Sleaford: a market town on the edge of the Lincolnshire fens;somwhere between Grantham, Boston and Lincoln with a population of about 18,000 and, from my limited experience, the worst traffic system in UK!
Important fact: Sleaford is now the home of the National Centre for Craft and Design within an old seed factory on Navigation Wharf.
It is this fact that meant I was in Sleaford on Friday. I have the good fortune to have been selected by the Design Factory,which is based in the building, as one of their Emerging Makers. On Friday I made the trip to visit the centre and to chat about the direction in which my work is going. It was extremely helpful to be able to voice some of my ideas and to have feedback on how things are developing – much food for thought! It was also good to look in their shop and to see the work of other artists, Kate Welton for example, whom I had the pleasure of exhibiting alongside at Great Northern Contemporary Crafts Fair, and who is also an Emerging Maker.
I had no idea that this was such an impressive set up. In addition to the shop there is a lovely looking café, several workshop spaces and a number of fabulous exhibition spaces which, coincidentally, currently comprise two ceramics exhibitions. Alphabet Aerobics by Anton Alvarez challenges the preconceptions of making, craft and design. Alvarez is not a ceramic artist but here he is making use of clay to explore and redefine the role of the artist in the creative process. The results are strangely beautiful and the space they are currently occupying only serves to enhance this.
Up on the top floor in Sleaford is the work of Kathryn Parsons. Her exhibition, Found in the Field is inspired by the poems of John Clare and comprises tiny, exquisite porcelain works. I could have spent hours in their company!
So come on, friends, the deep recesses of Lincolnshire are certainly worthy of a trip, but might I suggest that you leave your car at home and go by train!