'In the Making'
In the summer of 2016, the town of Clermont Ferrand invited me and another 22 ceramists from the Auvergne region to participate in an exhibition on the theme of 'Totem'.
Mmm food for thought....what could totem possibly mean I ask myself?
Research took me through the obvious sitings of totem poles from African tribes and native American clans symbolised by different animals and vegetation. Interestingly, the compilation of these animal divinities with special attributes traditionally carved into the pole are meant to provide a sense of protection and power to the community represented under it's 'banner'. Therefore, the common element seemed to me that totem represented the idea of family and therefore a sense of belonging.
Incidentally, in August 2016 the refugee crises captured my attention as it was at its peak with roughly one million refugees fleeing Syria, Afganistan and Iraq making their way to Europe in hope of sanctuary from war and persecution. The shock of seeing many migrant casualities, stranded and struggling for life also drowned at sea moved me to ask the question about humanity or lack of it especially from some European leaders failing to act responsibly.
Therefore my ' totem' is depicted as a sinking ship bound for Europe with humans scrambling up the pole mast to avoid their inevitable death. The sea will consume and obliterate them from existance, sucking them into the vast collective senselessness. In this totem these people are not protected, or have any divinities on their side neither a sense of family nor belonging. Humanity has forsaken them. These disposessed victims are looking for help but humanity and it's qualities have turned their back on humankind affected by events that they did not choose or ask for.
Here are the raw/green pieces with polished terra sigillata ready for the bisque firing. They are made with a mix of grogged stoneware clays.
The pieces were bisque to 900°c in the first firing so that the terra sigillata would keep it's shine. I made the totem in four parts that fit together using a plug system to reach a total height of 1.50cm when put together.
I prepared the pieces by using salt, coffee and copper carbonate packages closely tied to the boat with dried banana skin for some coloration in the pit firing.
In this photo, I have prepared the pit with saw dust, horse manure, salt and the green stuff is Carbon Carbonate.
The piece was fired for about 4 hours with a moderate wind blowing however there was some rain.