In September 2011, a group of Irish ceramic artists will travel to the Chinese town of Fuping, Shaanxi, to make the foundation collection for the newly built Irish Pavilion at the Fule International Ceramic Art Museum. The Irish Pavilion will showcase the best of the new wave of ceramic art emerging from Ireland, marrying the ancient techniques of the East to our own cultural traditions. It is a permanent exhibition space created to house the work of those ceramic artists whose subtlety, skill and vision captures the spirit of contemporary Ireland. Eleanor Flegg, writer, and Andrew Standen Raz, film maker and photographer, will travel with the group to document the residency. The Irish Pavilion opens on the 4th October 2011.
The blog is written by Eleanor Flegg, whose opinions may not necessarily reflect those of the group.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The morning bell and the evening drum

Over a few short days a city that first seemed impenetrably dusty and hectic has become a magical place. Last night Joanne, who is from Xian, took us to where a group of people meet for choir practise under the city walls. The sound echoing off the barrel vault and the park outside clustered with people singing Chinese opera or dancing. Mostly retired people, all of them having fun in the dank sweaty park. They were back in the morning, a dawn chorus of jangly song amid the traffic noise.
Yesterday too, the Terracotta Army. An army of ghost soldiers made by slaves in service to an long-ago emperor with plans for the afterlife. Now reassembled into haunting ranks after 2,000 years underground. Can clay soldiers have souls?

The clone army

Monday, August 29, 2011

Silk roads and pigs feet

Arrived in Xi'an, the legendary start of the silk road and, according to a local billboard, National Sanitary City. By what stretch of the imagination we're not quite sure. The whole place is shrouded in dust. Broken pavements between designer outlets and acres of skyscrapers under construction. A short cycle of growth and decay. Food continues to bring the unexpected. With a strong vegetarian minority among the group, its hard to know what you're ordering. The eager expectation of spuds was disappointed by 'sweet pettitoes', which proved to be the trotters of very small pigs.

Shanghai resident enjoys a cooling breeze

Sunday, August 28, 2011

hot chicks in Shanghai


Shanghai! Electric candy-land with skyscrapers lit up like a fairground and also Gotham City looming out of the smoky smog. There's a narrow margin between glitzy buildings and small pungent back streets.The roads are nuts. People drive on the left and the right, but mostly on the right, and traffic lights mean something unusual in terms of stop and go. Scooters use the bike lane in both directions. All sorts of fun. After a day of museums and tea and potteries, ceramics new and very, very old, of Muslim food and esoteric visions, of culture and disorientation, its time to turn in. Ten of us here, others in Beijing and all of us in transit. Xi'an tomorrow. 
Some bamboo firewall issues persist. We're working on it (it sounds so flammable....)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The skies are full of potters

Finally it's flying day! It's hard to credit the amount of administration that brought us to this moment. Sixteen lives have been wrapped up and put on hold. Sixteen families persuaded to manage without someone for six weeks. Sixteen incomes suspended. Sixteen tickets bought, bags packed, visas stamped. Next stop China!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

I don't really hate craft

I took some antihistamines and the allergic reaction to craft objects calmed down. I think it was just nerves and exhaustion. And the shock of finding that Bernard Leach has godlike status in japanese museums. Which is truly shocking. Good news - Andrew (our talented filmmaker) has made a recent film that just got selected to be shown at the ACF in NY and Washington DC, and shown at the Montreal Festival du Nouveau Cinema in October! Fame and fortune awaits us all.

Sent from my iPhone

Stone guy in some sort of trouble


Three days to Shanghai and such cold feet! Just sent off almost-completed PhD (history of craft) and I feckin' hate craft. All craft. Everywhere. Damn craft! Went to the Kyoto museum of modern art today and found (horrors) a pot by Bernard Leach on fourth floor. Allergic reaction. Had to be taken to a cool and quiet place to recover. Trouble is, am contracted as chronicler of 14 ceramists for a month in the middle of Chinese nowhere. Bloody hell! Nothing against these lovely folks but how to handle sudden aversion to all aspects of the applied arts?

Monday, August 15, 2011

The countdown

Excitement is mounting as preparations for the China adventure gather momentum. Tickets - check. Chinese visas - check. Sixteen people is a big group to coordinate and with some folks flying into Beijing and others into Shanghai it's already getting complicated. I left Ireland already and am blogging from Japan - emails flying around the world in all directions as we make arrangements to meet up in Xi'an at the end of the month. It's taken a monumental effort to get this far - all those months of planning - and the fun part is just around the corner. What an opportunity this is for all of us! The thing at the back of my mind is - can I do it justice? But I'm sure I'm not alone in this...

Pilot frog