La Perdrix trip, France – 2015 – Day 1Posted: April 7, 2015
This year a few of us Makers got a chance to squeeze onto a Ceramics trip to La Perdrix in France after a few ceramicists dropped out. Having been last year and had a great time I jumped at the chance to go again.
We were given two briefs for the week. The first brief being a reasonably straight forward one of making a ceramic gargoyle of our own face, which will then later be fired and hung in in La Perdrix with water spurting out it. Our second brief was a little more ambitious, and the main focus of the week. On the last full day of the week (Monday) we were all to make a big meal, with us having been put into 4 groups and each group being in charge of one course of the meal serving 17 people. These were the “mise en bouche” (the pre-starter), the starter, the main, and the desert. However, we were not only in charge of making the meal, but also every item of dinnerware needed for that course (excluding cutlery). I was placed in the a group in charge of the starter, which meant that we had to make all the bowls/plates depending on what we were serving, the drinking vessels for the meal, and the candle sticks for the table. We were told that we should give our dinner set a theme, possibly an artistic movement but potentially anything.
Myself and my group split off to gather some ideas and do some brainstorming.
Our first focus was to try and agree on what it was we would serve. The night before, when we arrived, we had gone to a restaurant in Bordeaux and eaten some very delicious onion soup. This being a classic French dish, and the big meal being served at the end of the week (and so not too close to the night we had already eaten onion soup), it seemed like a good choice. This drew me to the idea of creating an onion shaped bowl, with onions themselves being a nice curved shape, and eating onion soup out of an onion shaped bowl could be quite amusing.
While the group seemed enthusiastic at first, it was quickly decided that the idea was far too kitsch, and therefore distasteful and to be avoided. Personally, while I would strongly avoid kitsch in my usual work, I thought that it had a good place in this short project as being fun and straightforward, rather than something which needs any strong grounding in concept. Not only this, but there had been mention of Ingrid selling the pieces on a stall afterwards and giving us the proceeds, and I am all too aware that is a strong market for kitsch
But this is the nature of brainstorming, so I was happy to throw more ideas around and was happy with not going with the first idea that we had. I then mentioned the idea of Salvador Dali related tableware, melting off the table in the style of the melting clocks in his paintings
Again the group seemed to like the idea, and people started talking about the idea of making wobbly bowls and unsustainable structures. Somebody mentioned the fact that Salvador Dali had a pet anteater, and perhaps we could make an anteater candle stick
I was very excited by the idea of an anteater candle stick. Not only was it a very fun and novel thought, it was something more sculptural which is my only strength in terms of ceramics. Being in a group of 3 ceramics students and having had no more than a basic amount of experience with ceramics myself, I was very much worried about how much I would be able to contribute to the group, especially when it comes to making tableware which generally involves throwing on a wheel. While I am capable of producing something on a wheel, it would be after many failures and certainly not up to the standard that I expected the ceramics students would make with ease. However, I have been told in the past by my tutors as well as Claire Curneen (my favourite living artist who came in to tutor is in sculpting last year) that I have a talent for sculpting and that I should do it more. Because of this, I pushed to be put in charge of the ant eater candle stick.
I drew some initial sketches, which I was aware aren’t very good representations of an anteater as I didn’t have a reference to look at, and it had been a long time since I’d seen what one looked like. My main idea being an anteater which holds the candle in its tongue, trying to make it as bizarre a situation as possible to be sat in the middle of a table.