Some weeks ago we had the privilege of having Ian Jones in Singapore. Ian, himself is a much celebrated potter in Australia, and does wood firing in his own dragon kiln in Gundaroo, Canberra. This was his first visit to Singapore and he came specially, under the invitation of our festival to assess the structural stability of the dragon kiln, as well as to help us strategise the firing of the entire dragon kiln.
The first half an hour was spent understanding the kiln by: studying the level of soot on the interior of the kilns, seeing how far the soot has been taken from, and understanding the firing temperature of the kiln bricks that had not been used before. Well, and of course admiring just the structure and size of this dragon. It was my first time too, travelling so far into the belly of this dragon.
During his visit we learnt many things, not just from Ian but also by speaking to the proud owner of the other dragon kiln at Thow Kwang, we found out that this technology brought in by the South Chinese ceramics businessmen, was really about efficiency. As such, the task of getting the earthenware pots to a reasonable temperature of 1100 degrees could easily take less than two days! Well, of course these kilns were not built to deposit wood ash glaze as much as it was to do a functional firing.
It was indeed a fruitful and very productive 4 days that Ian spent with us. From discussing the plan on how to pack this old dragon kiln, to the details of safety aspects that we should consider during the firing, the exchange was very much appreciated by all.
On top of this massive task, he also gave a passionate talk on ‘Wabi-Sabi’ and ‘The environmental impacts of wood firing’, that was hosted so very generously by His Excellency the Australian High Commissioner, Mr Doug Chester, who opened up his residence on a lovely Saturday afternoon to an exclusive group of people. We are of course, so very delighted to have the support of the Australian High Commission on our project, because it is with such confidence that we are able to push on despite the tasks ahead. It is only just the beginning, but what a great start!!!