Dublin Biennial, Ireland, 12-22 June 2014
The 2014 Dublin Biennial features the works of over 50 Contemporary International and National Artists, at the CHQ Building in the IFSC, Dublin 1, 13-22 June
Ceramic Ireland Journal article
This is the tale of the evolution of the ideas and processes behind the work exhibited there, by one artist, Graham Hay, from Perth, Western Australia.
The Director, Maggie Magee, first saw my work and then meet me while I was exhibiting in the 2013 Florence Biennale. She encouraged me then, and in latter emails, to apply to participate in the Dublin Biennial, which I eventually did.
In February 2014 I was advised that I had been selected to participate.
There is a real danger with shipping large ceramic works. I remember 20 years ago, after I shipped two works to Darwin (Australia), 4000 km (2500 miles) away, I received a phone call from the curator saying that my work (singular) was broken, and did they want me to repair it for the exhibition? What had happened is that the road vibration had destroyed any padding, and then went on to grind one work against the other, until only the top half of the upper work remained. This was my introduction to the “school of hard knocks” in ceramics!
I tend to make ceramic paper clay sculptures from hundreds of small parts, predominately rod forms. This was to illustrate my understanding of dynamic nature of social networks and institutions in the the Western Australian arts community over the last 30 years.
More recently an emerging academic research area, called Social Network Analysis (SNA) has emerged. This now provides an alternative theoretical framework for my ongoing work, to my previous interest in the elite theories developed by Mosca (1858-1941).
As a consequence of using Social Media (think Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat etc) we are all beginning to see our family and friends as separate visual networks.
For myself, a good starting point to show these ideas as sculptures, was our uniquely Western Australian Banksia tree flower, with hundreds of tiny flower heads. Unaware of this, many people think my ceramic paper clay sculptures were inspired by sea coral. See for yourself some of my ceramic paper clay sculptures here. Over the last few years I predominately use Les Blakebrough’s Southern Ice Porcelain Paper Clay, manufactured by Clayworks.
Exploring the physical and social boundaries of ceramic art and paper practice, by fragmenting artworks down into small parts prior to shipping. I am using them to create social engagement and connects with fellow artists. I hope to incorporate a public ritual with the work in Dublin. An example of this type of process.
Research Irish Ceramic History
I like to make art that is about the social, economic and cultural context it is presented.
More recently I have begun to research the history of ceramics in different places. For example, when making large sculptures about smart phones, I researched the first non-pictorial language and the material it was recorded on - clay cuneiform tablets.
For this project I researched some of the earliest Irish pottery, particularly the late third millennium BC Beaker culture. Eventually I contacted expert Dr. Neil Carlin, from the University College Dublin.
Dr. Carlin has an interest in the social rituals associated with pottery/ceramics, and how these in Ireland, were fundamentally different to that in Britain and Europe.
I was particularly taken with the polypod bowls, many of which were discovered on the outskirts of Dublin. These are similar in form to the Kava bowels used in W. Samoa, drunk at all important gatherings and ceremonies.
Studio Art Production:
As a consequence of my research I was interested in creating two large multi legged ceramic and compressed polypod bowls. I then hand-making and firing over 330 porcelain paper clay flute forms, which would both be part of the two sculptures, as well be used in some ritual during one of the social functions at the exhibition.
Having previously assembled and then hacked an open source 3D printer to enable it to print clay, I was very familiar with this emerging technology. So I designed the bowl forms to be eventually printed in sections in Dublin, using new Irish technology, the MCOR 3D printer, which prints in paper.
In Western Australia, Michael Dixon, from Dixon Design + Development - industrial design / product development, kindly converted my drawings into CAD and then STL file format.
I was very surprised to discover that MCOR 3D printer services were not available in Ireland! However I was encouraged by the company to contact German and Belgium companies who provided 3D printer services using the MCOR machines. Despite claims that this is the cheapest and most environmentally friendly 3D printer technology, the quotes were 3,000 - 8,000 Euro! This completely deflated my aspirations of using Irish technology to make the paperwork (parts) for my sculpture for the irish audience (and to reduce shipping costs).
So, I quickly made the paperwork in my studio, by cannibalising some old sculptures I had made from thousands of identical maps of parts of Western Australia. I used laborious dry techniques I had invented and developed since 1993. Examples of my work and an explanation is here.
Initially I had planned for the 302 ceramic and compressed paper parts as Carry, Checked and Excess airline luggage, and Emirates kindly offered to increase my allowances. However, in the end it was still cheaper to airfreight the work ahead. For curatorial staff I provided a short video showing the steps with voice over key advise.
On the 12 June I flew in to Dublin, and begun assembling the work, finishing an hour before the Artist Reception and Welcome by the Mayor.
A week later I took part in a very stimulating panel discussion
PANEL CONVERSATION: NATURE, CEREMONY AND SYMBOLS
Saturday, 14 June, 3.00pm – 4.30pm
The Dublin Biennial Gallery, The CHQ Building, IFSC, Docklands, Dublin 1
Chair: Dr. Marisa Ronan, Dublintellectual
Dr. Neil Carlin, IRC Fellow, UCD School of Archaeology
Graham Hay , Independent Artist
David Orr, Independent Artist and Photographer
Dr. Alan A.D. Peatfield, College Lecturer in Greek Archaeology, UCD School of Archaeology
Installation and Exhibit:
At the last public function I dismembered the top of the two sculptures, which became wine “flutes” for the audience to drink from, and to take away a physical memento or symbol of the event. “Human cultures use symbols to express specific ideologies and social structures and to represent aspects of their specific culture”- wikapedia (@17/7/14)