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Diana Williams artwork in China

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Diana Williams artwork in China

Postby Diana Williams » Mon Nov 01, 2010 7:49 pm

Dear Members, Just responding to comments made about me that appeared on the forum on Sun. 24 October which I am not able to find.
I am bemused and confused by Marci’s comment, “apparently she doesn’t make this stuff” and the statement that I have a “factory in China making my things”.
The article referred to in the China Daily was not totally accurate. The interview took over half hour and “selected” quotes have been used by the journalist. I and other artists have worked long and hard to achieve our reputations and I am disappointed about the comments made without knowing the true facts. If any members are interested in Jingdezhen, my work and the Galleries and Studios known as “The Sculpture Factory” feel free to email me. I will help if I can to clarify the process of making an original artwork in a studio in this historical city. Thank-you for the kind opinions about my work. Best wishes, Diana
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Re: Diana Williams artwork in China

Postby lindamccaleb1 » Mon Nov 01, 2010 10:12 pm

I agree that people who "don't know the subject thouroughly" shouln't speak, if publishing it as a fact!
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Re: Diana Williams artwork in China

Postby marcib » Tue Nov 02, 2010 1:58 pm

Dear Linda,
I cant paste the entire deal here right now because it is on my computer at home but as soon as I get back , I will ...Anyway , it has been posted on the list so I hope you had a chance to go back and read it there.
I dont know who youre referring to in your comment, but if youre referring to me, I was stating my thoughts after reading an article about Diana and a factory in Jingdezhen quoting her . The distinct impression I got from reading her quotes was that she has the craftsmen there make the work and she tells them what she wants.
On PPIO, I posted the URL of the article and the quotes from the article that gave me that impression .( Ill repost that here as soon as I am back home and can pull up my email to the list)
I did not write the article. I merely commented on it.
If Diane thinks her reputation is being impugned , then perhaps she needs to address that with the author of the original article who quoted her. As I was not there, I dont know what was said or not said or what was misquoted or misrepresented.
I merely found an article about her and commented on what I read...( and again, you are welcome to go back to yesterdays digest and read my comments about this to the list which include my original comments and you can decide for yourself how badly I misjudged the words that were quoted.
i reread the article multiple times trying to see if I could have misread it... and I still come to the same impression every time.... so again , if the article gives the wrong impression about her work and what is happening in China, then she needs to take that up with the author of that article.
I welcome her clarification about her process...
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Re: Diana Williams artwork in China

Postby marcib » Tue Nov 02, 2010 2:20 pm

Ok .. I found the article.. but again once I get home, Ill post the entire thread starting from Toni's original sending of the wrong URL for Diana's website, which is what started me googling in the first place.
I am bolding the quotes from Diana in the article that gave me the impression that she is telling the craftsmen there what to do to make the work . I dont doubt that she paints them herself ..but the absolute impression I got from the quotes in the article are that the craftsmen make the forms and do the carvings....and my comments were basically questioning why china painters are so poo-pooed for painting on forms they dont make .

http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2009-10/27/content_8856533.htm

China's ancient porcelain capital attracts new blood


Updated: 2009-10-27 14:43


NANCHANG: With a posh house on the bank of the West Lake, one of China's most beautiful scenic spots in east city Hangzhou, Teng Ting, a ceramic artist, chose to live in a bathroom-turned bedroom nearly 400 km away from home in southern city Jingdezhen.

"It is all worth it since only in Jingdezhen can I fulfill my dream," said the long-haired artist, who came to the city, China's porcelain capital, five years ago.

Jingdezhen, a city in China's Jiangxi Province, has a history of producing quality pottery for 1700 years. But in recent years it is eclipsed by other porcelain-producing cities, like Foshan and Chaozhou in south China's Guangdong Province, which catch up quickly through mass production.

"To study ceramics, Jingdezhen is the place, since it represents the top level of world porcelain art," Teng said.

The view is shared by Diana Williams, an Australian ceramic artist who also came to Jingdezhen five years ago. "This is Mecca for ceramic artists," she said, with her eyes sparkling.

"There are so many great artists and skillful craftsmen here. And the supporting services are excellent," she said.

"If you are a ceramic artist, full of dreams and ideas, but just can't turn them into ideal ceramics, then you need to come here," said the 52-year-old Australian artist.


Teng has been retreated into his studio for five years to create a new type of paints that can be put directly on porcelain. Teng named the new paints Nizhongcai, literally translated as "color in the mud".

