Julia Galloway's professional life both as teacher of ceramics at University of Montana and as clay artist are thoroughly thought-out and intelligently practiced. She has worked hard in a field that requires hard work and a strong personal vision, to really shine. Attending her presentation, I was delighted to listen to her because just as she has a way with clay, she has a way with language.
Julia talked about the relationship of surface and form, and the development of her own ideas about that. Then she made a list on the chalkboard of 8 forms she would make for us over Tuesday and Wednesday. They were: pitcher, 2-lb. ewer (I think that's what it says!), 4 cups, salt & pepper shakers, water ewer, sauceboat, teapot and mug. These did get made, and different handles and handle application demonstrated as well. (I was there for her "celery" style handle, which I am going to try, it's so great looking.) And it was really fun to watch. I'm a thrower, and watching a master throw and take apart and reassemble parts is always riveting.
These 8 forms got made with various considerations of shapes and gestures, and best placements of handles for each piece that was getting a handle. Each was intended to get its own surface decoration.
A potter who challenges herself to fulfill different ideas while maintaining a clear artistic voice is a very interesting potter. Many aspire.
Julia is interested in form. "Form is about your body", she says, vs an intellectual idea removed from that.
She has worked up a routine, in which she develops an idea, then mounts an installation that works around that particular idea in a gallery. "Figuring out some way of installing pots that support that idea" is, in simple terms, how she does this.
It takes her 3-4 years to put together a whole installation. The space itself helps determine how many and what size, and whether to hang some (i.e. her Clouds installation, http://juliagalloway.com/sky-vault-2012.html), and in what configuration the pieces will be shown. Julia talked particularly about one installation, the John James Audubon birds that she drew on cups, one type of bird per cup, celebrating Audubon's entire collection of bird paintings. She talked about the inspiration she drew from how, as he approached the end of his life, Audubon began drawing with both hands, trying to get the whole body of work completed as quickly as possible as time ran out.
The decoration on the surfaces starts with the kind of drawing that is made by a pointed tool pulled or pushed along, etching the leather-hard clay, like a drawing by pencil or brush except incised. She applies color in media like slip or underglaze or oxide mix over the area of the etched drawing, then wipes it back with a sponge so it remains only in the etched lines. Other areas will have glazes on them after the bisque, possibly over drawings as well that might not be incised but might rather sit on the surface. Luster might be added in an additional fire.
From "Audubon" installation:
Here is a coffee or tea pot from her Dreaming and Daily Life installation, showing the development of a theme on the surface of one of her pieces- in this case a window, over an unmade bed, complete with a shoe sitting on the floor. Additional glaze areas are on the handle, in the spout, and on the lid, which is complete with a lustered knob.
To do her work justice, please spend some time with Julia Galloway's website. It's well worth the time spent browsing.