Shirley Clifford

Shigaraki Jar #1

2010 — Paperclay stoneware, 18.5" ht x 15" w x 15" d : $650.00

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Shigaraki Jar #2

2010 — Paperclay stoneware, 18" ht x 15" w x 15" d : $650.00

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Shigaraki Jar #3

2008 — Paperclay stoneware, 16" ht x 14" w x 14" d : $750.00

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Vessel-making as an art form has intrigued me for thirty years. My response to the simplicity of clay is sensual and immediate because it has such a powerful tactile drawing force - mystical/spiritual. Dundas Valley School of Art and Haliburton Summer School of Arts gave me a glimpse of the possible. Five years studying at OCAD gave me an entrance into the wider ceramic world. My sojourn in Japan 2003 as artist-in-residence confirmed my oriental aesthetics, especially my love for Shino and Celadon ware. My intellectual response to the complexities of ceramic art is a slower, thoughtful, ongoing struggle which is only intermittently resolved. I feel the Raku process extremely exciting and dangerous, fraught with enticing possibilities for immediate failure. Working with the vessels while the glaze is red-hot (1850 degrees F) and molten can be entirely challenging and seducing. Similarly, the live flame in the High-fire Reduction process also gives that element of working with the full force of fire on clay. Currently the ultimate for me, is Firing with Wood for 22-24 hours. Every five minutes, four to six long sticks of wood must be fed into the fire, the build-up of ash in the fire-box must be carefully manipulated, decisions whether to throw in salt or not must be made. The pots can't help but absorb all this passion and fellowship as we work in shifts together, sharing and collaging our individual clay experiences to this point. The sum is greater than the parts.

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