TACA has been greatly dismayed to hear of the savage cuts to TAFE art courses – including ceramics – announced in the last few days by the NSW government. These cuts have the potential to make a huge impact on ceramic practice at all levels in this country – from the school system to higher education institutions, where TAFE-trained students make up a significant group. I urge members to sign the online petition being run by Fund Art Education in NSW TAFE at www.communityrun.org/petitions/fund-art-education-in-nsw-tafe.
This year has been a particularly busy and productive one for TACA and it is with much pleasure that I set out below some very tangible outcomes achieved by the Association over the last twelve months.
One of the key public ‘faces’ of TACA is its website and this year it has been re-designed and given a general overhaul. Vicki Grima worked with Website Design City on the redevelopment, much assisted by advice and support from our website guru, Grant Ayre. On behalf of the Association I’d like to thank them here for the generous contribution each has made. They have done a terrific job: the website looks great, is easy to navigate, and continues to act as a very productive interface between the Association and the ceramic community. The website is a very active portal and so far in 2012 just over 19,000 visitors have visited the site approximately 30,000 times.
Another other key public face of the Association, The Journal of Australian Ceramics, this year has celebrated two very important milestones. As I write this, the first digital editions of the Journal have been published online. This is a significant achievement; it will allow the Journal and its readers to take full advantage of the possibilities of the digital realm. Subscribers now will have access to a broader range of information, be able to view video and link directly to featured artist’s, supplier’s and other relevant websites/blogs. Entry into the digital realm has necessitated the development of a ‘Licence to Publish’ document and this has been through a large number of iterations involving feedback from online publishers, the TACA committee, the Arts Law Centre of Australia and members.
This year has also seen publication of JAC’s 50th anniversary issue in April – Issue 51/1. Fifty years of continuous publication is a fantastic achievement and the Journal continues to provide a platform for engaging with the technical, historical, theoretical and critical issues germane to contemporary ceramics practice and makers. We celebrated the anniversary at Manly Art Gallery and Museum (who very generously lent us their space and a huge amount of support) with the aim of paying tribute to the Journal’s editors, contributors and supporters. A further celebration will take place during the upcoming 2012 Ceramics Triennale in Adelaide. At this, we look forward to inviting members and supporters from all states to join us in toasting the Journal’s remarkable longevity.
At the Manly celebration, craft curator and writer Grace Cochrane spoke eloquently about the role of the Journal in relation to the field, we cut the traditional JAC ‘anniversary cake’ and had the opportunity also to mark the closing of the 50th anniversary exhibition. This show, PROmotion originally conceptualised by Michael Keighery with the TACA committee, then curated by Dee Taylor Graham, combined the work of emerging practitioners with work from Manly Gallery’s extensive ceramics collection.
The 50th celebration also gave us the opportunity to publicly award the first Trudie Alfred Bequest Ceramic Scholarships. Trudie’s niece Marie Westgarth made the presentations to the recipients: Amy Hick (ACT), Janetta Kerr-Grant (VIC), Tracey Mitchell (NSW), Serena Rosevear (TAS) and Sharon Thompson (NSW). The Association wishes them well and you can read comments they have made on the Association’s blog at https://australianceramics.wordpress.com. I’d like to thank Prue Venables (SA) and Ray Cavill (QLD) for joining Vicki Grima and me in judging the Scholarships. This year’s applications close on 21 September and Stephen Benwell (VIC) and Ben Richardson (TAS) will be the external judging panel members.
Gerry Wedd from South Australia curated the biennial members’ exhibition The Narrative Knot at Manly Art Gallery and Museum and selected the work of 26 artists. Our thanks to Gerry and Director Jackie Dunn and the staff at MAGM who, as always, were a delight to work with.
