We interviewed artist Corrina Hoseason on her return from a recent residency in China. Corrina is both a past mentee and was one of our artists in residence at Artists Alliance, so we have been watching her career unfold for some time. Whilst in China, her Instagram imagery of both the place itself and the work she was creating had us enthralled. We’re pleased to say she has generously shared some of those images, they can be viewed at the bottom of this article.
1. Hi Corrina, you recently returned from a two month residency in Jingdezhen, China. Had you been to China before & what were your first impressions of Jingdezhen?
No, I had never been to China before and actually I didn’t do the research I should have before going so I had little to no idea what to expect. When I arrived in Jingdezhen my first impression was: CHAOS! It was hot and loud with people, scooters, cars, dogs, chickens and ceramics everywhere all in the same place at once and all honking. Our van driver had to stop the van to get out and physically lift some parked scooters off the road so we could squeeze past. We didn’t know it at the time but we had arrived on a public holiday and there happened to be a special creative market in the courtyard right in front of our Pottery Workshop (PWS) apartments which had drawn the crowds in. Thank goodness it wasn’t quite so overwhelming everyday! Once we got up into the studio though and looked out across the historic style rooftops to the lovely mountains and ate our first of many delicious meals everything was much more peaceful.
2. From your amazing images on Instagram it looks like an absolute mecca for a ceramicist at the pottery workshop. What effect did this immersive environment have on your practice whilst there (and now that you’re home)?
There is nowhere else in the world where you could possibly see such an extensive range of porcelain production or porcelain integration into the everyday life, community and economy of one place. Porcelain its manufacture, the history, the sale and its display consumes the city of Jingdezhen and I was so lucky to be placed in the heart of all of this in the Sculpture factory area where all the serious artisan production happens. There is no advanced computer technology or specific process designed spaces just hundreds of very skilled hands that have been trained in their particular skill over generations and all of which could rival the quality of mechanically industrial production from elsewhere. This highlighted for me that given just basic practice and patience, we as humans can achieve extraordinary levels of craftsmanship with simply our own hands. While I was working in Jingdezhen refining these heritage hand skills was definitely a focus of mine. The process through which you make ceramics in Jingdezhen was also essentially very different. Every stage of the process is individualised with a specialist performing each task. Instead of the artist being the only person to touch the work from conception to conclusion there are many people involved along the way. This gives you the feeling of less control but the system is efficient as everyone only does one specific task and is set up for that task so it can be done quickly with expertise. I spent a lot of time trying to embrace these local methods of making which were so foreign to my own practice. It threw up many challenges but also significantly transformed each piece into something very unique and different from my previous works. Now that I am home I am undeniably missing the buzz that a productive all encompassing ceramic environment gives, but I also now feel I have time to be decisive, reflect and choose which direction to take forward in my practice after gathering so much more inspiration.
3. A technical question….how did you get your works home and dare we ask…did they all arrive safely intact? I had to crate and ship all my works home. While in China this wasn’t difficult as there were people at the PWS who help artists do this on a regular basis and help you to understand the rules, regulations and costs involved. There is also pro packing assistance if needed and crates and packing materials are custom ordered at a price much less then what we would usually pay. However once your crate leaves China you are all on your own dealing with the local side of the shipping company which is a completely separate organisation, has a very different approach and a new set of fees. Let’s just say they were a little less helpful but we got there in the end. Now as for the work, I haven’t managed to unpack all of it just yet as I brought such a large amount of stuff home and my house is far too small to fit it all into! But from what I have unpacked it has all happily arrived unharmed.
4. You are a very proactive artist when it comes to applying for opportunities such as residencies and the likes, why do you think these types of experiences are important to your practice?
I feel residencies offer a new environment and a concentrated period of time in which to focus on a particular aspect of your practice while being inspired by your new surroundings. I have found that each residency I have completed has presented such a variety of experiences and exposed me to more than I had previously been able to comprehend. The way in which I have approached, dealt with and grown from many of these foreign situations has also surprised me and often resulted in unanticipated outcomes throughout my work. The experiences, network and ideas cultivated during these times is what continues to stimulate my work once home and will do so far into the future.
5. What is happening next for you? And will we be able to view the works you made whilst on the residency?
While in China my focus was to learn traditional techniques. So although I made a great deal of work, most of the pieces are things I hope to develop further now that I am home. My intention was to attempt a new body of work but unfortunately the majority of this work broke in the kiln which was a huge learning process into the differences in production between Chinese ceramic processes and the methods I am used to. I did bring my entire mould and tools collection back with me so my next move is to knuckle down and adapt all that I learnt into my home studio practice and build upon the major pieces I made that did survive. These surviving pieces are currently on show at the picturesque The Vivian Gallery in Matakana. So basically from here on I am just continuing to solve the never ending problem that is ceramics! I would like to thank Creative NZ and the Asia:NZ Foundation for their generous support and funding that made possible my nine inspiring weeks in Jingdezhen.
The following imagery is courtesy Corrina Hoseason. Please click on any image to enlarge.