We went out to China before Christmas to visit my daughter who lives in Xi'an. We had a wonderful time and returned in time for Christmas. ( You may be pleased to hear that the coat didn't make it back I thought it best to leave it in China). We did many excursions and ate a huge range of Chinese food, visited plush, luxurious hotels and villages living in traditional Chinese style which probably hasn't changed for hundreds of years.
However, there was not much of pottery interest. There was of course the terra-cotta warriors. There certainly were armies of them and they were definitely impressive.
There was Xi'an's pottery museum. Xi'an was once China's capital and the beginning of the silk route. The museum was amazing with it's wonderful tri-coloured horses and beautiful carved celadon vases. But, of course, best of all was spending time with my daughter and her husband. Mark and my middle son Toby also came so there was much laughter and fun. I have hundreds of photos so I might just post a few more at some stage.
You may be forgiven if you think I have retired as I've posted so little recently. But no, I've been steadily potting away. All the work tops in the studio are crowded with pots waiting to go to Farnham. Tomorrow we set up in The Maltings ready for the week-end festival. Check out this link to see who's exhibiting and whats on. Life has been very busy with a challenging number of 'things' to sort.( Cars needing attention, central heating breaking down, visas to be applied for. You get the picture). I like to be able to concentrate on the pottery and really give it all my attention so the last few weeks have been too full of distractions. But somehow I feel that I have managed to keep working and retain a sense of humour.
It was half-term last week so I headed to Wales to visit my parents. Whilst there I visited the gallery in Carmarthen.http://www.orielmyrddingallery.co.uk/ The exhibition last week was the Jerwood Makers Open.One of the exhibitors was William Shannon who had set himself the brief to create a workshop for an imaginary potter. Just the mention of pottery had me hooked. The accompanying programme said that this imaginary potter 'has limited resources (as potters tend to).' The outcome was delightful and I'm sure some of us might like a pocket sized raku studio. Glenn Adamson ( Head of Research at the V and A) who wrote the accompanying essay, suggests that the experiment is 'entirely absurd, or at least symbolic...Symbolically, it is a miniature temple to self-reliance. In practice he could never have made it without the support of the Jerwood Maker's Open'. To some extent I can see his point. William had made tiles for the exterior of the studio by raku firing tiles. On that scale a slow process. After all if you want individually hand made hung tiles you go to my friend at Babylon Tile Works. Just see the rows of tiles he produces below. However, I found it quite encouraging to think that people are looking at the idea of producing from locally sourced materials and being self-sufficient. I was tempted to start 'playing ' with the tools and materials but I don't think it was meant to be inter-active.
I take 'The World of Interiors' magazine. In one of the issues it had mentioned an antique shop that shows Welsh pottery. That was enough for me - I was off in search of Tim Bowen Antiques. I was not disappointed. He had a wonderful collection of slipware from Buckley. I think it's joyful, lively and fresh looking. So simple yet with it's treacle, honey and amber colours warm and practical. Of course the use of script on it is also of interest to me. Tomorrow I'm off to hear a talk by Alison Britton at The Crafts Study Centre in Farnham. On the one hand I feel I cann't afford to take any time off work but I also feel I need to get out of the studio every now and again and expose myself to other influences.
Here are some pictures of a commission I delivered last week. When I was first asked to do a bowl with a greenhouse and very specific plants at first I thought it was too difficult. But then I thought I should give it a try, partly because I know how much pleasure it gives to people to have something made specifically for them. I had to be quite focused because if I spend too much time working on these there is no profit in making them. I hope I've got the balance right.
At the week-end we were at a festival of pottery and food in Wardlow Mires, Derbyshire. The idea was that potters producing domestic ware should show it alongside food producers. The combination made for a very enjoyable week-end. We interspersed the selling of pots with sampling the wares of the food producers. There was also a stall exhibiting Brampton Pottery. This was salt glazed ware produced by a consortium of potteries in the Chesterfield area I think produced in the 18th century. Josie Walter wrote a small book about them and you can find much of the text here. I was delighted to see the pots as I've only seen them in Josie's books before.They are quite exuberant with lots of sprigging.
Did I mention that as well as Brampton pots I share a name with a brewery? There was a stall selling Brampton beer but I won't tell you if I sampled that as well as the food.
I've dashed out quickly this morning to take these pictures as my son wanted to borrow my camera. It was so pleasant in the gardenthe September light was soft and surprisingly for the time of year the garden was still looking good.
I've been busy working for some weeks with very little break so I rewarded myself with a new book. The post man always comes about lunch time and earlier in the week he brought Linda Bloomfield's book on colour in glazes. He was just in time for me to look through it whilst having lunch. I think I want to experiment with more colour now!!
The book below is about Jean-Nicholas Gerard a French potter and arrived a few weeks ago. I am enthralled by it. My photos really don't do the book justice. The book shows the pots at various stages of making and also on show in galleries but the bit I find inspiring is seeing the pots in use. It looks so much fun having food out of hand made pots with real character. It makes me think that good food can only taste better out of these vessels.
