Alexandra Standen talks about the making of her work, The Other Moon (2011-2012) in the 2012 Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award.
[Vision of ladders in studio]
[Alexandra Standen] I got the Sidney Myer Award, and so I've spent the first half of my year making and making and making ladders in the studio, which has been lovely.
[Alexandra Standen] It's been really nice to focus on one specific project that I feel passionate about.
[Close-up of ladders]
[Alexandra Standen] The work that I've produced has been based on a short story by an Italian author called Italo Calvino.
[Unwraps a miniature ladder]
[Alexandra Standen] It was loosely based on my experiences rom different environments - growing up in the country, living in the city, and travelling to the outback of Australia.
[Scissors cut through Styrofoam]
[Alexandra Standen] So it was a combination of different moods and emotions in different landscapes and environments.
[She continues unwrapping]
[Alexandra Standen] It was also strongly based on this story, which begins with Darwin proclaiming that the moon is so close to the earth that you could row out into a boat, put a ladder up in the boat and touch the moon when the moon shifts and the gravity pulls you onto the moon.
[Pile of small ladders]
[Alexandra Standen] So it was this lovely story about two different worlds and falling in love with one world and having a connection with another.
[Alexandra Standen] So it was definitely about space, and that's where the idea for a wall installation came because I wanted to get a sense of space. And I love working in multiples, so the small hand-built ladders that I made was a perfect combination for the installation.
[Women watch Alexandra shape clay]
[Alexandra Standen] I hand-build all my work. So I roll out the slab of clay, I score into the clay, and start hand-building using small elements and just... I make hundreds of them.
[Several women shape clay]
[Alexandra Standen] Glazing the ladders at first was really difficult. I had to find out different ways that I could glaze it. The studio that I work at at the moment has quite a large anagama wood-fired kiln, which is a tunnel kiln - you pack from the back, crawl inside, you pack all the way to the front, you brick it up and you fire it over a number of days and then you leave it for a week and you unpack and it's all sort of a surprise because the characteristic of good firing is the fact that the flames sort of hit the surface of the object and react with the clay that you've used and produce these beautiful, sometimes really rich flashing reds from the flame, or beautiful blacks or pinks.
[Smooths inside of little clay pot]
[Alexandra Standen] So I really wanted to experiment with putting a white porcelain beside something that was so rustic and beautiful and earthy.
[Studio, SAM building]
[Alexandra Standen] This is a big award for me, I guess, 'cause I feel like I'm just starting out and I'm just trying to find my feet and what I feel most comfortable doing, and the support I've had from SAM is incredible.
[Sidney Myer Fund Australian Ceramic Award]
[Alexandra Standen] When you're starting out as an artist, to have that reassurance straightaway that you're doing OK and the work that you're making is OK and people like it and there's an audience that appreciates your work is a really, really important thing for artists to have.
[Alexandra Standen] I think it will help me to think on a grander scale, as well.
[People standing, holding wine glasses]
[Alexandra Standen] Initially, before getting this award, I was thinking, 'I'll just make small things and keep it safe and I don't want to fail.' Whereas this has helped me to think bigger and the publicity from this has been amazing, as well.
[Ladders mounted on wall]
[Alexandra Standen] I've had people who don't know my work before, like, it's really pushed me out into a more public domain.
[Alexandra Standen] So this award's been brilliant.