Creating ceramics with perfect color requires sophisticated skills since ceramic color could change after being glazed and burned in kiln. Teng's Nizhongcai, if proved successful, will make ceramic coloring much easier and further free ceramic artists.

Unlike Teng who chose to work alone, Diana works with local artists. She got a studio for free from Liu Yuanchang, a renowned Chinese artist in arts and crafts.

Diana works in her studio six months every year. She has bought a house in the city last year.

Pointing at a nearby craftsman who was carving porcelain, Diana said "whatever my idea is, he can always make ceramics exactly as I want. I have tons of ideas, but I couldn't create ceramics all by myself."
"I learn the unique ceramic crafts from local artists and they are also inspired by my western style," she said.

Jingdezhen has many studios for rent which also provides in-house craftsmen, accommodation and interpretation services. Liu Yuanchang's workshop, the Pottery Workshop and Sanbao Ceramic Art Institute are the most famous ones.

"More than 1,000 foreign artists had stayed in my workshop," said Zheng Yi who set up the Pottery Workshop in Jingdezhen in 2005.

"In Jingdezhen, I can get technical help and historical influence," said Josefine Fina Holmqvist, a Swedish ceramic artist who came to Jingdezhen on October 5 and plans to stay for three more weeks.

"I wanted to make decals before coming to Jingdezhen, and now I have a new idea, that is, to stick broken porcelain pieces onto a mirror and use porcelain as frames," she said.

Local artists believed that the growing number of foreign artists in Jingdezhen could bring more vitality to the ancient city.

"Jingdezhen has long been a diversified city and has always been open to artists. Ninety thousand craftsmen worked here in the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644). Jingdezhen can not be what it is today without the advanced techniques brought by craftsmen far and near," Liu Yuanchang said.

Building Jingdezhen into a global innovation center is the commitment made by Jingdezhen Municipal Government at the 2009 Jingdezhen International Ceramic Fair on October 18 to 22.

"We plan to invest 5 billion yuan ($732 million) in six years into the project," said Li Fang, mayor of Jingdezhen City.

"Old kilns and workshops renovation is also on the agenda," Li said.

"I am not sure how long it (to build Jingdezhen into a innovation center) will take, maybe five years, maybe 10," Diana said. "But I know for sure that it is the right direction," she said.

******** End of article
So, again , I have reread this article and there is STILL nothing in those quotes (especially the underlined bolded one) that makes me think the article isnt suggesting ( using Diana's own words) that she directs craftsmen and they are the ones who are making the forms and doing the carvings.
I stated my impression from this article....
If the article is off base, then the author of the article is the one who needs to be called on the carpet for it....

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Re: Diana Williams artwork in China

Postby Diana Williams » Tue Nov 02, 2010 6:13 pm

I understand that you feel you have been misguided Marci, but you are missing the point on a few issues.
The first is that, to interpret this statement by the writer for yourself is one thing, but then, to put it out there for others to read as fact is a different matter whether you were misguided or not.
The second is, at no point did this writer or I specify the craftsman was carving for me. The writer was indicating what is possible. Nor did I or the writer say a factory was making my work just because I work with local artists.
The third is, the tone of your message in which you have decided to use undermines the credibility of me as an artist and my artwork. Your quotes, “Also, apparently, she doesn’t make this stuff” and “It is interesting that we have people looking down our noses at what we do because we don’t make our own pieces yet she is accepted even though she has a factory in China making her things”.
For those who don’t clearly understand the process of what constitutes a work of art, your statements can encourage some of your members to believe I am not really an artist because I have my work made for me.
Whether I make the forms or do all the work is irrelevant and I will explain why in another fairly lengthy letter to all members shortly.
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Re: Diana Williams artwork in China

Postby marcib » Tue Nov 02, 2010 11:16 pm

Diana Williams wrote:I understand that you feel you have been misguided Marci, but you are missing the point on a few issues.


What point am I missing?

The first is that, to interpret this statement by the writer for yourself is one thing, but then, to put it out there for others to read as fact is a different matter whether you were misguided or not.

It was not put out there as a statement of fact. I was expressing my opinion ...and the last time I looked, that was still allowed in the US. You also have full access to the floor to express your opinion as well.


The second is, at no point did this writer or I specify the craftsman was carving for me. The writer was indicating what is possible. Nor did I or the writer say a factory was making my work just because I work with local artists.

