I was fortunate to study a diploma of ceramics full-time at Holmesglen TAFE across 2011-2012. I remember putting together my portfolio for the interview with the course co-ordinator and can recall just how nervous I was during that initial conversation.
After experiencing a 6-week community art centre wheel-throwing course (at Carlton Arts Centre) while finalising my BA, I enrolled in the diploma course to extend my ceramics knowledge so that I could effectively teach ceramics alongside 2D media in a secondary school setting – having two high school teachers as parents, you could say that teaching is in my blood. I knew that if I didn’t get into the diploma course, I would be missing out on a great opportunity. Little did I know, how much I would be missing out on and how greatly my life would change because of it.
The diploma at Holmesglen focused on fundamental skills, was delivered by practicing artists and provided both technical and business content. Without this course, Servant Ceramics would not exist, at least not in its current form.
I’m sharing this origin story with you today as I have just found out that Holmesglen TAFE is likely to close its course – the last remaining Victorian diploma of ceramics – in 2017. The change.org petition spells it out more fully BUT I’m asking you, if you are a fellow maker, a fellow lover of handmade ceramic wares or a lover of someone who loves ceramics – SIGN THE PETITION! With your signature, we can signal to the TAFE’s administration that CERAMICS EDUCATION IS VALUED (you don’t even have to be an Australian citizen to sign it)!
The opportunity to develop, refine and focus on making, glazing, firing techniques alongside the supporting professional practice and safely subjects in a diploma course is a true gift for clay students. A diploma course encourages you to extend your practice, investigate the chemical processes inherent in manipulating clay and raw glaze materials, opens your eyes to other ceramic artists, styles and movements and you find invaluable sources of support in and through your fellow students and teachers.
While the model for ceramics education is changing – there’s no denying the financial and administrative changes that are pervading all Australian tertiary education institutions – this doesn’t mean that we can’t fight or signal our displeasure with these decisions.
I would strongly encourage you to sign the petition. If Holmseglen TAFE’s administration weren’t already aware of the creative passion, fiery heat and rebellious nature of their ceramics department and it’s past and present students (and their supporters), now is the best time to show them!
As for an official Servant Ceramics update…
I have been pushing hard to get new work ready for my upcoming markets and finalising all the custom Christmas orders! It’s been a crazy lead up to December.
As I was waiting on my cones to curl over in the glaze firing at 1am this morning, I was reminded of how amazingly rewarding this work is. Despite all the heartbreaks of a broken piece and the raw physicality of the making process, the opportunity I have been given this year to create heartfelt gifts has been a true gift in itself.
With a big smile for you, Rachel.