Monday, December 14, 2009

Mysteries of the Selkies/Ceramics With Earth Colors/ CELTIC MYTH

Rabbit Man of the Sea
blue gray and red earthen oxides on white clay
by Eric Whollem
Private Collection


This work was inspired by meeting an Irish gentleman named
George, who related to me in Mendocino that he had lived on
the beaches of Ireland, and was well aquainted with the lore
of the selkies, or the mermaids.

He told me that the term Selkie means Shifter. The selkie is
legendarily able to take on any life form. George told me
that in fact he was going to come back as a rabbit in his
next life--"to aid the people." It could be that George was
referring to the Hare of Irish lore.

The Hare in old Ireland was called Gearr,  considered the most
adept of animals at shape shifting. The hare symbolizes Intuition
and Balance. As well  the Hare is a representative of the 
Spirit of Grain and the two equinoxes. Gearr was a sign of
Rebirth and Abundance.

In Celtic lore all the spiritual creatures dwelled in Emania,
the Otherworld, typified as a mystic ocean. Gearr is
thought to move in and out of the Otherworld at will.


     Three Goddess Figurines by Eric Whollem 1992
     Private Collection



I have followed the New World, or Mesoamerican tradition in the
pigmentation of my ceramic sculptures. I began making paints
from raw natural earth, sand, ash, charcoal and clay in 1973. These

I apply to my fired clay pieces much as a Peruvian ceramic artist
might do. The colors are painted on (usually with a binder of
polymer emulsion). Buffering by hand gives the pieces a modest gloss.

Ceramic glaze was first invented by Korean potters. Their idea spread
all across the globe, following the caravan routes across Central Asia
into Europe. In the Americas glaze, a melted glass coating, was never
used in pottery.


The clay I use is usually Laguna or Imco Sculpture Mix. Sometimes I 
apply commercial ceramic oxides or carbonates to my work. Infrequently
I have utilized raku glazes.


My work could be described as earthenware. Many of my pieces
are terracotta.

I originally began creating in clay in 1977, but it was not until 1988 that I
began in earnest to explore ceramic sculpture. Subsequently I have
made many hundreds of sculptures, figurines, beads, wallpieces, masks
and hangings.


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