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30 December 2008

Gerry Wedd

GERRY WEDD: I'm just working on a big coil pot that's kind of based on Chinese pots I guess. Really, lots of people would say I just make things to decorate, so if you've got a bigger surface, there's more kind of room to play I guess.
I'm just using this old kick wheel, just so that I can keep the form more or less even.
When I was quite young I grew up near the sea at Port Noarlunga, and I started surfing very early in life. That wasn't very good for my school. I just was one of those kids who have that kind of drawing bug, and that combined with the fact that my mother in her later years took up pottery - so I grew up in a house where there was a film of clay dust all over the kitchen table.
Like everyone, I never wanted to turn into my mother, but I seem to have. If we had a photo you'd see.

After I finished school I was forced to enrol in a jewellery making course. But I couldn't get into an art school because my qualifications weren't good enough. So I spent years making jewellery, and also making pots that were pretty much the methods my mother had taught me.
My kind of interest in drawing and in popular culture led on to me working for Mambo which was a clothing company. One of the last shirts I did for Mambo was based on a famous photograph of a surfer standing in front of a giant wave, he's holding his board, but I replaced it with a thong. In surfing there's a really big push at the moment for soul surfing, you know, you're not interested in contests or commercial things and so sole, you know, s-o-l-e, s-o-u-l. And the other one, off the top of my head, was one called 'heir of the dog', you know h-e-i-r, h-a-i-r. And it was a stack of dogs, a couple of them vomiting bones and things like that, so obviously they were having the hair of the dog, not only the hair of the dog, but also it's the heir of the dog.

I had to do an exhibition, they wanted souvenirs and I was thinking about making postcards and things and then I thought "well thongs would be interesting" because they kind of wash up on beaches. And of course the thong is seen as a great Aussie icon. And this particular one has the willow pattern in the background, but there are a bunch of poppies growing in the front of it.

I think that's called the apple tree and everyone identifies it as a tree, but of course it's quite ridiculous, it looks like a kind of tree full of balloons. And so I made this version and this still hasn't been decorated. It's actually a real challenge to just work monochrome - you can't get away with just lashings of colour. And the other great thing about blue and white, you usually once the pot goes into the kiln, when it's glazed, it improves it, so you can paint really badly on something but the glaze kind of helps you along.

I'm also bringing Australian things into the pattern and so, for example, this little kangaroo would probably sit in this kind of landscape. This is a big version that I still haven't decorated, but, and these will all be blue and white.
One of the main features of the pattern is a boat. These little things, it's a bit hard to tell what they are at the moment, but when they're decorated they'll be based on these little women. I made these little women because ostensibly they're kinda cute and look a bit like Russian dolls and they're wearing backpacks - it's a reference to the whole suicide bombing thing, but it's more a reference to the paranoia about people of difference in our culture.

I actually surf kind of daily. I'm not very fussy, if you can get in the water, I go. I can kind of go surfing whenever I want to and I can make things that people will buy.