Making Art

Bringing Art Making Into Your Life

Joining an arts collective: I am Borg

I’m feeling very excited! I have just joined a ceramics collective and I will finally have access to two things I will appreciate:

  1. A kiln. Some of my regular readers will know that I have been doing ceramic sculpture for quite a while but without actually having a kiln. Kilns are both expensive to buy and run, and you also need a safe place to house them. It’s not a commitment you make lightly. Things were getting so desperate that I was either going to have to stop making ceramics or go back to university to do a masters just so I could get near a kiln.
  2. People. There is something just as important as the kilns… human contact. For someone like me that works alone from home for money, then makes art at home alone, it can be a bit of a lonely existence.

Last week a friend forwarded me an email  that someone had sent her about a new ceramics collective starting up and miracle of miracles its only about 10 minutes drive from where I live. If you know Sydney you know how much of a miracle this actually is because there are parts of the city I just don’t go to because its such a hassle to get there even in a car. Want to drive for  an hour to get somewhere then not be able to find anything other thana 1 hour park? Sydney.

When I first read the email I was a bit excited mostly about kiln access. I sent them an email and they invited me to the meet and greet only a couple of days away. When I got there I was even more excited: big factory, new equipment, tea room [yay] big communal work tables and a gallery space.

Yes sometimes I prefer to be alone when I work but sometimes it makes me feel like I don’t even exist. That’s why so many artists end up working at their kitchen table instead of out in the shed or alone in the study. Because they want to be part of whats going on and see the people! Maybe if I worked in a busy office and people chatted to me all day long I would be keen to hide away a bit more.

It will be interesting making art in a communal space: I have only ever done this when I have been studying.  But this time it will be in front of a whole bunch of other artists; sculptors, potters, a photographer, a painter, a textile artist. I can be kind of private about what I am making and why.  [Sounds silly coming from someone who blogs about their art making I know, so feel free to snicker… I don’t mind telling you all out there in art making land, because I am trying to encourage you all to make some art and know that other artists have problems too.]. One thing I am wary of when working around other people, is unsolicited advice. Unless I am seeking expert advice, I am not an artist [or person for that matter] who asks other people’s opinions about what I should do. It’s not because I think other people don’t have good ideas but because I like the vision I have to be undiluted. They can apply their ideas to their own work. Also because I do design work for money I spend all that time doing exactly what my clients want rather than what I want. And that’s how it should be as they are paying me to fulfil their vision. But when I am making my own stuff I like the ideas and the style to be mine alone.

There is another thing invaluable that comes from working around other artists: knowledge. Working in a space with a whole bunch of other ceramicists, means there will be all sorts of information flying round the air and techniques I haven’t seen before. I am going to have to be very careful about not annoying the other artists by asking them too many questions. There are a couple of very knowledgeable artists joining who I suspect will be very carefully guarding their time. Its fair enough too, because they have joined so they can get their own work done.

I joined the collective [makes me want to shout ‘I am Borg’ ] last week. I got a locker and two shelves, various passwords  and a lovely conversation with two other artists. What fun. The second day I went I was the only one there because most people hadn’t moved their stuff in yet. I decided to jump straight in and make something.  It’s a bit weird to go to a large empty factory and sit down and make something. I hadn’t really decided what to make because I had been putting clay out of my mind as I didn’t have kiln access. So as a warm up I thought I’d  return to one of my favourite subjects, ropes and draped fabrics.


Above: This is a rope noose I made last year.


Above: Part of  a painting/drawing I did last year.

For a while I had been wondering whether I could make something more dynamic with clay. Most of the work I have done has been fairly passive. Some artists manage to get a lot of suggested movement or tension in their sculpture work and I decided I was going to try to do that working at the collective.  In a painting I did last year I had my little dog wrapped in a cloth swinging in the air and I was wondering whether I could make something like this in clay. It poses a number of challenges, such as how to support it both while its being made and afterwards. Does it have a base that is hidden? Do I make it solid and hollow it out once its made or do I make it like you make a coiled pot, keeping it hollow as you work.  I decided to ease myself into it by  sculpting a knot. When you sculpt something like this you have to decide how much detail you want to include and whether you are going to sculpt as you see it or a slightly less detailed version if it will look better. So for my first day in the collective I sculpted a rough version of the knot. It’s quite a big knot about 18cm [7 inches] long.


Above: the fabric knot.



Above: the knot made in clay.


Above: for those of you who don’t know what ‘Borg’ is. Jeri Ryan plays the character ‘Seven of Nine’ in ‘Star Trek: Voyager’. The Borg are part cyborg who share collective thoughts and aims with their fellow Borg.  Born a human, ‘Seven of Nine’ is captured by the Borg as a child and assimilated into the Borg world [left]. Later she is rescued by the Voyager crew and re-assimilaed as a human. But she always retains her Borgy personality and a bit of electronic inners [right]. I am hoping I will become as spunky as she is by joining the collective.

So now I have joined the collective, I am hoping it can achieve the aims of its members: fun, success, exhibitions, company and a place to work. I’ll let you know how it goes. Next time I go I will finish it the clay knot,  hollow it out, and see what I think of the process. Thats what art making is. Trying something until you get it right.

I am Borg.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on May 28, 2013 by in sculpture, Studios and tagged , , , , , , , , , .
%d bloggers like this: