Friday, June 17, 2011

What's in a name?

One of the most common questions I'm asked is Why Bison? You live in Australia so what's the significance of the logo to where you are located? Well..this two part question deserves a proper response. Let me start by saying my life prior to and after creating Bison was filled with amazing opportunities. After attending school in Malmo (Sweden) and exploring Viking burials and rune stones with inscriptions, I then returned to Australia and studied Ancient History/Classics at ANU (MLitt). Part of my studies took me to Syria where I worked on an archaeological site (Hellenistic) on the Euphrates River just outside Aleppo. There we excavated up on the acropolis and also assisted an anthropologist in the city cemetery (Necropolis). 

To be so immersed in ancient cultures was an incredible privelige and one which allowed me to gain an insight into pottery from numerous periods. Considering we spent weeks gluing broken vessels back together understandably my interest swayed to creating my own intact versions! In such an environment it became the perfect setting for me to study the profiles of Hellenistic and later Roman ceramic forms. In some fragments we dug up you could still discern the potter's fingerprint in the foot, or base, of the objects. It was this personal relationship with the ancient artisans which gave greater significance to the study of these pieces and which spilled over in to my own approach to our handmade forms. 

My mother (also at one time my teacher!) gave me a set of childcare encyclopaedias as a child. They each had a different coloured spine and I loved the one about history. It even had a section about the cave paintings in Altamira (Spain) which had the line drawings of prehistoric bison, bears and deer. What amazed me was how strong these simple but evocative drawings were and how they would have been right at home in a contemporary art space as in a cave painted some 15000 years ago. From this I drew my logo (shown above) as the outline of a bison and registered both the name and the image. As a consequence if you turn over any Bison piece you'll see our logo stamped on the underside. The result of these early books was that I craved the idea of adventure and exploring which in turn led me to my studies. The logo and the name (Bison) are a nod to both the past interests I had and a gesture to the future where I hope to create forms as timeless as the images etched on the walls in Altamira. 

(Prehistoric cave image courtesy of Wikipedia. Bison Logo copyright and created by Brian Tunks). 

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