Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Meet Your Maker: Petrus Spronk

Petrus, your ceramic works have been shown both around Australia and overseas. Do you see ceramics as an international art form?

From our Australian point of view this is probably the case but in other cultures, which are also part of this international space, this may be viewed differently. While in Korea for an art residency some years ago, ceramics seemed one of the revered expressions of that culture, and was not necessarily seen as an international art from. I don't know if it was an art, craft, or any other expression of human activity. While in turkey ceramics was not an art form, but a way of making an income and so on.

Why did you choose ceramics as the tool for your self-expression?

The main motivation in my work and life is: the love for making beautiful things with my hands.

During my time at art school I had to make a choice between 2 and 3 dimensional work. 3D always suited me better; felt right for me. As a child I always made things rather than making drawings of things. This continued into making my house, my work in the studio and many other activities which involved my hands.

You have produced big public art works in Melbourne and Daylesford, but your upcoming solo show ‘Black Moon-Light’ looks at the ceramic journey of the bowl. Is there a higher level of intimacy when making smaller works?

The public art commissions are just great and very occasional gigs. The work in my studio is my soul work and is a continual journey of the bowl which has been going on since 1975 when an American Indian Medicine man pointed at the setting (first) moon and told me we call that the receiver. Somehow this clicked.

It has been, and continues to be, a great and wonderful journey which has taken me both around my outer and inner world, and inspired wonderful adventures for both the body and the spirit.

The public works always involve many other people and forces while the work in the studio is an expression of my own private creative spirit, which is as stated before, a solitary activity; a bit like writing poetry.

As an artist what excites you about your solo show, and working in collaboration with Teresa Poletti Glover in 'The quietness of clay, the stillness of wool; a meditation'?

Each solo show is like an examination for the student of (in my case) ceramics. I am testing myself and I am being tested by the reaction of the audience. It is the result of a period of quiet, intense and meditative activity, the outcome of which I share with anyone interested.

The collaboration with Teresa was exciting because it created another approach to my work in clay. It allowed me to once again play (making stuff without the expectation of an outcome) with the material, which was a refreshing experience.

On August 6 you will present a floor talk at Stockroom. What can the audience expect from the event?

A series of stories of those experiences which have shaped my work, from my eight year hitchhiking journey around the world, to my wonderful residencies in Korea, to my experiences in my studio; interesting anecdotes. My floor talk aims to inspire, hopefully creates a high for the audience and will not bore them with information about irrelevant technical stuff.

Your work is also showing at the prestigious National Gallery of Victoria, and later this year at the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery! How does it feel to have such a successful year? What have you learnt from it?

A selection of my work will show in both places, this is a wonderful experience and a bit like a cherry on my ceramic activities cake. I have not necessarily learnt anything from it. I just am grateful for all I receive.

How important are art spaces like Stockroom for the art community?

I can't speak for the art community, but personally I feel any space dedicate to the Arts is a winner. If we look at the space which is given to any other expression of human endeavor, such as sport, we have a long way to go. Places such as Stockroom are making an incredible contribution.

And (with the year you’re having) will you remember us when you are rich and famous?

The concept of 'rich and famous' has nothing to do with my art work, which is a solitary activity in most cases. I have always been rich, because 'rich' is a state of mind, and in my case, I have been rich all of my life because I have been able to do what it was I needed to do.

Part of being rich for me was figuring out the difference between my wants and needs very early on in the piece as a result I have not had to work that much, which gave me a great deal of freedom and I learned how to deal with that so that it became beneficial.

As far as 'famous' is concerned, that is an aspect in other people’s minds, and has nothing to do with me. However, if it had, I would be careful not to let it go to my head, because if that stuff (success) goes to your head it would leave your heart, and that would be disastrous.

'Black Moon-Light' & 'The quietness of clay, the stillness of wool; a meditation' will show at Stockroom July 16 - August 14.