Photos and reporting by Robert Kokenyesi, Ceramic Artist, Beachfront Pottery, Godfrey, IL, 62035, USA. If you enjoyed this post, then give me a “like” on my Facebook page. There is additional information about Beachfront Pottery on my web site.
Several years ago I made pieces in the “Unsheltered” series. The “unsheltered” meant that ocean critters, like sharks, and whales are losing their sacred status. That sacred status for many animals appears in the Dreaming of Aborigine people. Once the Dreamer drew the dream in the soil, then the object of the dream, the sacred entity, had to be protected. The Aborigine Dreamer protected, sheltered, the sacred animal by poking the image in the sand with sticks until it became unrecognizable.
The “Unsheltered” series explored the dual nature of sharks: on one hand they are the most feared top predators in the ocean, but on the other hand they are vulnerable to environmental changes, and to the fishing methods of man.
The Effort and the Resulting Piece
Each piece of paper corresponds to a “shark droplet” unit. The droplets are assembled into a possible form on my living room floor.
Here you see the bisque version of “shark droplets”. The droplets are flat pieces of clay cut into a curved droplet shape. The droplets are assembled again to ensure enough overlap for a sturdy connections for the time the glazed pieces would be “glued” together by the overlapping glazed areas.
The “shark droplets” are glazed with a shark pattern. This is the color of the dried, but yet unfired glaze. Next to the assembled droplets you see unfired glazed clay pearls.
This is the result of glaze firing where the individual droplets are now glued and held together by the overlapping glazed areas serving as glue.
This is the completed piece. A white sheet of glass was placed over the piece, and the glass firing slumped the glass onto the glazed surfaces. The slumped glass sticks to the pottery glazed surface, and during the cooling the glass sheet crackles. The crackles were enhanced by rubbing a red oil paint onto the glass. The entire piece was mounted onto canvas panel. The framed piece was 24X28 inches in size. The crackled glass represents the stressed fabric of the sacred space.
This is the close-up of the glass-covered area of the piece. The sacred sharks were originally protected by the pearls (similar to the stick marks of the Aborigines). Persecution of sharks by careless fisherman, and by an uneducated and biased public endangered the sharks, and, as a consequence, they are on the move to seek better protection.