In April we visited our daughter in China. It was a real adventure travelling around and staying with friends.
We stayed with a family in the country and Mark couldn't resist the opportunity to help them in the fields. They have recently taken out their orchard and are replanting it with peach trees.
After a day in the fields they offered to take us out to the local town. Knowing they don't have a car we wondered how this could be done but not to worry the three wheeled motor bike and cart below seated 7 adults and 2 small children!! We all hopped in with our tiny stools and off we set.
The weather was warm and the country side looked idyllic but we know life is tough for our friends in the winter. All the households had these wonderful carts and many were still using them.
You can see the village in the distance. The houses are built in the traditional way with rooms opening off a central court yard from the outside all you can see are these large doors. The main room is both bedroom and lounge and has a kang which is a brick built bed which can be heated with a fire in winter.I was fascinated to spend time in the kitchen watching them make noodles which they cook on a wood burning stove.
We went to a village school where my daughter and son-in-law teach English. Just to add some fun to the class we took along some clay and the children made little thumb pots.
We couldn't find many pottery related trips but the main museum in Xi'an has a wonderful collection. They have the most wonderful tri-coloured horses.
We visited this market that did sell loads of pots. Unfortunately I didn't take many photos.The tiny shops were crammed with pots of every sort mostly celedon glazed pots but I don't know where they were made.
As most people in the city live in high rise apartments the parks are a very important and busy places. You never know whats going to be going on.It could be ballroom dancing, sword waving, Chinese opera and of course it's all going on at the same time.
You can also get your hair cut!
Now it's time to get back to work in earnest. I need to get plenty of pots ready for the summer festivals.
Here I am in the studio just to show that I am actually still here. I think at this point I was wondering what words to write on the bowls. I'm always trying to think of interesting lyrics that will be familiar to people. Suggestions welcomed!
These are some of the bowls out of the kiln this week. I've done three glaze firings back to back to try to catch up.
The bowls below are some I've just done to find a shape that is good for decorating inside and out. I haven't done many of these yet but I am going tp pursue the idea for a while.
I'm off to China next week and feeling very excited-just five more sleeps-if anyone knows of any pottery related venues in Xian (apart from the terracotta warriors ) do let me know.
Near the end of last year we were on a car journey to take our son shopping.It was cold and wintry and my passenger window misted up. I cleared a small 'window' to watch the world speed by. There were green fields, tracery of twigs on trees, a magpie on the back of a sheep. In an instant I flashed back to journeys I had taken as a child. My father had worked for British Rail and so we often took trips on the steam train. They too had misted up and I would clear a little 'window' to watch the world speed by. Backyards, hills and rivers all flew past.The recollection was so clear that it took me by surprise and made me wonder where all those years had gone. Suddenly over 50 years seemed to have gone in a heart beat. Soon the moment was gone but it left me thinking of how precious time is and I started to think about things I still want to achieve and accomplish and where my priorities lie.
Within a few weeks of that journey my father died. He had Parkinson's and it was as if all our efforts to hold onto him failed. Parkinson's finally overpowered us. There was another powerful reminder of how precious time is. Time to be together, time to enjoy life time to appreciate and celebrate our ability to be creative. So I am still busy making and enjoying time with family and friends. In just a few weeks I will be travelling to China to spend time with my daughter, son-in-law and granddaughter. My dad was a very lovely man, kind and generous and always appreciative. We spent much of our time together laughing - good things to remember and be thankful for.
I expect that by now everybody has seem the field of poppies at the Tower of London. They have made a moving impression on people. At the end of my road is a school for children with learning disabilities. They too wanted to make a connection with the project and that's where they contacted me to help make and fire the ceramic poppies. It's not a very large school so every pupil was able to get involved. At first I wondered if they could get anything out of the project, after all it didn't seem very creative. However, I am surprised just how much it impacted the school as teachers,staff and even the caretaker all got involved.
They obviously don't have the impact of the ones at the Tower of London but for each young person they had meaning and impact on an individual level as they made a connection. They were all ready just in time to be set out on Tuesday the 11th of November.
We've recently arrived home from China after a wonderful visit see to our daughter. China is so full of amazing sights, sounds and smells it would be difficult in a short blog to write about it. However, here is a glimpse of some of the things we did during our stay. The scene above is the corner of the street where my daughter lives. Expensive shiny new cars run side by side with these 'carriages'.
There seemed to be a market around every street corner. Markets for everything. There was the vegetable market, the fabric market, the antiques market etc. all teeming with colour and life.
Some streets were full of people making street food. It all looked delicious. Even the most basic 'kitchen' seemed to be producing mouth watering foods.
Park life takes on a new meaning in China. Partly because people don't have individual gardens but also because people love to do things communally. The local park was alive until late a night with people singing. dancing doing tai chi selling goods and all sorts of other activities.
This park had a whole cast of sculptures of opera singers.I like the way this little chap wanted to get in on the action.
People just seemed to rock up in the park with a ghetto blaster and start dancing or come with a whole ensemble of friends to play and sing.
We travelled out to the countryside to walk up into the mountains. It was the most beautiful, magical place but the footpath only consisted of a very rough path of boulders.We were quite surprised to find a community living near the beginning of our walk. Latter when we had walked quite some way we were even more surprised to find more homes, though I'm not sure who was more surprised, us or the folk who lived in such a remote place.
Another trip we did was to Fuping Pottery Village. There were some huge galleries there unlike anything I've seen before. I didn't see any kilns and only one potter making coiled pots.
Having driven all the way to the south of France earlier in the year to see Jean Nicholas Gerrard's work imagine my surprise to find he'd been to Fuping before me.
Granddaughter Isabella enjoys her very first walk in the gallery.
Here we are being very touristy in yet another park. I could go on but I think you get the picture!