Tuesday, April 25, 2017

What the hell are you trying to do?

While checking for bad links on my website I came across something I had written a few years ago, which sums up perfectly my intentions for the "Critical Mass" sculpture to be exhibited in Venice shortly.

"Moreover, unlike many artists who work alone in their studios, my studio practise is a very social experience. I share an open plan studio with 4 other artists and over 60 students. 

Being in an inner city park, we see hundreds of people relaxing, socialising and drinking outside, as well receive a steady stream of often unannounced visitors. 

Both consciously and unconsciously, all these things feed into my thinking and making.  

As artists, we sometimes forget that our sole role is to gift others unique personal and collective experiences. There is a tremendous feeling of liberation when we live solely to create such experiences, rather than to purely make objects (or commodities). 

Visual artists and crafts people sometimes become confused, obsessing narrowly on the image or object, yet it is the quality of the whole experience that distinguishes a good or bad artwork. 

With the advancement of mass production and now 3D print technology, I believe a reminder of our primary role is timely. 

The orthodox art events present singular images and objects for individuals to experience. 

The market encourages individuals to purchase artworks for private enjoyment or to become symbols of their personal taste, wealth or social location. 

However it is the collective experience of art which offer a heightened transcendent experience, diminishing feelings of alienation, by recreating timeless social rituals and social memories of belonging."

source: Graham Hay and Dr Neil Carlin (School of Archaeology, University College Dublin), Translating ceramics: Neolithic to Digital, to Contemporary Social Object, Ceramics Ireland, 2015, 34, p44-46 Copy of whole article online here.

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Black List

In the past, the personal taste of a very small homogeneous pool of senior Hollywood film company directors directly controlled which scripts were made into films.

"There was no efficient mechanism by which people with talent could even make the industry aware of their talent..." source: 4 Mar 2017, 7:41 the greatest films never made. Alex Wagner AFR p30-32

Change came when in 2005 when "Franklin Leonard surveyed almost 100 film industry development executives about their favorite scripts from that year that had not been made as feature films. This list of scripts became the first ever Annual Black List. Since then, the voter pool has grown to about 500 film executives, 60% of whom typically respond. The Annual List has served to help spotlight scripts which would go on to earn over $26 billion in worldwide box office and to receive 256 Academy Awards nominations and 48 wins, including Best Pictures SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, THE KING'S SPEECH, ARGO and SPOTLIGHT, and ten of the last fourteen screenwriting Oscars."  
source: https://blcklst.com/about/ 4/3/17

In the visual arts there are similar bottlenecks:  On an international level every national government tries to control how it is represented, and so perceived, by which of its artists are presented, and the way they are framed by media and publications.  One of the most contentious issues in any country, including Australia, is their past and present treatment of their indigenous people.  In Australia, the federal government's Australia Council has this challenging task.   No doubt Tracey Moffat's participation will inflame debate for this reason, and she appears to be trying to sidestep this:  The ABC Radio National, another federal government instrument, appear to be working both and against the Australia Council in a recent broadcast.  Good luck with that.

My concern is more parochial, addressing a problem that can not really be address by policy or job description.  I have seen it in industry and in the arts:   the human nature to trust more those we see and interaction with more frequently and face to face.  The Western Australian community just do not frequent enough direct social and offical contact in real time and place, to influence the informal and fluid decision making processes that shape Australian's national cultural policy. For an insight into this process read more...

Any exceptions, only prove the rule.



Saturday, April 1, 2017

Mission Impossible?

Requirement: I had to write a short piece about my theories on "Art"

Contemporary art audiences question “what is art?” or “what is an artist?” when confronted with demanding work.  So any discussion and debate becomes complex and theoretical.  Miscommunications occur due to language and culture differences.

To sidestep this complexity, I started with a concrete question: 

“Who are the artists? “

This became a two decade long critical ethnography examination of my immediate Western Australian (WA) artists community, informed by tertiary qualifications and experience in education, economics, politics and visual arts, and focussed on collective and individual artistic expression.

Ethnography began as a static, statistical study of culture.  It was an anthropology, then sociologically based field of research.   Early researchers went into 3rd world countries, believing they were objective and that they had no impact on the communities they were studying.  Critical ethnography is more contemplative, acknowledging this participatory and subjectivity bias.  

