Ceramica Multiplex Exhibition, Symposium and Workshop
At the end of 2004 I received (along with many others), an email inviting me to submit images for possible selection to exhibit in Ceramica Multiplex which was to be held in Varazdin, Croatia. I had just begun a new series of work using paperclay and decided to submit a couple of the images. Much to my surprise and delight I was one of 105 artists, from 43 countries to be selected. I then applied to the Arts Council for a Travel and Mobility Award to help cover the costs of travel, accommodation, symposium and workshop fees. I was very pleased to be granted 500 Euro which was about half the total cost.
In August I flew to Zagreb and caught a bus to the beautiful town of Varazdin, a couple of hours away. Varazdin is one of the most beautifully preserved Baroque towns in Croatia. Alongside the ceramic exhibition there was also another festival running, with a great number of stalls selling traditional foods and crafts. All sorts of music was being played and many people walked around in traditional dress or baroque costumes. The streets were bustling and there was a fantastic atmosphere. (Image 1)
The opening was a crowded and lengthy affair with all the speeches being translated from Croatian into both German and English. Many of the artists from the surrounding countries travelled to attend and I met makers from Denmark, Hungary, Estonia, Czech Republic, Rumania, Switzerland and Austria amongst others. Much of the work was sculptural, both abstract and figurative. There was no truly domestic ceramics, though there were a small number of vessel forms. There was not much colour/glaze in evidence, most work being variations of white and black using various oxides and smoking techniques. (Image 2)
The following day there was a symposium which was suppose to discuss the position of European ceramics and compare it with the state of ceramics in America and Japan, though it didn’t seem to follow that agenda. Janet Mansfield gave advice about writing for ceramic magazines while Gerry Williams, founder and editor of the American ceramics magazine Studio Potter spoke about various American ceramic artists. Gustav Weiss, one of the Grand Old Men of European ceramics and one-time editor of Neue Keramik, spoke on the philosophy of ceramics. The most interesting speaker for me was Jindra Vikova, a noted Czech ceramic artist who gave an illustrated talk about her work over the past 30 years.
The following day when we travelled to the Island of Cres, where we were given a guided tour of the town of Cres and then attended a private view of an exhibition of work by the Jury members in the mountain village of Lubenice. We were greeted by traditional dancers led by a musician playing a type of bagpipes made from the skin (without wool!) of a sheep. Two pieces by Jurg C. Bachtold can be seen in the foreground of the photograph. (Image 3)
A number of us stayed on for four more days to participate in a workshop. Unfortunately, the one I had booked into had to be cancelled at the last minute as Swiss Artist, Jurg Bachtold had become ill. His large-scale organic forms are fascinating and I was really looking forward to his workshop. Instead I took part in Gustav Weiss’s one on prehistoric style pottery – though as I’d run a similar one myself the previous year, it was a little disappointing, as I didn’t really learn anything new, except that dried corn cobs make good firing material!
The ancient village of Lubenice is a beautiful place, 400 metres above sea level. It is tiny, with narrow paths between the old stone houses it and was a lovely place to wander around or to sit and talk with fellow ceramic artists from a number of Eastern European countries. (Image 5)
I feel the event was well worth attending; at the exhibitions I was able to get an overview of, mainly Eastern European, contemporary ceramics and had the opportunity to meet and talk to many ceramicists from a wide variety of countries.
So if you get an email asking you to submit for an exhibition I would advise anyone to do so, you never know where it might take you! This year I have had work selected for BIMCA in Mallorca and attended the opening in May. Also as a result of meeting two Estonian artists, Kuylli Koiv and Aigi Orav, in Croatia, I was invited to participate in the 6th International Wood-fired Ceramics Symposium in Estonia in July 2006
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