Friday, 27 September 2013

Jingdezhen workshop 2010

Just to practice my blogging I am putting in a copy of an email sent to friends back in May 2010. Its appropriate I think at this time as I contemplate another journey in April 2014 to return to this wonderful workshop in the porcelain capital of Jingdezhen China. Memories of this time are so powerful. A great experience shared under the generous guidance of my Canadian friends Trudy Golley and Paul Leathers who first persuaded me to undertake this journey. Thank you for your encouragement.
It has opened many new opportunities for engaging in the ceramic culture and heritage of China. Since that first trip where I met the Taiwanese ceramic artist/curator  Hwang Jeng -daw ( an amazing teapot maker who did some training in Yixing) at a Tiger Teapot  exhibition at the Noble Seafood Restaurant Shanghai I have been invited to exhibit yearly in the Zodiac teapot shows held in the afore mentioned venue. This again courtesy of Trudy Golley and Paul Leathers. One cant help but be bowled over by the kindness of ones potter and jeweller friends in creating and sharing such amazing opportunities. Well thats it for now . First attempt. I hope to get better over time. Now have to figure out how to let others know I am here.!!
Below is one of the Dragon teapots shown in 2012.

Wednesday May20th 2010
Letter from Jingdezhen

Dear Friends and family well I am feeling somewhat guilty for not having been in touch but truth be told every day has been so full of wonderful things to do and see I have been very remiss in contacting you.

The residency here has been quite extraordinary particularly with the incredible kindness and support of our Chinese hosts and workshop staff. It’s been one of the happiest and most wonderful experiences and I am determined to return again one day in the not too distant future.

We have been very well fed and housed in comfortable large bedrooms. A shared kitchen and laundry/bathroom are cleaned every day. We make our own breakfast but have lunch and dinner supplied except on Sunday when we go out and forage for ourselves. It’s not too much of a problem when you can get a restaurant meal for 3 people for 28 Yuan i.e. about $6. If you are really financially stretched a tasty snack from a street vendor will set you back about 30 cents!!!

Facilities for shopping are really good with a great bakery from which we get our regular fix of honey cakes and yogurt. Milk is a little more difficult to come by but a new supermarket has everything you could need plus great sesame snack biscuits!! Yes food gets to be really important when you travel.

Health wise have coped well with the first week giving us all some minor stomach upsets adjusting to the food and the Jingdezhen cold. The pollution ends up giving most of us a persistent cough but since it’s been bucketing down rain on many of the days that has helped settle the dust. It’s a bit hard to cope with the number of smokers in shops and restaurants but at least the workshop is smoke free. Spitting and rubbish on the streets is also a worry but you have to get used to it. Things are improving as I have been told there are now more rubbish bins on the streets. Traffic is wild but you get used to it after a while but as a pedestrian don’t expect anyone to stop for you even on a cross walk. U-turns over double lines and 2 lane roads turning into 4 are everyday occurrences as well as driving on the wrong side of the road. Blasting your horn constantly is also par for the course. Nervous cyclists and motor bike riders use the footpaths as well as pedestrians and the occasional car.

Re porcelain the place is full of hundreds of workshops all specialising in various aspects of making ceramics so it’s been exciting looking into various places where they make moulds ,glazes, fire kilns, make decals and transfers tools, kiln furniture i.e. anything you want we can get at incredibly cheap prices. Kiln shelves at$13 when at home the equivalent will be at least $100.

Well you can see I am having a great time and one more great treat is the foot massage. Goes for 1.5 hours and includes back neck shoulders and lower legs and feet of course for 50 Yuan i.e. $8. Absolutely fantastic. Yes I am making work as well albeit slowly with all the distractions. One can buy any shape to work on and I have succumbed to some teapots the rest I have made myself through casting and throwing the wonderful porcelain clay here with all its foibles. One can get the glaze man to glaze with the readymade glazes one purchases from the glaze shop then takes to the kiln master to fire for you. It’s a treat to have all these services on hand. Okay must away and email this or I will be home before you get it!!

Love to you all and see you in June

Sandra xxx

We have great coffee also at the workshop cafe and Gallery. Down here regularly at 3pm for the cappuccino on cold days and iced coffee hot days