The unique local physical, demographic, cultural and politics influence my research and art:  WA is equal in geographic size to a combined Italy, Greece, Ireland, France, Germany, Spain, Poland and the UK.  The state capital of Perth contains most of the 2.6 m population so much of the state is unoccupied.  Perth is also the most geographically remote city on any continent: the drive from Perth to Sydney is slightly longer than Venice to Moscow.  Because of the isolation, a strong self sufficiency attitude dominates.  Established as a colony in 1829, a majority of Western Australia voted in a 1933 referendum to succeed from Australia, but blocked by the British Parliament.  The population has doubled since 1977 due to successive agricultural, mineral and energy booms, with over three quarters of the population are of English, Irish, Italian, Scottish and German descent.   Recently most of the major WA galleries have closed down, removing critical support structure for the artistic community.  So I am an artist, studying my peers, in this tiny, remote, isolated, booming, euro-centric and fiercely independent thinking, but stressed community.  

A critical ethnography approach is both pedagogical and political.  In sharing my creative conclusions, I am acutely aware of my subjectivity and politics:  I researched every grant recipient for 30 years and present their names beside a corresponding much greater number of  “unsuccessful grant applicant who vote”.  Similarly I presented a 4 tonne levitating spiral of government documents in the High Court in the national capital. 

For Venice I handmade thousands of porcelain flutes, adding to a 2.5m high supporting circle of figures.  Over 2,000 of the flutes are labelled with the web or social media for WA artists.  The flutes may be used by the early audiences to drink Prosecco, keep as souvenir, and to learn about and contact WA artists directly.  The partial tearing apart of the sculpture will be filmed and replayed alongside the remaining skeleton over the exhibitions 6 month duration. 



Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Ghost on the wheel

I regularly receive comments about pottery classes and the Ghost movie

(and today Peter Bell on ABC radio 720 has just put petrol on that fire)

Why are my Perth Pottery and Sculpture classes are “Ghost Free”.

Over the years I have learnt to turn off my mobile whenever Ghost is on the TV, due to a surprising number of calls from young, and not so young, drunk males who think a bit of clay and a wheel will solve their relationship problems.

I’m not a wowser, and have many couples as past and current students, plus a few students have had babies after starting the classes, even an engagement and at least a couple of weddings.

What is forgotten is that the ghost scene happened in a private home.

When the ghost play came to Perth, I received calls from theatres wanting potters wheels, actor tutoring in throw and at least one interviewer wanting to run the ghost angle in an article about my classes.

I did try and get an other potters studio to run Friday night pottery date night class (as happens in only ONE studio in the whole of the US), but they declined.


So I ended up modify a ghostbuster poster to show a banned ghost making a pot :) and placed it on the class webpage.

Ultimately I put the interests of my current and happy students ahead of prospect misguided new students.  Would you like someone making out or having sex to you while you're trying to relax and made something beautiful? 

What do you all think?

PS. If you want to hire a wheel and take it home (with my blessings)  The Potters Market rents out wheels at very reasonable rates, and stocks plenty of clay, near Fremantle: Map and contact details below.

https://www.google.com.au/maps/place/The+Potters+Market/@-32.0426902,115.7538157,13z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x2a32a24e9f96f78b:0x4640022eb75cef9b!8m2!3d-32.061168!4d115.788663

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

WA artists' response overwhelmingly






WA artists' response has been overwhelmingly*.

 So encouraging, that I have to share.


It's keeping me going ...


Thank you so much!



Your verbatim comments so far* with identifying detail removed:


thanks Graham, what a great idea. So typical of you to be thinking broadly about, and offering, support for WA artists. Good on you, and all the best for the exhibition.


Hi Graham
What a generous initiative and best of luck to you.
Here is my website address. Feel free to use it on a flute. Thanks for the opportunity.


This sounds like a fun project and I look forward to seeing the video.


Hi Graham!
Congrats on the opportunity to show at the Venice Biennale!
My website is:
Good luck with it all.


Great Idea Graham and thanks for spreading me around ! My website details are;


Hi Graham
What a generous initiative and best of luck to you.
Here is my website address. Feel free to use it on a flute. Thanks for the opportunity.


