THE “On the Edge of the Shelf” wood-fired ceramics festival wrapped up this week with a band of happy internationally acclaimed artists heading back home around the world.
Taking with them fond memories of the Far South Coast and maybe a piece or two of ceramics stashed away in their luggage.
The 20 invited international artists were very pleased when they opened the massive anagama-style kiln on Saturday morning revealing hundreds of ceramic pieces that had been baking inside in intense heat up to 1300 degrees for six days.
James Kasper is the patron of the International Pottery Symposium series, of which this event was the fourth, said it was not particularly about the work created but rather the connections made and also the collaborative effort.
“It’s never just been about the work but more about the friendships made, the collaborative effort of firing, the sharing of culture, the nature walks – if the firing works then that is a bonus.”
The three-week event was held at Corunna Farm at Mystery Bay, but the previous events were in Iowa, USA as well as a pottery village in France and also Japan.
There were some trials and tribulations, with a shelf collapsing inside the kiln, but this only impacted on a small portion of the work that developed a unique greenish coloured wood-ash glaze, probably due to the salt and iron content in the wood and sand sourced by the Mystery Bay area.
There was a lot to do for the artists while waiting for the kiln to cool after the final epic firing last Tuesday night that saw flames shooting out of all the openings as more and more wood was stuffed into the kiln.
This included more talks, swimming and fishing as well as the “Clay Olympics” that saw the teams compete in events like a clay slip slide and tug of war – for the record Team USA got gold, while Europe and Australia shared the silver and Asia got the bronze.
Collecting the gold for Team USA was Josh Copus from North Carolina, while Jean Francois Bourlard from France and Su Hanna from Bendigo, Australia collected the silver and Masaho Ono from Japan picked up the bronze for Asia.
The market day held on Sunday was also a big success with a steady flow of art appreciators and buyers filing through all morning.
The rest of the week will be spent cleaning up but in some great news the massive anagama kiln will remain at Corunna Farm after the owner of the bricks was compensated with another source of bricks.
In any case it would have been a crime against art to have dismantled the structure that now resembles a beautifully glazed cathedral on the inside.
The glaze on the bricks, like on the work fired, has a magnificent greenish hue caused by the iron and salt in the sand and timber used in the construction and firing.
The idea is that the kiln could be used again for another big firing at some point in the future.
The kiln over the last few days received a new coat of render to allow it to face up to the elements, while it had also been officially named as "Jaanda", which is the local Aboriginal word for whale.
The naming was assisted by local Yuin man Warren Foster, himself an artist, dance coordinator and didgeridoo player from the nearby Wallaga Lake Koori village.
Warren, who earlier took the artists on a tour up sacred Gulaga Mountain, visited the kiln and gave it its Yuin tribal name.
Resembling a roaring, fire breathing dragon during the firing, the kiln now silent and serene with its humped back resembles a whale and hence "Jaanda".
Coincidentally the internationals were treated to an unseasonal whale sighting and breaching off Mystery Bay earlier in the festival.
Festival organiser Daniel Lafferty and his partner Gabrielle Powell and all the hard-working helpers and caterers can now take a well-earned and much deserved rest.
Meanwhile life goes on at Corunna Farm with more visitors coming from far and wide for a yoga retreat next weekend.