- Traditional Production
THE ZLAKUSA SUMMER WORKSHOP
was a great opportunity to attend the summer workshop of the
8th lnternational Fine Art Colony in Yugoslavia (Serbia) in
August. Fifteen ceramists from five different countries participated,
working together for ten days in Zlakusa, a beautiful village,
about 200 miles south of Belgrade.
modern techniques are currently in place in western countries,
what impressed me at Zlakusa, was the determination of the organiser
and members to maintain local traditions of pottery. The express
aim of the event’s organiser, Sofija Bunardzic, is to maintain
300 years of traditional Zlakusa pottery by using a wooden hand-throwing
wheel, and firing pots in an open field at 700 centigrade. When
she started this in 1996, there were only nine potters, but
now, after eight years, this number has increased to 40, communicating
through an exchange of culture. This is the result of her determined
effort to sustain the event.
Zlakusa clay from a local source, and mix it with calcite (mineral
stone grained) quarried from the village in a 50:50 proportion.
The texture of the clay, though somewhat rough, is very soft.
Local potters produce mainly domestic ware. The quality of the
clay is quite different from others (low temperature firing
clay) but quite easy to control.
use clay direct, from an already well-mixed chunk, to make sausages
to their own required size without making coils, which compared
with my experience is a very rapid process. Under this low temperature
firing, glazes are not available for decoration but they can
use terra sigilate and engobe for decoration (colour pigments).
Furthermore, it can produce pieces with a smooth, shiny surface.
open field firing
by local potter Dragon
at the Zlakusa pottery
of the participants, a ceramist, Professor Vukicevic, from Belgrade
University, uses this method for his work when he is in Zlakusa,
producing very interesting clay pieces. The work is normally
hand-built and fired at high temperature (1250 centigrade)
similar to my own.
Bunardzic is a painter and ceramist and one of the Zlakusa pottery
experts. Her pots are mainly decorative, ornamental and on a
large scale. She shows her work in galleries in Uzice, Serbia’s
second city, about ten minutes away by car. She has a studio
in Uzice, where she teaches and works. This space is also used
for keeping former participants’ work. This was the eighth Colony,
and consequently the government now gives her work serious support.
Her long-term aim is to open an art museum in Uzice. l hope
she succeeds in this venture and that her energetic efforts
will be rewarded.
all stayed at potters’ homes, working in the workshops and eating
together in one of the houses. The people were most hospitable,
even though they spoke little English or any other language.
knew that there were quite a few summer workshops in the world
like this one, but have never heard of this kind of exchange
in the UK. Three participants from Japan (well-established clay
artists from Tokoname and Seto) were supported financially by
the Japanese Government, receiving a grant for travelling costs.
But the organisers provided everything for the ten-day event.The
flight from Manchester to Belgrade with Lufthansa cost about
NEWS, The Newsletter of the Craft Potters Association,
Number 93, January/February 2004, p. 5)
The similar article published in: Ceramic Review, 205, January/February
2004, p. 61