In early April my Asheville Potter Son, Josh Copus, posted a Facebook status update that read: “Kangaroo steaks on the barbie and Australia rules footie on the tellie, big Friday night downunder.”
During that same time he started blogging, documenting the month spent with his fellow Asheville potter mate, Dustin Fowler, as the first wood-fire potters of a new residency program (The Slow Working Institute of Pragmatic Expressionism /SWIPE) in Tasmania, an island off the coast of Australia. Together they dug clay, chopped wood, made pots, loaded, fired and waited for a kiln called “The Comet” to cool down.
In one of his first blog posts, Josh writes: “Docking up some timber out in the bush with the ute for the upcoming firing. The toilets might flush the other way but chainsaws cut the same downunder.”
Another entry that shows the importance of place to the pot making process begins: “The clay we made today is a combination of two Tasmanian materials: a nice yellow clay from Oyster cove and this beautiful plastic white clay from the lagoon at Cremorne, just down the hill from the institute.”
Josh writes about his residency hosts, Ben and Peta Richardson of Ridgeline Pottery, saying: “My days here are full of great food, beautiful landscapes, good days in the studio, and lively conversation around the table. Ben and Peta have been wonderful as hosts and their place is a little slice of heaven.”
He showed us that slice of heaven with photos of sun drenched pots, beachfront ocean scenes, boulder hopping poses on top of Mount Wellington and even him pulling a massive oyster out of a lagoon, which he later ate and described as one of the biggest, freshest, and best tasting oysters he’s ever had.
The residency included day trips and culminated in a Kiln Opening Sale of the work Josh and Dustin created. Then it was on to the initial reason that brought Josh to Australia, “On the Edge of the Shelf,” a wood-fired ceramics conference where Josh had been invited to be a presenter.
Blog readers were treated to another month’s worth (and counting) of documentation, including photos of kiln building, fire and friends. One photo of Josh and other potters smashing rocks of clay with large blunt hammers looks like something out of 2001: A Space Odyssey. A newspaper story, in which Josh was quoted, described the event like this: The three-week festival will create a community of potters working and living together on the farm just south of Narooma on the Far South Coast NSW, where ideas will be freely exchanged and the art of wood-firing celebrated.
In a recent blog post, Josh summed up his experience so far, saying: “Collectively the presenters at the conference represent six continents and over 700 years of making experience. I am constantly amazed by how open and generous the woodfire community is and it’s good to be a part of the tribe.” He posted a picture of some of the U.S. tribe with clay painted on their faces and a caption that read: “Team America gearing up for the clay Olympics at on the Edge of the Shelf International Woodfire conference.”
Post Notes: The above photos were taken from Josh’s webpage/blog. Check it out HERE. And HERE is a link to the Ceramics Arts collective and gallery that Josh founder in the River Arts district of Asheville. UPDATE: Newspaper coverage on the final night of firing at the On the Edge of the Shelf with the word “epic” in the title HERE. /Shadow Shot Sunday