i met Josh Copus, the founder of clayspace in Tasmania, at the woodfire conference. we took part in the woodfire competition, josh building the kiln and me being the chef cooking using the fire of the kiln. our team won the most number of wine bottles as prize!
“if u ever want to come to the States and work u know where to come”josh told me, in josh copus style. so it happened. josh had just started a international visiting artist program this year, and i came as the first visiting artist.
over a couple email exchanges, we decided the residency would be for three months. i like being in a place for some time, get used to the place, get into a routine of work, make friends, feel like part of where you live- all this is very important for me to produce work. and the kind of work I am doing now, all chunky robust pieces of work, which need slow drying, so a longer residency worked perfect for me.
the first day into Asheville, was the introduction to my first baseball game, and at least ten friends of josh- everyone knew my name, it felt like josh had already told half of Asheville about my arrival (well, josh knows almost 90% of the people in Asheville!).
clayspace is in the heart of the river arts district, a whole street full of artist studios. the studio is big, with a gallery in the front and five artists sharing the studio space. josh is a dreamer, a true visionary, super friendly and full of clay dreams and ambitions. he is already dreaming of a larger work space with more artists working in it. his woodfiring kilns at madison, which is half hour drive from asheville really proves how crazy he is, good crazy, as he calls it. i agree.
first couple of days i took time to get used to the place, meet people, remember all those new names (have my first beer at the wedge brewery, first tacos, first plate of tender ribs with corn and cheese grits on the side). the second week i used clay, which josh calls as pipe clay, which he digs out locally from a farmer's field. later in the week josh decided to make more clay. he had some porcelain clay already, to which he had added sand. "too sandy" he said, so we went out to Marshall, to Alex Matisse 's studio and collected some white clay with lots of grog and rocks in it and mixed it with the already existing sandy white clay. we worked on the pug-mill, my first experience of a pug-mill, (mostly josh working on the machine and me cutting the clay into slabs and sausages and packing them into the red truck) we had clay hump as tall as us by the end of two full days.
since then i have been spending most of my days, listening to loud music in the studio (getting education about rap music by josh, thats the true cultural exchange program he says) and working and i can see am slowly encroaching more space than am given...
we will be firing , first the three chambered kiln at end of july and later the first week of august, the anagama kiln. there is a new body of work which am totally excited about, and will post the photos once they are fired..