Thank you for creating this brilliant opportunity, and for supporting all artist. All the best! Can't wait to see the final piece Xx

Hi there,
Would love to be a part of your Italian project.
Instagram account is @
Thank you!

This sounds like a fun project and I look forward to seeing the video.
Cheers

Hi Graham, can you please send info re Venice Biennale. My website is....  I know I'm a few days late in getting this to you but didn't get a copy of Artists Chronicle till just now.
Many thanks,
George.

Hi Graham, sounds amazing . Congratulations on getting this far , and what a thoughtful and generous project on your part. I certainly understand where you are coming from and feel the same way .
Not sure if you remember I had the underwater mermaids dive trail at SXS, met you there
I'd be very grateful if you include my web site address thankyou. Kind regards Olivia

Hi Graham here is my website address and instagram acc
Good luck with your exciting project it sounds fabulous. Looking forward to hearing back from you soon.
Kind regards Lyn

Thanks for making this opportunity happen.
Facebook page: 

*****

Hi Graham, this is such a cool idea, love it! Will be following the progress of the project. All the best.


Lucy or Sue may already have been in touch but if not would you please put our website for …............ on a flute as follows:

Hi Graham,
Just read about your flute project for the Venice Biennale in the Artsource artLines#1 mail out and would like to be part of the project.
I am looking forward to your confirmation.
Thank you for the opportunity and best wishes for this venture.
Kind regards,

Re: Creative Flute Lottery
Hello Graham,
Here are my details:
All the best, Elisa

Sounds like a brilliant concept Graham. Great interaction with the public and important people. We appreciate your collaboration and help. Beautiful work man.
If selected my web address is:

Congratulations graham, love this concept. It sounds so much like you. I remember you did a wheel with all the WA artists on fling cards and I found my name, thanks for promoting us all. Let's hope I can get to the Biennale. Cheers,
Catherine

Hi Graham, look forward to seeing the work come together for the Venice Biennale.
My links are as follows
Thank you and happy creating!!

Hi Graham,
I just saw your listing in the Artsource Newsletter for your Venice Biennale project, such an interesting idea!
My website is or Instagram: if you are still looking for artists to contribute.
All the best with the work!
Laura

Hi, keen for a flute, can you put my web address on,
Cheers!

I really would like the opportunity to be on a flute. I'm currently updating my website but it should be all done in a few weeks. Below are my details for printing. THANKYOU
Hayley

Hi Graham,
My website is
Thank-you for the opportunity.
Shelley

Hi Graham. Good luck in Venice. We were there in 2015 and had an amazing time. My web address is


I'm a botanical artist working in Gidgegannup, West Australia, about an hour out of Perth, we live on 100 acres of mostly bushland, which is great for inspiration! My website is


I would love my details to be on a flute. I love the element of chance you have created and wish you all the best with the venture



for your flutes Graham:


Brilliant idea! All the best installing them!
Instagram :

xxxx is where I'm at
I'm just up the road form you in north perth :-)
This is a great project!
Cheers
Davina

Would love to be included in the Venice project.

Perth-based Visual Artist, Early Childhood Educator, and Imagination Consultant. My speciality is recycled 


Hey Graham. Venice Biennale project Great idea.


i just caught Sohan Hayes on the fly and he said the idea was great. He's hectic so will forget within seconds... so here's a link on his behalf

G'day from WA
Website:
Contemporary Artist




I'd love to have my name and web address on a flute. Good luck and congratulations with such an awesome project.

Thanks for the opportunity to submit my website for your project. Great idea. Thanks for supporting WA artists.

Hi Graham
What a fantastic idea - love to be included. My website is:-
ps are you a relative of David Hay - a glass artist?. I had an exhibition with him at Gunyulgup Galleries in the south west a few years back.

Potter/ceramic artist working for 23 years in WA
THANK YOU
I have already replied to this once very early on but no response - am I just being impatient, sorry if that's the case!

Thanks Graham. Great project.. all the best!
Dave

Please add me to your artists from Western Australia.
Kind regards, Susan S



Thanks Graham . Very interesting project and good luck for your continued success. Your big heartedness is much appreciated.


for Creative Flute Lottery Venice Biennale.



