Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Porcelain in Perth

Its been a couple of years since I've made any of my recipe bowls. And after labouring over these ones I remember why I stopped! But I must admit that despite the time-consuming, finicky, nerve-wracking process, every time I pull one of these finished pieces out of the kiln I still get a little thrill and am amazed by the versatility of clay. Bloody marvellous stuff it is!

I’ve just sent five of these bowls over to an exhibition in Perth.  Each bowl is decorated with a poem or a recipe in the handwriting of some pretty amazing women in my family. I got quite sentimental as they sat there all together on my workbench, this little collection of bowls covered in the handwriting of sisters, aunts, mothers and grandmothers.  

My favourite part of the process is getting up close and personal with the intricacies and intimacies of the handwriting.  I find it fascinating as I zoom in and cut and paste and fiddle with the scans of their recipe books, letters and poems on my computer, noticing the little nuances each of them has, the way they underline a word (curly, straight, wispy, defined) the frequent use of exclamation marks, or lack of, the little messages and notes to would-be readers (“enjoy!!”) and the slants, curls and whirls of each woman’s hand.  I am always left with a strange (and lovely) sense of having spent time with them.

This time I was also left with a grumbling tummy after working on my mum’s coffee cheesecake recipe…oooh, its amaaaazing! Brings back childhood memories of dinner parties where she would make her famous lasagne followed by the cheesecake, the dining room table crowded with women with hair down to their bums and men with afros and fuzzy beards and flares (it was the 70s).  Us kids would just hang around till we got our feed of cheesecake and then nick off back to the rare luxury of staying up late and watching telly!

So, if you happen to be over in Perth you can check out this little collection at a show called “Highlights of Contemporary Australian Porcelain” at Gadfly Gallery, along with the work of Robin Best, Pippin Drysdale, Kirsten Coelho, Bruce Nuske and Jane Robertson. It opens this Friday (Sept 18th) and runs until October 11th

16 comments:

reb said...

Simply divine Mel! Just love everything about them.

Grand Purl Baa said...

Hey Mel is that Julie's writing on the last photo? She's such a wonderful scrawler isn't she?

They are so delicate.

Mel Robson said...

aaaw thanks Reb, and Loani, most astute observation! Yes, it is Julie's!! Well spotted! By the way, did you end up seeing the pink pom pom tea cosy mum knitted??? Amazing! Get Julie to send you a pic!!!

jimgottuso said...

those are so beautiful, really, really nice bowls. i especially like the penmanship of the writing and reminds me of a time when people wrote with pen and paper and actually knew how to write.

Jay Dee said...

Lovely to hear the story behind them! Will there be any on show in or near Brisbane at any stage this or early next year?

Mel Robson said...

Hi Jay Dee. That all depends on if i get around to making any more! I'll let you know!

Mel Robson said...

Hi Jim,

Yes, there's nothing like old school handwriting is there? Fast becoming a lost art.

baby furniture said...

The handwriting is nice! I love it! I think this is going to be a very nice gift this coming Holidays! ..very personalized!

Weezie's Woolies said...

Amazing Mel, I can feel how delicate they are from here! Must have been nerve racking sending them off. Cool to have 30 years or so from now.

Apple said...

Beautiful bowls! I love the text on them!! :)

Anonymous said...

Hello, I am from a pottery group in Sydney and I would really like to make some recipie bowls because I also have a passion for food! How do you do the writing? is is sslip or underglaze in a pen? Thankyou, they are lovely!

Mel Robson said...

Hi anon,

I use ceramic decals that i have custom made. But there are a lot of different print techniques you can use to get text/imagery onto ceramic surfaces. Have a look at Paul Scott's book "Ceramics and Print".

Flora Doehler said...

These are stunning! What a great idea to have your female relative's words on there.
I saw the bowls on "Design Sponge".
I am a painter, not a potter, and what intrigues me about these is how did you get the writing on the bowl? Is it a phototransfer thing? Even so, I can't imagine how you would accomodate for the curve of the bowl.
Just gorgeous work. So glad to find you!
Flora in Canada

Mel Robson said...

Hi Flora, thanks for your comment. I use custom made ceramic decals (see above). they have a bit of flexibility in them so can move around the curved shape a little, but its a fairly time consuming process as each word has to be put on individually, and longwords have to be cut up and put on bit by bit....

Kate said...

Lovely work! I have friends thet are basically my Aussie family in Brisbaine and love the creativity that the city breeds. I stehre a way I can have your work sent (in-tact) to Canada or do I have to wait for my next around-the-world journey?

Anonymous said...

Hi, i just came across your recipe bowls via pinterst. I was very moved by such and awesome idea and beautiful result. I look forward to watching your work.