During the month of April, One Arts is holding an exhibition which is being led by local artists who use the local natural environment for their inspiration. ‘Green behind the Gold’ is by three diverse artists who have come together to showcase the hidden art and craft in the beautiful Gold Coast hinterland. Claire Beck, a Raku ceramic artist, has pulled together her own works and those of fabric design artist Wendi Trulson and Binna Burra landscape artist Dave Groom to form the eclectic exhibit. We shot Claire some questions before the show.
I had never heard of Raku before reading the exhibition material. How did you discover it / become interested in it, and what is it about it that works so well for you?
Raku is an old Japanese ceramic art form connected to the tea ceremony which was adapted by the West in the mid 20th Century. Firing is done in a completely different way to normal ceramics. The glazed pieces are placed in a (usually) small gas kiln and brought up to around 1000 deg C in a very short time – my kiln take around 20 mins. The gas is then turned off, the kiln opened and the red hot pieces removed with long tongs and dropped into sealable bins filled with combustible material such as shredded paper, sawdust or dried grass. The bin is then sealed and the item ignites the material and removes all oxygen from the sealed bin. This reduction method gives the shimmering and often iridescent colours and the typical blacked unglazed areas common to most raku pieces.
I came to it in the course of my creative ceramic explorations and found that it perfectly suited firstly my lack of patience and secondly my love of creative spontaneity – no two pieces are ever the same and lucky surprises (and crushing disappointments) are the norm. I work from my studio at home at Lower Beechmont where I also run classes.
Is it mostly pots that you create or are there other pieces that you make utilising the raku style?
I am primarily a sculptor and only came to working on a wheel in the past couple of years. The exhibition has a number of my sculptural pieces and I have attached photos of a couple. I am also Treasurer of the Gold Coast Sculptor’s Society who will also be exhibiting at their Benowa Campus during the Games.
Tell us a bit about the ‘Green Behind the Gold’ concept.
The Beechmountain Plateau is a haven of creative people – the world famous Pricasso lives just around the corner from me, there are many alternative lifestylers and artists living in the area. This exhibition is showcasing the work of just three of us.
What is your relationship to the other artists and how did you all become involved?
Dave Groom has an open studio at his house on the way to Binna Burra and naturally I was interested and dropped in to see his work and fell in love with his wonderful landscapes which are all about the Lamington National Park environs which we all love. I first met Wendi – another Beechmont resident – at the annual Beechmont Art Exhibition held at the Headmasters Gallery and Café at Beechmont last year. Her beautiful and natural fabric designs fit beautifully with both Dave’s landscapes and the earthy tones of some of my raku pieces so when One Arts accepted me as an exhibitor during the Games I naturally thought of them as likely collaborators.
I imagine it’s exciting to be exhibiting during a huge event like the Games. How are you feeling about it?
Very nervous. This is an opportunity for me to see if I can forge a new late life career in the arts and gives all of us an opportunity to show Gold Coast visitors that the hinterland is a vibrant and creative place to explore while they are in town.
What kind of understanding do you hope that visitors will take away from the exhibition?
That there is more to the Gold Coast than sand and surf, world-class though they are. The hinterland and caldera region – this area was once part of the mighty Wollumbin (Mt Warning) volcanic plateau is a place of extraordinary natural beauty within a 45 minute drive of Gold Coast beaches and home to not just prolific wildlife and spectacular scenery but also to a number of creative people who are drawn to its wild untamed beauty.
What’s next on the agenda for you this year?
After a working life in the world of Advertising, Publishing and IT I am keen to develop my creative side and am now starting to work more towards entering ceramic competitions and developing my skills in creating new glazes for my work. I have been involved in a number of art forms – painting, printing, sculpture, wheel thrown and hand-built pottery. I am interested producing work that combines elements from all these techniques.
‘Green Behind the Gold’ runs from 6 – 16 April at One Arts Gallery in Isle of Capri. In addition there will be an Artyzan Fair at One Arts on Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 April, where you can see the exhibited works as well as local arts and crafts.
IMAGE: Open Forest Sunny Afternoon, by artist Dave Groom