I have plenty of work I should be doing. I have been busy in the pottery each day but I had planned to get some water colour painting done in the evenings. But I heard the phrase 'match box art' somewhere in the blogsphere and made these little boxes. I've been putting one in with my husband's sandwiches now and again. They are meant to distract him in his busy work day. I put things like chocolates, tea bags, jokes and other things similar to a Christmas cracker in them. They don't really cost anything so it's just a bit of fun. I'm not sure who's been more distracted him or me!
Another distraction has been trying to find an easy and quick way to make photo 'mosaics'. You know something the computer illiterate can do in three seconds and it looks like a professional did it. I've also been trying to take photographs of my work as I need some up-to-date ones. That's something else I'd like to do in a few minutes and it look as though Jan Baldwin or Jonathan Lovekin took them. I'm working very industriously in the pottery getting things ready for the Pottery and Food Festival at Wardlow Mires. I may have mentioned all ready I'm looking forward to the food part. One of the exhibitors there is Robin Wood , a green woodworker, and I am looking forward to seeing his work. Check out his site it's full of interesting articles.
I recently bought a copy of Ceramic Review. I hadn't meant to buy it any more but I saw the heading on the front Narrative and Text and of course I didn't resist.
Although not all my pots have text on them most of them do. It is a very slow process but I think it is a very important element in my work. I know the main reason I use it is because I find it very decorative. It's an element that adds rhythm and texture to the pot. I have always liked hand writing and the way different pens create totally different results. (But that's a whole different subject)
I also enjoy thinking about what words will go around the pots. Sometimes they are just decorative but mostly they relate to the pictures I draw.
The bowl with the birds was one a series that came out of the kiln last week. One interesting aspect of writing on the pots is that at fairs people will stand and read all the pots. People may not always buy the pots but they seem to enjoy reading them.
One of the articles in Ceramics Review was about Carys Davies' work. You can read more about her work on her blog. Interestingly she too is Welsh. I am wondering what sort of response I would get if I put some writing in Welsh on my work!
The weather has been blissful today and we've spent most of the day relaxing in the garden. Althought the garden has been neglected this year and the slugs have feasted relentlessly the garden still looked pleasant.
I've been thinking of making a range of work that is quicker to produce and would work well for everyday use. The shallow bowls above are the result so far. The bowl at the bottom of this post was a test piece I fired first to see what I thought would work. The rim is cobalt oxide and the peas are copper oxide. Having got that far I decide they needed more colour and splashed a dash of blue underglaze across. I was pleased with the dash of colour and then proceed to glaze the next eight bowls.
However, I was so keen to get the glazing done I completely forgot the splash of blue! Mark says he prefers them without the blue ( is he just being polite?)
I was prompted to do something a bit different for the next pottery festival as it's all about domestic ware and food. You can check it out here. It's in beautiful Derbyshire and I'm all ready looking forward to the food part.
The two bowls below are commissions for weddings. These are just quick shots I took to send to the people who commissioned them. The pots generally get sent straight to the couple they are for. I hope they liked them!
We've recently had time off for a holiday. The first week we visited places within easy reach of home. One of the places we visited was the Weald and Downland Folk Museum in West Sussex. They have rebuilt buildings to create a medieval village. Many of the houses are filled with reproduction copies of original medieval artifacts like these pots. I don't know who the potter was unfortunately but they looked good in their authentic settings. What the photos don't show is that every school within a five mile radius must have been having their school trip to the centre that day!
The second week we travelled to West Wales and stayed in this farmhouse. It was just as though we had moved into the museum I don't know which was more authentic. The little chap below was a regular visitor to the farmhouse and even followed us when we went for walks. The farmhouse was somewhere north of St. Davids which is one of our favourite parts of the country.
I'm back at work now but it always seems slow starting again. This little jug is one I use every day to make my coffee in so I have been making these again. Although it seems a long way off at the moment I am all ready thinking of Farnham and Art in Clay in November. Which reminds me that Andy and Di Mcinnes have developed a facebook page for Art in Clay. It's crammed full of photos of pots so set aside an hour ( or two) and browse through.
We are still in holiday mode. We went to Brighton on Sunday. A shop window was full of old sewing machines. I couldn't decide if it looked retro in a good way or if it just looked like a strange graveyard for sewing machines. It was actually a clothing shop. Brighton Pavilion is by far a more familiar landmark in Brighton.
Today we visited the Contemporary Ceramics gallery and the British Museum. Around the museum they had 'handling stations' where you could handle some of the museums collections. They had a piece of a reliquary. The photo below doesn't do it justice because it looked so fresh and vibrant. There is also a picture of a complete reliquary from one of their galleries. Finally there is a very jolly medieval pot. I like the little face on the side.