Well then, I await your explanation of what you mean by:"Diana said "whatever my idea is, he can always make ceramics exactly as I want. I have tons of ideas, but I couldn't create ceramics all by myself." ...because " he can always makes ceramics exactly as I want " and " I have tons of ideas but I couldnt create ceramics all by my self" sure doesnt sound like someone working on their own in a studio making every bit of their work , including forms and carving. You may do every step of the process ...you might even make your own clay body ...but that was clearly NOT the impression the article gave.

The third is, the tone of your message in which you have decided to use undermines the credibility of me as an artist and my artwork. Your quotes, “Also, apparently, she doesn’t make this stuff” and “It is interesting that we have people looking down our noses at what we do because we don’t make our own pieces yet she is accepted even though she has a factory in China making her things”.

Again, maybe that s an issue you need to take up with the person who wrote the article if you were totally misquoted in it and didnt say the things they have quoted you as saying. From my reading of your words as printed, I get the sense of an artist who is designing pieces but having craftsmen do the forms....Your quotes in the article give me no reason to think otherwise.Maybe the words in the article should have been better chosen?

For those who don’t clearly understand the process of what constitutes a work of art, your statements can encourage some of your members to believe I am not really an artist because I have my work made for me.
Since I am clearly totally ignorant of the process of what constitutes a work of art , please enlighten me.
Whether I make the forms or do all the work is irrelevant
Uh, no.. it is not irrelevant. It is totally the entire crux of this conversation AND the conversation on the list ...
and I will explain why in another fairly lengthy letter to all members shortly.
I await your explanation ...
Diana
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Re: Diana Williams artwork in China

Postby eganj1 » Wed Nov 03, 2010 4:54 am

There aren't many china painters out there making their own pieces, i don't have a problem with that. even tho' I would like to make my own pieces. But don't have time or a place to do it. I can't see anything wrong with having pieces made to my own specification (if i could afford to), at least i could get the size and shape i wanted.

I now have a new line when people say "oh you don't make the bowls yourself". I tell them that it is the traditon that the painter is not the potter, it has always been done that way in the Potteries in Stoke on Trent, and sadly we have lost that part of our heratige and I'm one of the few people in the UK today keeping the hand painted tradition alive. They usually look quite impressed with my statement.

In City & Guilds training you are taught to make "working drawings" so when your business as a designer maker takes off you can't outsource, you give the instructions to someone else to do that part of the process for you. When I become an international superstar I'll have to do this ;roflmao: ;roflmao: ;roflmao: (Joke for those who aren't on the ball)
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Re: Diana Williams artwork in China

Postby Christine Bennetts » Wed Nov 03, 2010 6:12 am

I'm trying desperately to think of ONE "china painter" in UK who makes their own pieces now. Are there any? Seriously......are there any?

I know a couple of the potters in my club talked about it but it was not commercially viable due to the recession. Irene Faulder - Lady Chardonnay - has a special project she is trying to get an unusual shape MADE for - and jeeeeeezzzzzzooooo.......it is like pulling teeth.

The thought of actually getting my paws dirty MAKING the stuff horrifies me! ;overreact; ...................BUT.................the thought of having elves of ANY nationality make an exact shape I designed has me drooling. OFF to the naughty corner for dribbling all over the computer!
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Re: Diana Williams artwork in China

Postby wild plum gallery » Wed Nov 03, 2010 7:59 am

To keep this all in the same thread, I am copying and paste a followup response from Diana. Marci or someone else who knows how can do a better job of combining the two topics if they feel inclined to do so.
quote:
by Diana Williams » Wed Nov 03, 2010 12:29 am
The “Sculpture Factory” is not a factory as such; it is a huge complex with many studios, workshops, galleries and is a historical tourist destination especially for all artists and porcelain enthusiasts. At the time of the interview, the complex was hoping to have a lot of money injected into it by the government. The interview information would be relayed back to the government and the artists’, who were interviewed, deservedly gave it a great revue of what was available.

Jing De Zhen offers many things to discover from amazing historical sites to opportunities for artists to produce their own individual artworks. If needed, a supporting service is available to them on their journey to produce anything from simple forms to massive constructions. Some skills available to them, if they choose to use them, can range from traditional Chinese painting to structurally difficult or expensive art projects in porcelain and other materials. Production lines like dinnerware or repetition work of the same design etc. are usually made in a factory but not in this area usually. Here you can employ craftsmen and work together with them or if you feel they can copy your work successfully allow someone to manage copies of your initial design and work.

