Zhenrutang

View looking out from the  Zhenrutang gate.

View looking out from the  Zhenrutang gate.

This place is quite amazing. It consist of three distinct parts all nestled in a small valley.  A museum, the resident studio and living quarters, and a larger factory that employs 50 worker making very high quality porcelain wares. The Zhenrutang residency program is located in the historic (looking) buildings that line the stream. The buildings were built only 3 years ago using materials form old historic structures that were shipped here and reassembled. The result is a beautiful mix of modern and ancient.

The peaceful atmosphere here is in stark contrast to the hectic craziness of Jingdezhen city. My studio overlooks a stream and has all the natural light I could ask for. I understand from the workers that this level of solitude is not always the case. When the road is open, a steady stream of visitors come down Sanbao road to visit both this place and the Sanbao residency. Most all of Sanbao road is under construction at the moment and has greatly affected the flow of visitors.  As it is now, we have a ten minute walk to get past the closed bridge. From that point it is a rough ride into town on a road that is more pot hole than road. One gets used to it quickly though. 

Resident side of the road.

Resident side of the road.

View from my studio. I decided to work in the factory building. 

View from my studio. I decided to work in the factory building. 

Driveway to Zhenrutang from gate.

Driveway to Zhenrutang from gate.

Porcelain Capital of the World

Jingdezhen is quite a bit larger than I had imagined. The (registered urban) population here is about 440,000 (Kansas City is 470,000). I have been told that 40% are involved with the ceramic process in some way. The city is full of shops selling only glazes, shops selling only brushes, shops that only do plaster molds, and so on.  Not to mention the countless stores selling the finished pieces. Every nook and cranny is taken advantage of here. Pots are drying on every flat surface available, every back ally I've looked down has evidence of the ceramic process spilling out into the already tight passageways. People do not take days off here. The work continues seven days a week, all day. 

Your Swedish IKEA ceramics come from here.

Your Swedish IKEA ceramics come from here.

1st Post from Jingdezhen, China

After two days of being stuck in a rainy Shanghai due to canceled flights for my final destination, I decided to take my chances on a train ride to Jingdezhen. A 14 hour train ride in the middle seat with no sleeper to be exact.  And yes, there is smoking on the train if you were wondering. It took many hand gestures and following symbols/numbers to get from Hongqiao airport (one of two international airports in Shanghai) to the main train station, then onto the long distance train into the country. I can tell you that I got (what felt like to me) a full spectrum of people in on 24 hr. time window. I would have rather taken the one hr. flight at the time, but with a little distance - I am glad to have had the experience. 

Once I arrived at 4 in the morning, a worker from Zhenrutang was there to pick me up. The residency site is beautiful and secluded on the outskirts of Jingdezhen. It took me a few days to get rested and to figure out how to get around the Great Firewall of China, but now I expect to posting on a regular basis. More on the city, residency, etc. later on.  

2015 Cup Sale for Jingdezhen

Thank you for all the support that has already come in! 

Keep an eye open for the travel diary posted here this summer. I have been somewhat derelict about this blog page in the past, but I plan on devoting a few minutes a day for updates in the coming months.  I plan on writing a profile piece on Zhenrutang while there. Any questions about the experience that arise from the travel log  would be appreciated - I would address them in the article perhaps?!?

Thanks All!

rwjames

 

Finished video of wood firing event

In October of 2013, the University of Kansas and the Lawrence Arts Center hosted a wood fire workshop that culminated in a weekend event that had 4 kilns firing to temperature at the same time. During the day I had a chance to interview a few artist about either their role in the event or there thoughts on wood firing.  School obligations delayed the finished product until now, but it is finally done and off my plate!

ps. I made this on a grad student budget, so $200 for a camera and whatever software we already had on the computer. I don't expect any oscar nominations, but it was fun to do. 

 

https://vimeo.com/88809805

Wood-fired Ceramics: 100 Contemporary Artist

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A new book focusing on wood-fired artist was released a few days before Christmas this year. The book brings together some of the more established ( Jack Troy, Ron Meyers, Simon Levin) with some of the younger people working in the laborious manner of firing with wood. I was lucky enough to be included in the 100.  It is a nice opportunity to see the work along with the  writing of the artist to understand a little of the makers motives through their own words. 

Pick up a copy at here.   

Ben Cirgin and Chris White

A couple of friends who make amazingly good work and who also happen to be on opposite sides of the clay spectrum. I find the dichotomy interesting here, two different ways to get to solid, well made, and compelling ceramics. Please take the time to visit their websites. Thanks   - Ben Cirgin and Chris White. 

Ben fires his work in a wood kiln and makes some nice subtle pots, both in the gradation of  flame-work and in the actually form itself. Theres a nice conversation happening between those two aspects that keep the pots interesting and refined without becoming too predictable or too loud.  

Chris makes insanely detailed work fired in an electric kiln. Each piece comes to fruition through countless tool marks and many layers of stains and glazes. The work here gets it power through meticulous crafting and planing and has a defined narrative the piece revolves around. It keeps me interested in a different way, works different sensibilities. 

Ben Cirgin    benjamincirgin.com

Chris White   www.christopherdavidwhite.com

"Lets Talk About Love, Baby" at iMOCA

This Saturday, May 18 4-6 p.m. will be a gallery talk for all the artist who participated in the love library section of Chido Johnson's exhibition at the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art.  A number of artist were invited to make books referencing love or the notion of love. There were many great pieces and Saturday will be a chance to listen to the contributors explain there work in a little more detail. Please come if you are anywhere around Indianapolis.  iMOCA

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Website for the project here:  Lets Talk About Love, Baby                                                       Chido website here:   chidox.com

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WSAC Singularities Exhibition

Here are a couple of videos from the recent "Singularities" exhibition. One is a walk through of the show and one is a process shot of the unfired clay piece. All in all it was a nice experience. Thanks to Peter Ellis the gallery owner, I was fortunate to have 2 months in which to work out problems in gallery. Also thanks to Leticia Bajuyo, a terrific exhibition partner and mentor. Hope to have quality pictures up soon.