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It’s Sunday and It’s the end of a mad and hectic week. This was my last full week being an Artist in Residence in no.72 John Street. On Wednesday I will have to start cleaning up the studio space that means sweeping up all the pieces on the floor. Some people have asked if I am disappointed that they have to be destroyed. To be honest I am not really as I really enjoyed making them in the first place and I would like to be able to start fresh ones. Only thing preventing me at the moment is space as I couldn’t imagine these pieces on the wooden floor at home. Now that it is summer I might use the good weather to create pieces outdoors.

So back to the mad week.

Yesterday was the end to the mad week. About 20 people turned up in The Mill in Thomastown where I had organised a glazing of the teabowls and then a Raku firing. People started arriving around 12 and had tea, coffee adn biscuits ( finally managed to get the lid onto the big flasks). So after introductions, refreshments and a browse in the Pottery shop we went up to the glaze room where I showed everyone the process of glazing a tea bowl with the help of a friend who has many years of pottery experience. So while everybody got stuck into the glazing I started heating the Raku Kiln. Hopefully most of this was captured on video before the battery ran out. I took out my digital camera to take some photos but I forgot to put in the batteries( I always either forget to recharge the batteries or leave them behind) . There were alot of people with cameras so hopefully I will get the pictures so I can put them up on the blog.

Around 1.30 we were ready to put the first lot of tea bowls into the kiln. Most people had not seen a raku kiln before so there was alot of interest in it and in the process of firing one. I did try to answer the technical questions to the best of my knowledge and Christine was great to fill in the blanks. While the kiln was firing more people arrived so I enlisted the “new experts” to help with the glazing while I sorted out recharging the video camera. During the week I had emailed people suggesting that they bring a picnic but unfortunately the rain was so heavy for most of the day. Some people went off the cafe’s and resturants around Thomastown. I had my lunch at 5 provided by Tomm who was insistent that I should eat it. I was so busy I wasn’t even thinking of food- surprisingly!

I had about 4 raku firings in all. The first one was the slowest as the kiln needs to heat up. The subsequent firings took about an hour. We had only one explosion! Overall people seemd very happy with their tea bowl and with the results of the raku firing. There was alot of oohhh’s and aaahhh’s over the glazes.

Every morning I water the peat circles and the paper with seeds. The plants are growing towards the light so are leaning  as if they have been blown by the wind.

This morning I listened to the mediation cd about sacred space when I am getting organised. It’s a good way to get focused for the day.

I started to make list of things I need to organise while I am here doing this residency and in particular I need to organise a raku firing in Grennan Mill in Thomastown. I will contact everybody who made a tea bowl and invite them out to the raku firing. I hope to record this on video.

I emailed Gus Mabelson about  organising the firing so I have to ring him on Monday about the details.

Every morning I like to take our dog for a walk in the wood. Last monday I woke up to a snow covered landscape and couldnt wait to get out for a walk. I brought my camera with me and took some photos of the snow in the wood. I was thinking about how I love walking in the morning when it is so peaceful and quiet and I was also thinking about ceramics. An idea, a drawing, a feeling revealed itself to me and when I got into the studio I immedaitely started drawing with charcoal.

This was the starting point for me and I continued to make more drawings this time using watercolours.

Mary Butler saw the drawings and I spoke to her about the ceramic installation I want to make. She was really helpful and offered me lots of advice on making a mock up to get the feel for the scale of the ceramic installation.

making a tea bowl

Today I decided to use the potters wheel. Last week I brought it into the studio and it had remained idle for a few days. I threw some tea bowls all different shapes and sizes and I forgot how like meditation it can be. I have to focus on the clay and what is happening on the wheel.

Patrick O Connor came in today and made two tea bowls. Patrick was an Artist in residence in the same space a while back.

I am really enjoying watching the seeds grow on the peat forms and the way they lean towards the natural light. I want to use the whole space not just the floor so I started to think about other sacred spaces. The forest and woodlands are special places and for me there is a sense of awe at the beauty of them. I took some photos of the woods near my house early on Monday morning when the snow had fallen and I used these as a source of inspiration for drawing.

The mustard and cress seeds are growing.

These tree like forms will be hand built and raku fired.

I also had my first impromptu visit from a group of special needs people and they wanted to watch me throw a tea bowl( which i did). Some really enjoyed asking questions and were very inquistive. I enjoyed their brief visit.

Today I extended the peat and sand forms. I was researching sand mandalas so I decided to create a geometric shape in the middle of the circuluar peat form and planted some mustard seeds.

When the buddist monks have finished the sand mandala they have a ceremony and at the end they sweep the sand up and pass it out among the people. It is a nice ending to something that has taken alot of time to create.

The space is becoming more interesting now as the work is progressing. The hardest challenge for me was to not allow the empty space to imtimidate me. The real benefit for me is how one piece of work feeds another as I constantly refer to the work in progress. This allows for the work to naturally progress and change. I have been thinking alot about ceramics and how I will incorporate my love of clay and nature. There has been alot of published material on ceramics and installation and this is an area that I would like to investigate further.

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Art at No. 76

The aim and focus of the Art Residency at No. 76 is to enable the successful applicant to research and develop their practice. Other aims of the residency are to: give insights into how and why artists create their work, build relationships and further promote the Arts, provide an awareness and further appreciation of the Arts, cultivate and develop new audiences. The Kilkenny Arts Office is part of

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January 2021