Conal Condren - Author, Philosopher and Historian

Ceramics

I enrolled in some pottery classes many years ago at The University of New South Wales, as therapy or escape from University administrative work. I took to the wheel quickly, bought myself one and continued using the University facilities, and the advice of the resident potters for several years. After moving house I stopped completely and took up potting again a few years ago, enrolling for classes at Hazelhurst Art Gallery. I am now an exhibiting Member of the Port Hacking Potters Group. I sometimes sell my work, and have taken the occasional commission, but only if the project interests me (no coffee cups). I still attend Hazelhurst, it gives access to expert advice, the company of fellow potters and the gas reduction kiln; but I work mostly at home on my elderly Shimpo wheel.

I regard pottery more as an art form than an aid to domestic living and I concentrate on getting better with difficult shapes; I emulate Korean and especially Japanese styles. I mix much of my own clay, with a preference for iron heavy bodies. Some work is from natural clays I’ve prepared from the South Coast of New South Wales. They’ve responded extremely well to gas reduction firing, but are not easy work on the wheel. Occasionally I throw from pure red raku clay intended for hand building only, as it has little elasticity, rather like a hard pastry and is extremely rough. I’ve sometimes had to stop as the blood from my hand spirals round in the slurry on the wheel.
I’m now experimenting with a wood ash glaze from guan/kuan. This is a very old simple type of Chinese stoneware glaze (felspar, bone ash and whiting/limestone), giving an almost opaque white or cream to grey crackle surface on a relatively porous body. It is transformed with wood ash and fired in a gas reduction kiln. Wood ash, strongly alkaloidal with silica traces, acts as flux, the results are highly variable.


Below is a gallery of some of my work.

Photo Gallery

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