Stage three: THE INSTALLATION of Pole Sculptures in the dam.

We had, up until now, a very cold and wet winter. The level of the dam has been rising, a wonderful sight under normal circumstances.

For me, the rise of the water, means wading into the cold dam. The poles for the smaller sculptures are already partially submerged.


Even I know how much the clay I am using shrinks in the drying and firing, It is extremely difficult to make the pieces exactly the right size. Therefore I made a number of “fill-ins”. One can always extend the height of the sculpture by making another part, but there is absolutely no way to shorten the sleeves once they are fired.


The last firing was a great success, now everything is ready to be taken to the site.


But first of all I had to get all the pieces from the studio to the dam. It is only a short walk. Still, after a number of walks carrying as much as I could, I decided on a better solution.


Putting the sculpture together is like threading giant beads. Oh, were there only friendly Giants in this part of the world! It would save me a lot of ladder-climbing. There are up to six sleeves per sculpture. Since they are breakable I had to slide them down the metal pole as I descend the ladder. I need to hold on to the ladder with one hand, slowly slide the pottery sleeve, which can weigh up to 2kg, down the pole and that often with an extended arm.

Who needs to go to the Gym? IMG_9643

Then help came in the form of my son Sean. We got all the sleeves on and discovered that the metal poles were still too long. I had not made enough sleeves! We managed to get two of the sculptures finished by using all the “fill-ins” I had made.

Standing on the other side of the dam, looking at my work, I decided to find out if I could cut the metal poles shorter. I just felt that the installation would look better if the poles were at different heights.

Over a cup of coffee my friend Peter and I worked out a plan how to get power for an angle grinder from the house to the other side of the dam.

My very careful measuring was totally wrong! Numbers defeat me. If I only could have drawn my math’s tests, I would have passed! That is probably why I did not have enough ceramic sleeves in the first place. But then as it often happens mistakes can lead one to new ideas.

Having been made aware of the danger in using power tools whilst standing on a steel ladder, which is standing in water, I decided to change my plan and my helper.

Neil Tait came to the rescue with his cordless angle grinder.

Then he put the last top sculpture on.


Only a few days ago I had a phone call from a young man, who was, some years ago, in one of my clay modeling classes for children. Now twenty years of age he is doing a general art course and needed to interview a “practicing” artist. One of his questions was this: “Why do I do what I do?” I had to think long and hard. On the other side of the phone was a young man on the bottom of the ladder of his artistic career. I have had many years working as a production potter to make money to live, then making small sculptural work, again for money. Now, climbing up the last few rungs of the ladder of my life, I have decided to do as I please. I have no responsibilities, there is just me, my dogs and Emily the chicken to care about. The young man on the other hand, has to discover his own path.

This brings me to “My Folly”, as I have called my last sculptural work.

Hidden away at the bottom of my bush block close to a very small town in the middle of Victoria, no one will ever see it! I made it entirely for my own satisfaction. It is not as large as the ceramic piece by Magnus Furuholmen that I saw in Oslo, but it is quite big enough for me.


.The dam has been transformed. When dry, and the earth is cracked, the sculpture will enhance the surrounds. When filled with water the reflection of the poles will play with the reflection of the trees.

Never will I see the dam as being ugly. Never will I feel an aversion towards the cracked earth in the summer.

For me, it has also been a transformation. I have allowed myself to put a large hole into my bank account by using a vast amount of clay, buckets of glaze and a lot of gas for the firing, just for my own enjoyment and satisfaction. This project has somehow freed me from the commercial side of art.

My artistic life has been filled with making things for others; making things for money; making things to pay bills.

This one is for ME.!

Yet, I must admit, that there is a bit of vanity setting in. This is why I struggled to learn how to create a Blog, or as I would like to call it a Clog (ceramic log), so I can share it with you. I do hope you enjoyed my journey.


From this to-






They are going under, the dam is filling up! We are having wonderful rain!


Under and under they go.

September 14th, after a wild night and two days of incredible rain the dam is full.

The three water-spirits have disappeared. They will emerge  when the dam settles.


Beautiful light on a rainy day.



November, a family of wood ducks are visiting:


Slowly the water in the dam is settling to it’s summer level. It has gone down approximately half a meter and the little creatures are slowly appearing. First the bird, than the teapot and now also the top of the mast of the boat.

Two of the water-spirits are slowly showing their faces. The boat is emerging.


fullsizeoutput_1578   fullsizeoutput_1586


January 27/2017  Soon the dam will be at the summer level. The head the boat is sitting on has still to appear.


February 14/2017 the boat is now completely out of the water. The unglazed surface is, as I hoped it would, incrusted and old looking.


March 5. The boat is being pushed out of the water by the water-spirit.


7 thoughts on “Stage three: THE INSTALLATION of Pole Sculptures in the dam.

  1. The photos are great — they draw me right into your story — and they help me to see a little of what you see. Given the endlessly changing light, water, bush and seasons around the dam, I hope your photographic inspirations continue.


  2. Liebe Ellen. Wir sind entzückt von dein Prozess und das Resultat! Aber auch der tekst ist fantastisch. Wir kennen uns wieder in die Freiheit die man nach eine lange proffesionelle und interessante Karriere fühlt. Die Freude wenn man nur führ sich selbst etwas gestaltet und es gelingt! Auch wie man unterwegs den Prozess ändern muss und dass Resultat noch besser wird als man von Anfang gedacht hat. Wir lieben auch deine Ehrlichkeit am Ende deiner Geschichte.
    Liebe Grüße Per & Gudrun


  3. It is just wonderful Ellen. The sentiments you shared were honest and understood. Good on you. The photos taken I will keep and I want to she this on Facebook. I hope you don’t mind. Well done my friend you have to be tough to wade into the dam in the winter we have been experiencing this year… and a ladder to boot. So glad you achieved all this and didn’t hurt yourself. Love Pam


  4. I always knew my mum was amazing. It’s been great to see this project grow from an idea to the stunning finished product. Brilliant to see it today with the dam completely full. Well done. – Nina


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