Notes from the Edge: Gail Nichol Reports on a Conversation with Australian Ceramic Artist Bruce McWhinney, Discussing the Ideas Driving His Work
Nichol, Gail, Ceramics Art & Perception
AFTER MANY YEARS OF PROFESSIONAL STUDIO WORK making brightly coloured electric fired tableware and some low-fired sculpture, Bruce McWhinney has returned to high temperature wood firing, his original interest as a student in the 1970s. This major shift in style and technique represents a bold and possibly risky career move. It could be likened to taking up the cello in middle age, aiming to reach the standard of Pablo Casals in a few short years. Is this madness? Art demands a willingness to dream, experiment and to follow one's heart. McWhinney has set himself this challenge, and is pursuing it with great passion. It is interesting to explore this development, the philosophy behind it and where his design background is leading him in the context of contemporary wood firing.
McWhinney moved to clay work in 1976, following initial training and work in interior design and advertising. He learned about wood firing and salt glazing at East Sydney College but then decided to focus on the strength of his design background and studied with Wedgwood and David Queensberry in England. Although he was intellectually interested in this work, McWhinney recalls feeling emotionally unattached. Now, many years later he has moved back to wood firing to 'regain his heart'. His work has developed in a series of leaps interspersed with life events such as building houses and having children. There were periods where he concentrated on specific objectives like design ware or sculpture. He investigated slab building, coiling, press moulding, slip casting and throwing. "All those skills have taken a very long time to acquire and hone. I have deliberately discarded some like slip casting, as it became too technical and industrial."
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Publication information: Article title: Notes from the Edge: Gail Nichol Reports on a Conversation with Australian Ceramic Artist Bruce McWhinney, Discussing the Ideas Driving His Work. Contributors: Nichol, Gail - Author. Magazine title: Ceramics Art & Perception. Issue: 74 Publication date: December 2008. Page number: 93+. © 2007 Ceramics Art & Perception Pty. Ltd. COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale Group.
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