Sorry, I am at it again. This time poor old Mark Twain is getting misquoted but not without just cause if you ask me. You see I have been out and about collecting mud again, this time in a torrential rainstorm, and the residents of a small, respectable town in Devon are probably expressing grave concerns!
This all started because I have been invited to be the featured artist in an exhibition called Escape by The Hybrid Gallery in Honiton this summer. I am excited by this opportunity and thought it would be sensible to begin my making by making a visit to see the space.
I remember Honiton. We used to have to drive through it on our way to visit grandparents in Torquay. Then we lay sardine fashion in the back of our Morris Traveller estate, watching the lights and the telegraph poles swoop by on seemingly endless journeys. Now you flash past on the bypass with children firmly strapped into child seats.
Then it was famous for lace and there was a pottery in the town employing quite a number of people making slipcast functional ware. Now many of the shops are gift or good food orientated and there is a Pottery Café on the site of the old pottery which hosts parties where you can decorate pre-fired wares whilst sipping smoothies and tucking into a panini.
It was years since I had visited the town and the rain on this particular day was not at all conducive to sight seeing but Honiton is a true gem! Having had a bit of a look around I squelched my way to the public library where a quick search of the local history section revealed that the original pottery had, for many years, made use of a seam of clay running behind the workshop. That was all the invitation I needed!
I was off – scampering up the main street and leaping puddles like the sure favorite in the National. Lo and behold the house beside the pottery was having building work done and so, swathed in my sodden jacket and dripping with rain clutching trowel and zip lock bags in my damp, little hand, I knocked at the door. Just then a young lad came round the corner of the house. His expression on hearing my request was one of mild shock and incredulity but he agreed to my request and so, before he could call for men with straight jackets, I was down on my knees. Three sandwich bags later (and, some would say, several short of a picnic) I was back at the car with my trophies and ready to start making.