Hi Graham,
I am a West Australian early career artist. Facebook link:
Great concept - love to be part of it.
Cheers
Bec

Hello Graham,
I'd love to be a part of your Venice Biennale artwork - as an "emerging" artist, recently graduated it would be a thrill to be part of Venice, even in a small way!
My website:
Thank you and best wishes for a successful exhibition.


(for the Venice Biennale project. Thanks, such a fabulous initiative and opportunity!)

Hi Graham,

This sounds like such an interesting project, id love to be involved. Below are my details, i can't wait to see images.
Good luck with everything.
Kind regards,
Jana

What fun Graham - love working with other artists as you know. Please include my details for your flute installation....
Ciao
Alba

hi graham, did a class with you at FAC a year or two ago. still have done nothing with what you taught but the knowledge, the possibilities are waiting patiently.


Hi Graham. Can you add my website to your list for the flutes? This is an interesting experiment!
Thank you- and I hope it all goes well.
Best wishes,
Sue

Please add my contact details to the work for the Venice Biennale
Sarah E
Visual Artist
instagram -
web address -
Thanks

website is:
love its randomness..


Creative Flute Lottery submission-
sounds like a fun project!
regards
Joanna



Venice is an amazing place. Once you look past the swarms of people - and the often mediocre headliners - there is much to be found and enjoyed. 
The two big group shows and pavilions can be quite exhausting and frustrating. We found the fringe countries out in the city more appealing rather than what was in the 'garden'. We particularly enjoyed Estonia, Greece, Iraq, Cyprus, Scotland and quite a few others. Some countries totally mis-read the event and essentially use it like a trade fair for their economies (?).
'Personal Structures' - is that the show Graham will be in? - was great last time around and we really enjoyed it. Bembo is typically good and we saw good shows at Fortuny and Prada (and others) that weren't country specific.
The food is fairly simple but we really fell for grilled Octopus and Polenta.
It's almost impossible to walk from place to place given the maze and mass of people. The Vaparetto is really easy to use once you get your head around it and will make life a lot easier.
Hope that helps and good luck with it all.

p.s. I've posted the call to Artperth.





I am a West Australyan Ceramic figurative usculptor and mixed media painter. My Facebook page is . Please include me in your wonderful fantastic idea and thank you for supporting Western Austrsluan Art. What a great idea Graham you are an amazing ambassador for the arts in WA xxio. Nadine

What a wonderful idea!


Hi Graham
This is such a great idea. I would love it if I could be included.
I'm an emerging artist is Perth and am having such a blast meeting new people.
My contact details are
Rachel W
Thanks so much
Best regards
Rachel

Hello Graham
I read your notice regarding the Venice Biennale in the Artsource newsletter. I thought it sounded interesting and. a generous proposition, which in turn prompted me to spend some enjoyable time at your website.
I thought I would submit my web details as I like the idea of random possibilities and sending links out into the world. Best of luck with your project. I look forward to seeing the end result sometime, and although I would like to see it in the flesh, in reality it may be online.
My website is

Dear Graham
I have just sent an email in error while still editing it, apologies.
The website contained is incorrect and should read
Sorry for the inconvenience.
Kind regards
Lesley

Hi Graham, I picked up Artist's Chronicle today and saw your article, hope you can squeeze me in if you can. Thanks for being a generous artist.
All the best for the Venice Biennale.
Myra

Hi Graham,
Wonderful idea and sounds like a big project, if you have a spare cone for my details, that would be wonderful, i am contemporary jeweller from Witchcliffe , near Margaret River and also work in the Margaret River Artisanstore , a collaborative project we have been running foir 2 years now. my personal website is
Good luck with all!
Cheers Andrea

I think the Champagne flute is a great idea and as you say puts WA Artist's on the world map.

Hi Graham, This sounds like a fabulous idea! I have put both our names as we are both WA artists and this is our website. When is your installation happening? Steve and I are hoping to be in Venice in May. Good luck with it all.


HI Graham, Happy New Year. 
I just read your article in the Artist's Chronicle about your entry in the 2017 Venice Biennale.
I'd love to be included please.
Here is my facebook artist address...
Would you like me to share your quest with my networks?
Looking forward to hearign form you. Good luck
Sheryl


I was referred by a friend. 

