Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Call for art works!

Behind the Seen - Finnish and German ceramic art exhibition at Porvoo Art Hall
15.04. - 08.05.2016

The theme for the exhibition is collaboration and it's hidden nature in ceramic art. The artworks exhibited at Porvoo Art Hall have been created in a multiprofessional collaboration or will contemplate the exhibition theme otherwise, since we have asked the exhibiting Finnish and German artist and artist groups to approach the exhibition theme freely. The exhibition call was open for The Finnish Association of Designers Ornamo and German Bund der Kunsthandwerker Baden-Württemberg e.V. members.

Currently the project aims to travel as a new exhibition to Germany.

Read more about the exhibition.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Dear ceramicist/artist working with ceramics,

As you probably know by now, working with ceramics is far from simple. First of all, it is technically difficult and unpredictable. It also requires an immense amount of time and resources. What is even worse is that your friends and family do not understand what you do and you have no idea what to write on your business card. When you invite people to see your exhibitions, they expect to see vases, cups, or perhaps tiles. The most sophisticated ones might expect sculptures. You secretly enjoy seeing the confused look on their faces when you tell them that you will actually show your recent project, which includes a performance with a stuffed seagull as a DJ and a naked actor rolling in mud while you smash old televisions with a baseball bat. The person you are talking to looks at you and says that it sounds more like a piece of contemporary art than ceramic art. You let out a sigh of desperation because that person has obviously not read your business card that says ‘contemporary artist/performer/sculptor working mainly with ceramics but also with other materials’.

As you know, the history of ceramic art dates almost as far back as the history of the human kind, and is often considered to be one of the oldest industries in the world. For thousands of years, ceramics and clay have been used as a material for creating objects of function, magic, and everything in between, ranging from animal and human figurines made for ceremonial purposes to decorated vases for storing food. What these historical objects have in common is that they all have two features you might have heard of: form and function. Due to something someone once called ‘survival of the fittest’ the most important quality in a ceramic object was that it would serve its purpose. In other words: for a very long time, the need for functional objects, created in order to survive, has been the primary reason for making ceramics. Unfortunately, many people still think that we are living in the Stone Age.

Considering the short amount of time ceramics has been used for something as useless as art, is it a wonder that people are confused when you work with performance art but call yourself a ceramicist? Or that you work with ceramics but call yourself a performance artist? As you might know, contemporary art is not about form, and most certainly not about function. Contemporary art is about society, feelings, bubble gum, politics, gestures, war, confetti, and ego, for example. That is why you have had to widen your toolbox, take courses in video art and Photoshop, and send opinionated texts to your local newspaper. In your heart you are an artist but you have the brain of a craftsman. You take so much pride in your work, you have had successful exhibitions, you have received important grants, and you are angry because the Museum of Contemporary Art does not buy your works.

If there is anything positive about this situation, it is that you are not alone. Your colleagues working with ceramics are exactly in the same position. Luckily, as the Behind the Seen -exhibition and many other examples show, the best (ceramic) art is often made in collaboration. Ceramics as a material is so versatile, complicated and challenging that without collaboration and exchange of knowledge between artists, technicians and mould makers, for example, many of your art works would not have seen the light of day. Another equally important element in collaboration is that it forces you to challenge your own traditions, tricks and superstitions. I bet you always add an extra milligram of cobalt oxide to your blue glaze, turn on the throwing wheel with your left hand, and believe that otherwise it will all go to hell. Perhaps one day your world will be turned upside down when you meet someone who uses their right hand to turn their wheel on, and adds an extra milligram of iron oxide to their finest blue glaze. What is even more likely is that you will meet someone who uses ready-made glazes and outsources their thrown objects to China.

Dear ceramicist/artist working with ceramics, not only does collaboration allow you to explore new and exciting ways of working and making art, but also a sense of belonging. You may or may not feel it every time you put your hands on fresh clay, but you belong to a long, long line of ceramic traditions and material knowledge. Ultimately it is your own decision what you choose to do with it, but you do have the privilege and the responsibility to keep exploring and creating new forms of ceramic art. Luckily you love what you do, you are willing and able to take on the challenge to move past the endless debate of who you are and where you fit in, and create some fantastic 

Kaisu Savola graduated from the BA in ceramics and glass art programme at Aalto University but to her disappointment she did not have enough love and patience for the material to pursue a career as a ceramicist/artist working with ceramics. Instead she studied history of design at the Royal College of Art in London and graduated in 2015. After some years abroad she will return to Aalto this autumn to write her PhD about Finnish design education in the past 50 years.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Association of Arts and Crafts Baden-Wuerttemberg Germany

Initiated by the English Arts and Crafts movement at the end of the 19th century, many associations, schools, and museums were founded all over Europe. In Germany southwest region, two associations were founded, 1876 in Stuttgart and 1885 in Karlsruhe. Later they were combined and merged to the existing BdK in 1947 with headquarter in Stuttgart, the capital of the state Baden-Wuerttemberg in South West Germany.

BdK is a cultural non-profit organisation with the aim to cultivate and support contemporary applied arts. By organizing exhibitions and fairs, at regional and international level, we want to draw the attention of the broad public towards our unique field of arts and, at the same time, support our members in their wide field of professional expertise.

Our members are specialized in the field of arts, crafts, and design. All of our members are qualified in their professions by studies and/or apprenticeships, and they are working independently in their own workshops and studios. The results of their works have to be sophisticated, and of high technical quality, to ensure a significant contribution to the contemporary field of applied art. A committee decides upon the admission of the new members.

The BdK is closely co-operating with museums, local authorities, and the ministry of finance and economy in the state of Baden-W├╝rttemberg. Regularly, exhibitions in the state museums in Stuttgart and Karlsruhe, as well as in the famous castle of Ludwigsburg, are taking place.

Biannualy our members are invited to take part to the competition of the States Award with following exhibitions in various cities. It is important for us to set up a network of artisans from other countries and regions, especially with The Finnish Association of Designers Ornamo. We invite them to join our exhibitions as guests and take part in symposia of various topics and materials.

Judith Brauner
BdK Bund der Kunsthandwerker Baden-W├╝rttemberg