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.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Black clay day

Day three of the residency began with a disappointment. The brick and tile factory through which the clay is sourced makes black tiles, and more than half the makers were looking forward to working in black clay. Yesterday, they were assured that it would be delivered. Today, they were told that it was unavailable. Black clay is used in the factory periodically, but it would take two weeks to strip down the machines and change the clay – not to mention the disruption to production. So a number of makers had to rethink their plans. This was another lesson in cultural communications: when our helpful translators are asked if something is possible they will often say yes first, and then go and find out if it really is possible – a slow process fraught with many levels of rank. The translators – high heels, mobile phones – have little in common with the factory workers whose work is intensely physical and who have no interest in being disturbed on their tea-break to satisfy artists' whims.

Another discovery -  the Museum of Irish Ceramic Art in China hasn't actually been built yet (somehow we travelled over with the idea of a spanking new museum eagerly awaiting Irish work). The main hotel will shortly be demolished, along with the Scandinavian Museum and the Eastern European Museum, to make room for a bigger, better hotel and museum complex, where the Irish collection will ultimately be housed. In the meantime it will go into the Visitors' Centre, currently a craft shop selling kitsch Chinese ceramics and ice-lollies, but about to be transformed into a promising exhibition space.

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