Friday, 29 June 2018

May in China

 When I was a child I never had any ambitions to travel. This didn't change when I became an adult. Even people who travelled on package holidays I held in high esteem as if they were a higher species.
Then my daughter emigrated and before I knew it I was applying for visas booking flights and packing my bags.
Arriving in China for my seventh visit our travel continued, we were off on the bullet train to Tianshui in Gansu province.
Our quest was to find the school where our granddaughter was found abandoned when she was just a few days old. We found the school in a poor town near Tianshui it looked particularly bleak in the torrential rain and there seemed little to do but move on.
Our next travels were to take us to some of the sights that the area is famous for.



 Visiting some of the old temples involved quite a lot of climbing. There were hundreds of gods modelled in terracotta but we weren't allowed to take photos. There was the 'blue buddha' with his blue moustash.



 Back near Xian there is a modern buddha. This is the three headed buddha.






 One thing we found is that where ever we travel children are just the same. When our granddaughters came across another child playing with bubbles they didn't wait to be asked but just joined in the fun.
 Grand temples are all very well but one of the most fascinating things in China is park life. You can spend all day there and there will be an ever changing parade of activities to entertain you. ( and of course no one minds if you join in)!
 Another wonderful thing in China is their street food. In every street and on almost every street corner there will be people cooking. This man was making pancakes and filling them with egg and vegetables before rolling them up for breakfast. These people probably do the same food every day and look really skilled and all the food looks and tastes delicious.
One last image, not a huge statue but a small one sat inside a temple garden in Xian. I think I will be taking inspiration from this, maybe a sgraffito cat.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

A good resourse

I was recently in Cardiff Museum and Art Gallery and there were some excellent pieces of studio pottery. They were from the private collection of Anita Besson. She had left

them to the Derek Williams Trust.
Although the gallery is long closed all the archives are still on line. Here is a link

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Wassail Bowls

As a child, along with every other school pupil in south Wales, I visited The National Folk Museum at St.Fagans. I visited this folk museum countless times and so it is not surprising that some of the exhibits lodged in my mind. Most powerful amongst these were the wassail bowls. These would have been made at Ewenny pottery.
These were bowls that held cider or other drink and were carried around at twelfth night.
They usually have 16 handles and can be passed around. But it is the lids that fascinated me. they are encrusted with modeled figures and numerous birds. Some have figures with farm animals, but the one above even has the husband and wife sat at the kitchen table. Quite a feat to apply the slip I would have thought!


On returning to Wales one of the first things I wanted to do was to revisit these pots. However, having rushed to St.Fagans before the removal men even delivered all our worldly belongings I found that they were not currently on display. Not to worry a few phone calls later and the museum staff got two out of store for me.
I was very delighted to get up close and personal with them without even the usual glass case between creating unwanted reflections.
I was allowed to take photos but unfortunately my PC recently died taking with it my photos! Then recently I found these photos on my phone.
The pots are quite large and very sculptural.
Here are some tiny pots I've made influenced by seeing the wassail bowls.

This is a wassail bowl I made quite recently. I haven't managed to decorate it nearly as much as the Ewenny ones as I am still quite nervous when it comes to dipping them in the slip. They have been great fun to make and I hope to make time to create some more.



Monday, 12 June 2017

China in April


This blog almost seems to be all about my trips to China. I returned to China in April to take my mother to see her granddaughter and great grand children. April in China seems to be all about the cherry blossom. The Buddist temples are set in parks and the red ribbons are peoples' prayers.
The blossom was at it's peak and there were cherry trees in parks, along motorways and lining the pavements.
People everywhere were posing to be photographed  with the blossom.

The pagoda is a famous land mark in the centre of Xian. Here we are posing ourselves the three generations of our family.


Although I had seen the terra-cotta warriors before I took my mum to see them. I was still very impressed with the sheer scale of them. The weather was beautiful and there was the most amazing number of tourists visiting. People poured in by the thousand.



Another site I revisited was the folk museum. These muscians must re-enact this performance day in and day out. It's a unique performance with someone playing a bench. The village consists of houses braught from all over China and re-erected in this village,
We had a wonderful holiday with beautiful weather which has left us with precious memories to treasure.


 PS I should mention there are wonderful antique shops with amazing pots.......

restaurants selling beautiful freshly cooked food........


Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Still working

 When it's not actually raining in Wales we get a beautiful light,especially in the evenings the light seems to bounce about and create wonderful skyscapes.
 I have been busy in the studio mostly making casseroles like this one. I enjoy doing these as there is a similarity between them and yet each one is a little different. I am always trying to invent ways to use the negative space so the resulting pot doesn't look clunky (technical word).
Back in October I decided that I needed some professional  development and contacted Joanna Howells to see if she was doing any courses.
Well a few weeks ago the course came around. I had a fabulous week-end on Joanna's course. I felt I learnt a lot and came away feeling motivated to try new things. Joanna was an excellent teacher and the four of us on the course all got individual tuition.
One of the processes Joanna demonstrated was how to make altered shapes. I have now been trying this with my own work and really enjoyed coming out of my comfort zone.



 This week, however, I have been making my signature bowls. I don't tire of doing these and I always think I can improve on the last one!
While the bowls are still on their bats I band them hence no need to centre them.
Next they get turned.
After that decorating begins. The rim gets done first as it's the first area to dry.
Following the rim I then sgraffito the design onto the bowl and then add the colour.
The fired pots look so different from those unglazed waiting for their biscuit firing. I enjoy the making process so much I've tended to neglect glazing so this week is a week of reckoning as if I don't glaze I won't have any room for more pots.