Alex Chalmers
Architectural Designer . W.I.M. Architects

139mm x 317mm / Seared Horsehair on Australian White Stoneware With High Grog / Raku Fired

Artist Statement

Code, print, wet, leather-hard, bone-dry, raku fire.

The piece balances a tension between contemporary methods and ancient practice through a weaving of modern technology with vernacular Japanese pottery techniques. Adopting unconventional means through computer-aided design and visual scripting, the form is plotted and printed from compressed, saturated clay. Inspired by contemporaries of SoHo, Manhattan, the manifested design is intended as a standalone, off-the-wall vessel, divergent from shapes traditionally constrained by the centrifugal force of the potter’s wheel. The intent is for this artwork to be a conversation piece, prompting the question: “How was that made?”.  

In time, the partially dried form is honed and burnished by hand with a smooth stone, and turned on the potter’s wheel, blending lines and layers. When the finessed piece is bone-dry, it is placed in the makeshift kiln, comprising of an old barrel insulated with ceramic fibre. Through fire, the clay transitions to ceramic, and while glowing, is extracted from the raku kiln at roughly 1000 degrees Celsius. As the glow fades, horsehair is seared along the piece. The organic black sear-marks contrast the elegance of the white form, paying homage to ancient practice on the contemporary medium.

About The Artist

I am an architectural designer that has segued into the medium of ceramics, making pieces with my old man.

The inception of my interest in 3D printing was birthed in 2017. While undertaking my Master of Architecture degree at the University of Queensland, I embarked on a field trip to the University of California, Berkeley. The co-founders of Emerging Objects, Prof. Ronald Rael and Prof. Virginia San Fratello, hosted our study and inspired me in their misappropriation of 3D printing and the inherent limitlessness of this technology.

In 2018, on my thesis journey to Copenhagen, Denmark, I was enthralled by the Dane’s love for functional ceramics and their keen eye for detail. Every second store, I felt, was a small pottery studio displaying their pieces on shelves in their storefront windows.

When I returned, my father, Martin, and I began our journey of trying to find a happy medium combining my love of 3D printing with the ancient art of ceramics. We enrolled at the Gold Coast Potters Association and shortly after, bought our first wheel. Within months, and through my background and skill-base in Rhino + Grasshopper, I was scripting pieces into fruition, and finessing them by hand.