Sandra Bowkett ✿ Twig vessels


27 May 2021

Sandra Bowkett, Twig vessel, 2021

Sandra Bowkett has made vessels for gathering not only elegant twigs but also the mark of the maker.

“Vase”. The word looks good but sounds sharp. There is not an elegant sound to this word evocative of an object made to hold something of interest and or beauty. I choose to use the word vessel when describing a form made to hold flora. There is also then permission to use this vessel for other holding functions.

These vessels are made from Bennetts stoneware clay left from making a series of larger objects. Magill Bennetts Potteries established in 1887 is a fifth-generation privately owned South Australian manufacturing and clay supply company. I believe it is the only commercial supply of clay that is a single source. It comes from the nearby Golden Grove quarry.

At the beginning of 2021, I pledged to self with every making cycle to make a small series of new ideas/forms with no serious intent. This twig series was from the first making cycle of 2021. I made tall loosely thrown vessels to be unglazed, I was interested to see how the wood ash would paint this clay when the forms were placed in high heat and fly ash locations in the kiln, in this case on the bag wall. The bag wall is the wall of bricks adjacent to the firebox that deflects the flames up to the kiln ceiling to be then drawn down through the kiln to exit through the floor flues to the chimney.

This was a break out time and my thoughts had been on “maker unknown”. This attribution is often seen on museum exhibit details of crafted objects has troubled me, why did the collector not take the trouble to find and take note of the makers name,  but as Manohar Lal responded with a question when asked why he does not sign his work, “Wouldn’t you know your own children?”

I dipped my fingers in white slip and held the base of each vessel. The fingerprints identify the maker, as with any handmade object. This, however, was a more overt action. I had anticipated the fingerprints would contrast with what would be a dark body after firing.

2020 was a good year for vigorous mistletoe growth, many clumps hanging gloriously from their hosts. 2020 was also a year of finding fallen skeletal clusters, hosts dying over the preceding dryer years. They have a distinctive structure: a change in angle is noted with an elbow, becoming finer as the segments move from the anchor. I find this random but defined structure appealing.

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