Hi Graham 
I would like to be included in your Venice Biennale project. My website address is 
Many thanks for your generous gesture to provide this opportunity for WA artists. Good luck with the event.
Kind Regards Susan

*Emails received in response to http://www.grahamhay.com.au/2017veniceopportunity.html so far (20 Jan-6 Fed 2017, and still coming in). I now have about 1,000 artists web or social media addresses and a dozen are still coming in each day, so please be patient until  we check for errors in web and social media addresses sent and reply.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Eat the children / communicating by clay telegram


Like many, I woke up very early this morning wrestling with a problem.

In my case, I'm struggling with the details of an artwork I'm trying to create.

I have this idea of creating an artwork, that in it's consumption, becomes a bridge between the arts community here in Perth, Western Australia, the most remote city on a continent in the world, and those attending peak art event half way around the world.

But I have my own creative twist:

The artwork enables each members of the audience at the art event to be given the contact details for a corresponding creative person in Western Australian.  This is a multiples to multiples connection.

Over the last 25 years I have been mapping the Western Australian Artist community.  This is not just the names read regularly in the daily newspaper's art pages, but members of the wider local arts and crafts community.  Having given arts and crafts workshops with many members of this community and it's numerous small groups, I know many of them well. They have paid me to learn about and make art in a workshop or class, and so indirectly they funded my occupation as an artist, put food and drink on my table.

I wish to connect these people directly to approximately three thousand people who will be attending the opening of the exhibition I'm in, on the other side of the world.

As a committed "clayalotic" since childhood, it seems only natural to use the humble material of clay as the vehicle to make this communication happen.  So I propose to make individual ceramic porcelain vessels which will be used to make a huge sculpture.  At the exhibition opening night the sculpture will be progressively dismantled into these individual ceramic porcelain vessels, which will be filled with wine and given to each of the audience members to drink from, and keep.

The audience members will be free to keep these porcelain vessels, take them to other exhibition openings that night, to take them home, and perhaps to use them again elsewhere, or at the least to take it home as a keepsake of the evening.

There is a worm in this story:  Each individual ceramic porcelain vessel will have on it contact details for individual Western Australian artists or crafts people who have helped or supported me during the last 25 years.  They may be a professional or recreational artist, an art educator, or administrator.

This project then becomes both a mantra of thanks to the many who have helped me, but also an open invitation to create communication between individual people involved in the arts in two different places on earth.  A clay bridge.

I hope that at least who have taken home the thousands of individual ceramic porcelain vessels, will be tempted to use the details on their vessel, to contact the other person.  Even if it is to say "hi" I got this at an exhibition.  Perhaps to ask how their details got on the vessel?  Or do they make art?  Where do they live? and so on...

In these days of billions of flickering images, a small physical object may become the vehicle for building personal contact, through a share interest in looking at and making art.

The viewer considers about were the art came from, how it was made.  The Western Australian gets to hear about the art world, on the other side of the world.  Clay pen pals?

Even if only one or two of these connects leads on to an on going conversation and relationship, my work will have been done.

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Monday, October 31, 2016

Why do I sculpt in paper?




A  4 tonne sculpture in the foyer of the High Court of Australia in Canberra, Australia
While I am know for my ceramic paper clay sculptures in the ceramic and arts community, I also work in creating up to 3 tonne compressed paper sculptures.
The dry paper sculpturing came out of my frustration with drawing units at university.

As a sculptor/potter I found very frustrating (as many of my clay peers did) with being limited to a flat, unresponsive 2D plane. 
 Plus a health dose of antidisestablishmentarianism, which grew out of my experiences with an authoritarian father (a product of his time, and probably the only way for him to survive with 5 sons), being rather headstrong myself, and having just finished worked for a political lobby group. 
 Plus, as a very poor mature age arts student (we couldn’t afford a car for a decade), the piles of paper donated to me by fellow students to make into paper clay, offered a free material to sculpt, if only I could find a way to make it solid. 
 I begun to cut it into circles on a pottery banding wheel, then bolting it together into lumps, while at the same time came up with the idea of bolting them together into a paper tower. 
 After that, and over the next decade I slowly developed ways to compress it and carve it afterwards   (Gallery and explanations here).

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