Thankfully, the Great Sculpting Master of China, Professor Liu Yuan Chang, took me under his wing after we met in 2004. I went there as a porcelain painter with a desire to see and learn more. On occasions, I work in collaboration with the Professor and I am offered to choose specific pieces of his work to paint on for collaborative exhibitions. I choose to paint what I believe fits in with his idea and his form. He has offered me to be his permanent resident artist because he has found me to be driven by what I really love, which is porcelain and art. He allows me to produce my artwork in his studio. I have been studying under him for nearly 7 yrs and I am extremely grateful to him.

I am not a potter and don’t have time to study this also. At times I have turned plaster forms and made moulds from these with assistance. Due to the fact I am only there for 3 month blocks twice a year, to speed up the process, I will employ assistants to help me achieve my end result. This involves potting, carrying and making huge plaster moulds which often requires up to 4 men lifting them while pouring to do slip casting. I will at times slip cast some of my smaller works. You would be hard pressed finding anyone in the world who can press mould a huge or small work like some of these Chinese craftsmen. I need absolute precision when it comes to some of my work. Even then, many break under the pressure of firing and weight of the clay. Many times I can lose 50 to 100% of my work after long hours of working on them. Not to mention the costs. Obviously I opt not to press mould such works.

I will glaze many of my works but spraying a glaze is not what I want to spend my time on. At this point, I don’t want to make my glaze either. I prefer to focus on my design, sculpt, paint and carve. I love the hands on experience, that’s why I am there. At times I make paper clay for my sculptures, slip cast and experiment. I can, if I choose, have part of or all of my work done for me. I often work long hours totally alone in my studio for days or weeks on end, 7 days a week, often from 5am to late. The local and international artists who know me and who have lived there can verify what I do. I often have to be coerced to come out of my studio to eat, rest and go to enjoy life outside the studio.The opportunity to be an artist I can guarantee most times can be a very lonely journey.

I agree that I could not produce some of these large or some technically complicated forms by myself due to lack of expertise in certain areas and on occasions require assistance. It is often an experimental process for us all. But, the craftsmen could also not complete these works without my design and input and me pushing them to their utmost and often out of their limits. They often say to me, “it’s impossible”, but they have learnt, I never give up. I am using their hands at times to help me make what I see.

On occasion, I have had assistance on some of my work in regards to carving, I do my drawings direct onto the green-ware and start carving my design. When it is in order, I move to another section of that piece. My assistant will work on the previous section I have worked and carve away bulk areas of clay which I specify. I continue to work on the other side. Later I come back to the sections my assistant has worked on and continue to carve the final levels and details the way I envisage it. Many times I will make changes to my work midway through the process to improve my original idea or I will correct my assistant’s mistakes. He is not capable of this.

With my personal artwork my assistant does not hold in his head what I see, and I can’t expect this of him. Without my total direction he will get lost. He is a craftsman used to traditional copied images which they repeat time and time again for other companies. This is how they survive. I highly respect him as a friend and as a good craftsman. I have thankfully learnt a lot from him in many aspects, but he in turn has been very grateful to have learnt from me. He has had the opportunity to learn how to be more creative under my direction and has added to his skills. He and another one of my assistants, who are like sons to me, now have their own successful companies offering to buyers a range of their own individual artworks, which they have learnt to design and create.

While I was learning traditional under-glaze painting techniques, I required an assistant to paint over my drawing and to make sure the final result was accurate technically. The complexity of Chinese under-glaze painting requires many years to perfect just like on-glaze painting. It was a traditional design which the painter clearly understood. I had the skill of painting but not in this difficult medium at that point. I also directed this work including removing small additions he made to the painting when I left the room. The Australian War Memorial curators fully understood the process of this work when they purchased these pieces as my artwork. Amongst other things they were interested in my concept and the meaning behind my work.

I made a statement once early in my time in China to Professor Liu, “I am used to doing everything myself when I paint. Is it still my artwork when I have assistance with my work”? He and others in the art world agree, “The work would and could not exist without you and your inspiration and sometimes technical assistance is required in some shape or form in order to give you the end result”. “It would take you a lifetime to learn and know all of the technical aspects of all the mediums you and some artists want to use.” “If you choose not to use assistance when you require it, your work will never exist”. “Even if you chose to have all or only some of your work made to your design and instruction, either way, you are the artist.”

