Talk about things starting off with a bang here at Medalta! I have no idea where September went, but I do know that it has been a great month, full of new faces and awesome meals. In addition to the four long-term artists in residence all kicking it off in the studios this month, we had five artists from South East Asia in the studios, headed up by the inimitable Vipoo Srivilasa, a Thai born artist who is now based in Australia. South East Asian artists working alongside artists in South Eastern Alberta (hence the name of our show SEXSE, which I now get to put on my CV!).
Vipoo (who I also had the pleasure of hosting during his stay), invited four other ceramic artists from South East Asia to Medalta for a one month residency. His prerequisites for choosing the artists were, one, that they make great work, and two, that they be good cooks! Needless to say, it made for an amazing combination in the studios—everyone trying to outdo each other both on the making art and making food side. The artists he invited were Thomas Cheong and Teo Huey Min from Singapore, Krisaya Luenganantakul, from Thailand, and Boon Kiat (James) Seet, of Malaysia. All incredibly talented individuals that I feel lucky to call friends.
As a way of getting us all to work towards a common goal, Vipoo instigated the first ever Medalta International Spoon competition. Here are the results:
My first ever spoons!
Teo Huey Min (the winner!)
As the website says, “Medalta is the centerpiece of a 150-acre Canadian National Historic Site in Medicine Hat, Canada.” And while the Medalta site itself is incredible (where else in the world will you find a working pottery, industrial ceramics museum, contemporary gallery and state of the art artist studio’s all within 500 feet of each other?), the rest of the site is pretty spectacular. I had a chance to visit the two other sites this week and was blown away by the diversity and sheer size of the former clay industry in Medicine Hat. A picture really is worth a thousand words, so here you go:
Hycroft China – 1938 – 1989
Kiln tracking tickets.
Not so secret secret clay recipe.
Original Hycroft ware.
Original Hycroft molds.
Medicine Hat Brick & Tile Plant – 1880 – 2010
Now that’s an extruder!
Old kiln… last fired in the 70’s.
The kiln “room”.
This past Friday I had the pleasure of attending the opening of Medalta’s first annual International Cup Show. It was the first of what I am sure will be many openings in the next year, and, if it was any indication of things to come, it’s going to be a great year (not that there was ever any doubt). The show was curated by the lovely and talented Carole Epp, the creative force behind the fantastic blog Musing About Mud. I’ve been through the exhibition several times now, and it really is a wonderful show—a new piece catches my eye each time. I know it has been said before, but mugs and cups have this almost visceral pull that makes it almost impossible not to pick them up, hold them in your hand and see how they fit. It’s why they continue to be one of my favourite things to make.
The only fault I had to find with the show was that none of my mugs made it in. And the worst part is I can’t even blame it on the curator… Nope, it was all me. I didn’t even enter.
I’m not usually one to use a sports reference, but I believe it was Wayne Gretzky who said “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. I saw the call for entry months ago, and managed to convince myself that my work wasn’t good enough to get in (don’t worry, I’ve already kicked myself several times since then, so there is no need to berate me any more friends!). Not to toot my own horn, but after looking at the range of work that was represented in the show, I think I would have had a pretty good shot of getting in, so I only have myself to blame, which is always a humbling realization.
It’s been a valuable lesson; I’ve always known that I can be my own worst enemy, but there is nothing like good empirical evidence to show you the error of your ways. So I’m making a pledge to apply to more things whether I think I stand a chance or not. First up? Beyond the Brickyard at the Bray—go big or go home right?
The mug that could have been?