northern Europe...

Porcelain bowl with oxide
Reduction-fired porcelain vessel
Andrew's signature piece - the altered porcelain vessel
For more images and documentation on Andrew's artistic practice, inspiration and daily musings, visit his blog - it's a great read!

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