Do artists’ restrict themselves sometimes to one method or medium to prove they are an artist because they can do it all themselves? If they want to be purists’ then maybe they should start producing their brushes and paper, manufacture the plaster for moulds and produce everything necessary to achieve the final result. Because of time constraints I opt not to make my mediums or process ingredients for my colours or glazes. Should I learn to be a potter or a jeweller before I decide on an artwork? How far should we take this?

I finally realized and came to this conclusion. You have to have the internal vision, dedication and feelings about what you are doing to produce real art. Technical skill is also a big part of art as a whole. One needs the other, Art and Craft. An artist needs to do what it takes to get the artwork out there and if you choose to use some technical skills of others at any point, you are still combining the two ingredients, Art and Craft. I chose to use a form designed to my requirements and symbolically decorate my work to help me tell my story. I will do what it takes to complete my vision. If I have to direct part or all of the work through its process to get my meaning across, then so be it. Doing this work on a commercialised plate or vase etc. would never have got my story across.

I hope this has clarified some things about me and my work and apologise for its length. I don’t have all the answers; I am on a journey like you.
All the best, Diana

“The beautiful is in nature, and it is encountered under the most diverse forms of reality. Once it is found it belongs to art, or rather to the artist who discovers it”. Gustave Courbet

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Re: Diana Williams artwork in China

Postby wild plum gallery » Wed Nov 03, 2010 8:57 am

Now for my take on all of this. I had promised myself for several days now, that I was not going to involve myself in this topic, but as one of the few porcelain artist that does create what I consider to be original porcelain art, I felt that there are several people that would be interested in my point of view.
First of all Diana, let me tell you that I did not take Marci's original post to the ppio list to be any discredit towards you in the slightest. Her comment was directed towards the art critics of the world and their perceptions of what constitutes art. That is a debate that has raged for millennium and will continue to do so. That's good, it means we will always be discussing and exploring the issue.
Now for my take on your work: Your work includes being both a designer (in one capacity) and as an artist in another. They are separate hats that you enjoy wearing. That is wonderful, if that is what you want out of life. I'm very happy that you have been able to achieve this goal.
As an artist, you are able to envision and create a work of art. Your hands, and only your hands created this piece. If however, you designed a piece and then oversaw the creation of that piece (even in part) by someone else, you were working in the capacity of a designer.
Here is a couple of examples of my work and my role in the finished piece:
scotwaterlilyvase.JPG

In the photo shown above, I designed, created, and painted the piece shown. Did I use a commercially made mold, commercially available slip, glaze, underglaze, china paints, yes I did.
It is still my original piece because I personally decided on what to do to alter the cast vase, I did the alterations, I applied the underglazes and glaze to the piece, I used china paints to paint the finished porcelain piece. My name is signed on the piece as the artist and my company name is signed on the piece as the mfg of the piece.
BTW, my company has NO employees or other craftsmen. It's all me, casting, cleaning, altering, glazing, firing, painting what gets painted, and scrubbing the toilet at the end of the day. I work in my studio an average of 20 hours a day, like yourself, and rarely get out to do much socializing.
Next example:
nitacookvase.JPG

In the above photograph, my client came to me to create a piece for her. She designed the piece and gave me instructions on how to create the product that she wanted. Therefore, I am not the artist in this example, I was merely the craftsman who created the work of art. Even prior to being painted (china paints), I could not call the piece that I created "my artwork". this piece is signed by my company as the mfg, and the name of the artist who designed and painted the piece as the artist.
Next example:
PICT5957.JPG

This is a piece that I am in the process of making, not a finished piece, but it perfectly illustrates my point. In this example, a client asked me to create a vase for her with waves around the top. End of instruction. I designed the piece, cast it, altered it, and will glaze the piece before selling it to my client. Is this piece "my artwork"?, yes! I choose and created the design. This will bear the signature of my company as the designer and mfg of this piece.
It all boils down to giving credit where credit is due. You are an artist, but you also work in other capacities. You deserve recognition for your work as a designer when you work in that capacity and as an artist in other situations. Many china painters sign a piece "hand painted by . . . " there is no confusion as to who deserves credit for what aspect of a finished piece.
Do not get defensive about your work, it's not necessary. We are capable of respecting your work at whatever levels you participated in as long as we know what that level was.
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