Thursday, October 19, 2017

No Dress Rehearsal



 No dress rehearsel
This is our life- Gord Downie The Tragically Hip

I’m excited to show you the invite for “Bon Feu” a show that has been in the planning stages for the better part of a year. This will be the biggest and most ambitious show that Shane Norrie Contemporary in Stratford, Ontario will have staged since opening a year and a half ago.
Since wood kilns are indeed fired periodically you have to give everyone enough run time to make it to the show on time. Here is the brilliant one whose idea it was for this show hoping that I get a couple of racers out of this weekends firing. So as it goes in this game of risk there is no dress rehearsal. Pressure makes diamonds. The work is made and looking good now it is up to the kiln, the crew and Lady Luck.
If you can make it to the show I promise it is worth your while. We have rented The Red Rabbitt Restaurant for a pre show dinner. This is for the potters to celebrate our love of one another's good company and to shake off all the time we spend alone.
Please come to the show opening at 7pm and then you're welcome to join us at a watering hole nearby post opening. We have rented a hotel so we can continue the party and no one drives home. We potters have a reputation to live up to. We don’t get out much.
With Gord’s death I went on a soul search yesterday and had an imaginary talk with the person I was three years ago and the person I will be 3 years hence. I flirted with myself and asked myself some impertinent questions. Many wish they could go back in time. I don’t!
 No dress rehearsel

This is my life.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Canada is weaker today


Today as I get ready to welcome my best wood firers to fire Cassius Clay here at Pinecroft I am saddened listening to the music of Canada’s Gord Downie of The Tragically Hip. Gord died last night of brain cancer. Canada is weaker with the loss of one of our finest artists.
In a CBC interview recorded earlier he said “ I don’t play golf, I make art, that is what I do”. I identified with that statement so closely the tears were streaming down my cheeks.
So not much to say today except how important it is to make art. How it touches lives and how important it is in our lives. Gord’s last concert was watched by 1 in 3 Canadians. A potter will never command that kind of attention or audience  but from what I know of Gord Downie he would have given you that attention and all of his attention. Make your art as if today is the last day. 
If you have never listened to a Hip song treat yourself. Here is one of my favourites- A Boy from Fiddlers Green.
and another.
 Courage.
There’s no simple explanation
For anything important any of us do
And yeah the human tragedy
Consists in the necessity
Of living with the consequences
Under pressure, under pressure
Courage, my word, it didn’t come, it doesn’t matter
Courage , my word, it didn’t come, it doesn’t matter
Courage, it couldn’t come at a worse time.  Gord Downie.


A sad day in Canada.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

On Strike!






So I decided to take a Drawing course at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario and two weeks in the faculty go on strike. I’ve been a teacher on strike so I know how it feels. It ain’t a good feeling.
On my second class I took some pictures of the facilities for a drawing class. To say it is a shit hole is an understatement. I have never seen a clay sculpture room in such a horrible mess. I took an ice pick to scrape the plaster off the tables so we could actually use the surfaces to draw. The sinks were plugged with stagnant water and overflowing with un-cleaned stainless steel bowls covered in hard plaster Here is a pic of the broom they use to sweep around the silica dust.
I taught part time at Sheridan College for 15 years and I can tell you there would be hell to pay if students ever left a room looking like this. They were taught to vacuum and wet mop in the Bobby Orr fashion of stick handling.  The studio technologist Hugh Douglas Murray was very responsible for the health and safety of students and faculty.
This is what happens when 70% of the faculty are part time and when support staff are cut to a minimum. I’m sure the caretakers open the door have a look and say there is no frickin’ way I’m going to try to clean that pig stye.  This is what the strike is about! It is the paring down of full time jobs. The business model of running a school of higher education.  No pensions, no benefits, no talk back from part timers. You never know whether you have a job next semester or not. Talk back and for sure you don’t!
 The part time faculty are paid for hours of teaching. They are off and running to another paying gig or home to their studios to make enough money to pay the bills. They are only paid for hours of teaching..  Management likes part timers because they get no benefits, can be fired at will, and they always work longer than the teaching hours they get paid for.  Teaching craft is not like teaching math. OK class open your textbook at page 44 and do the questions at the end of the chapter.
No studio should look like this and cleaning up should be taught. As I have said before 15% of the time I spend being a potter is spent actually making things. The rest of the time is maintenance!

I totally support the faculty on strike. If the schools keep following the business model soon 70% of the courses will be online.  Learn all you need to be a fine craftsperson on U-tube. Amazon U.