During the last financial year the Association has held a number of workshops: Petra Svoboda Printing on Clay was held in Sydney in July 2011, Under the Surface – creativity and mark making with Shannon Garson on 4 & 5 August 2012 in Maleny QLD, and a Sandy Brown Workshop, Learning about Oneself by Doodling in Clay is scheduled to be held at the Workshop Arts Centre in Willoughby on 27 & 28 October. The Association has also managed an annual ceramics focus at Sydney’s Eveleigh Artisans Markets each November and has been in planning mode for the 2012 Australian Ceramics Triennale. The Association will have a trade stall, a members’ JAC 50th Anniversary Vase Show and celebration and we are sponsoring one of the Triennale’s panels, a Graduate Student Research Panel.
Our normal meeting venue at the Powerhouse Museum has been unavailable this year because of renovations and this gave us the opportunity to have selected meetings hosted by institutions with an educational focus on ceramics: The National Art School and Sydney College of the Arts (in early 2011), and Hornsby College (TAFE) and Northern Beaches College (TAFE), our thanks to them. We have had an inspirational group of guest speakers at meetings and thanks go to each one: Jan Guy, Stephen BirdJanet DeBoos, Mary Dorahy and Sue Buckle.
The work of TACA is carried out by a small group of staff and by its committee members and volunteers. The TACA office staff, Vicki Grima (Executive Officer), Ashley McHutchison (Subscriptions & Administration) and Elisa Bartels (JAC Editorial Assistant and Newsletter Editor), as well as very ably carrying out the Association’s ongoing business, have done much of the work associated with TACA’s new initiatives this year. I’d like to acknowledge and thank them here for their hard work and for their commitment to the Association.
As Executive Officer of the Association and Editor of the Journal, Vicki has a dual role and she manages both with amazing competence and good cheer. Much of the work of the new website and JAC’s digitisation – the celebration of JAC’s 50th anniversary, The Trudie Alfred Bequest – has fallen to her and she has very expertly undertaken all of these, while keeping the rest of TACA’s business afloat. On behalf of the Association, I’d like to extend to her a very warm vote of thanks. As a distant President – that is, one residing in a state (ACT) distant from the TACA office – I’d also like to thank Vicki for the role she plays in shouldering TACA business and for the support she has offered to me in the past year.
TACA is a membership organisation and it is indebted to the many volunteers who support and give their time to it. On behalf of the Association, and personally – for their assistance and support in what has been an ‘interesting’ year for me – I’d like to thank the committee members: Vice-President Barbara Campbell-Allen and Treasurer Trisha Dean both share their broad knowledge of the operational aspects and particular ways of the Association very generously; Karen Weiss as Education Liaison Officer has done a sterling job in the role; our auditor Dennis Woollam has very ably supported the Association in relation to matters financial; Workshop Liaison Officer Ellin Pooley has kept the pot boiling in that aspect of TACA’s business, and thanks to Julie Bartholomew for her work in Exhibitions Liaison. The general committee members, Natalie Velthuyzen, Amanda Hale, Jill Klopfer, Ray Stevenson and Jo Wood have had an active year and thanks to them for all of the hard work on the 50th celebration in particular (including Maddy Ghosh) and for their input in general. Thanks also go to our Minutes Secretary Ros Bonser and to other committee members who have acted in this role on various occasions.
Grant Ayre has continued to support the Association by providing website support, advice and technical expertise. His work in developing the new website and his help in ironing out teething problems has been much appreciated. Three others who work behind the scenes for the Association are Advertising Manager Carol Fraczek, Designer Astrid Wehling and Proofreader Suzanne Dean. Carol, Astrid and Suzanne have lent their expertise to the Journal for a number of years now and their contribution is greatly valued.
TACA is looking forward to the next 12 months and hope it proves as lively as the one just passed. At a challenging time for ceramics education our membership has seen good growth over the year, and we are very happy to welcome each of our 178 new members. As ever, TACA welcomes input and feedback from members, new and old, so please feel free to contact the office or Committee members (firstname.lastname@example.org or see http://australianceramics.com).
by Patsy Hely, 2012 – Annual President’s Report