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isiiad - Alistair Whyte

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Alistair Whyte

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I mentioned in the Tim Peel blog that the Yarra Valley Open Studio Program inspired the birth of Isiiad.  It was Alistair Whyte's work that drew me to explore that program in the first instance, nearly two years ago.  I heard about him through a colleague at my previous workplace. She dropped the Open Studio's booklet on my desk and that was it, I was hooked.  I made a bee-line for Alistair's studio the first year of the program. A year or so later Isiiad was born...the rest is history really.  

I love the Japanese influence in his work.  He studied ceramics at the University of Art in Kyoto for five years. He worked there with a master potter. He learnt oriental techniques, old Imperial Chinese porcelain techniques, all of which were tool related. His white porcelain bowls and vases with blue Japanese motifs are lovely to behold.

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I recently photographed one of his completed poem bowls at the Artist's Lounge in Healesville.  There are more of them dotted around his studio in various stages of completion.  He can't keep up with the demand.  He used the poem of another local, Jennie Gordon, in the bowl above.  I thought the poem was so lovely that you might also enjoy reading it in its entirety.

Love's house

love can not

live alone

can not cut down

to cook for one

 

she walks the halls

making beds

to dare the dreams

of drowsy heads

 

she tends the garden

plants the herbs

to flavour life

with more than words

 

she washes windows

sweeps the floor

and never locks 

the welcome door

 

she waits within,

between, behind

she watches, weeps

and breathes her mind 

 

she lets herself be

guest and host

and lives for those

who seek her most

 

dispels the dark

of presence lost

sent from the one

who paid the cost

 

love can not

live alone

she dwells in us

she is our home

           Jennie Gordon © 2008

 

What a wonderful concept to capture it for all time in clay.  What a perfect gift for a loved one.  How it would enhance a meal used as a serving bowl, filled with pasta and covered in a great big hearty sauce, all shared with a big crowd of people you love...but I digress.

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Some of the poems are about pottery (above) and others are from Winnie the Poo (below).  The possibilities are endless.

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Alistair borrowed these beautiful old printers letters from the local Warburton Printer, an appropriate tool for pressing the letters into the bowls.  Apparently they were passed down from the printer's Grandfather who had a printing press in Glenrowan at the time Ned Kelly was making his name for our history books.  It's not too much of a stretch therefore to wonder if they were the self same letters used by the printer to make the wanted posters for dear old Ned!

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His work is quite diverse, responding to commissions and trying out new ideas. As a man very devoted to his family, he has immortalised the faces of his four beloved daughters in these masks, just because he loves them.  

But I couldn't help myself in his studio, I kept searching out his blue and white porcelain, Japanese inspired work... I love it like a fat kid loves cake.

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You could also have the pleasure of meeting Alistair at his studio and whetting your appetite for exquisite ceramics, handmade by a master, during the Yarra Valley Open Studio Program in September. Don't forget to ask him about his Vanuatu project...he really is a true humanitarian. I intend to show the work of his friend and colleague, painter Malcolm Peel next.  I recommend a visit to Malcolm as well, while you're in the area.

For additional information about Alistair go to his website.


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