I make no apology for including a mass of links and no images in this blog. The thinking being that you all just need to go and see for yourselves!
I have had a lovely time this week. I have enjoyed my daughter’s dress rehearsal with the lovely Pindrop quartet, I have lunched at the Royal Academy (with said daughter), I have visited the spring exhibition at Erskine Hall and Coe where I especially loved the work of Sarah Flynn and Elizabeth Fritsch , I went to the book launch in Kew of a dear friend’s first novel (Congratulations to Mike Thexton for the Magistrate’s Son – available from other bookshops as well!) and last but by no means least, I have been at Ceramic Art London, the highlight of the contemporary ceramics calendar in the UK.
Ceramic Art London was a veritable feast of talks and stands showing gorgeous work by talented makers who, without exception, are happy to talk about techniques, ideas, glazes, skills – you name it, they are willing to share. I have to say, the generosity of spirit shown by people who work in clay is greater than in any other walk of life that I come into contact with. I picked up cards from many stands, especially enjoying the work of Rachel Wood – for her delicious surface decoration, Chris Taylor – for his use of colour and decals, Chris Keenan – for being Chris Keenan! and Megan Rowden for her delicious surface texture and alternative firing techniques and I went to a number of talks.
The talks, and I only managed three of the 15 on offer, gave me a lifetimes inspiration. So here are just a few tidbits to scatter into the wind for those unfortunate enough to have missed this great show:
From Stephanie Buttle – ‘The need to push the clay to its absolute limits’, ‘If your life is off balance, where does that energy go?’ ‘You need a platform. Without one, it remains inside your head.’
From Stuart Carey who set up The Kiln Rooms in London – The need to be able to bounce ideas around with other people when one is in the early stages of your career but the need also for a ‘Fortress of solitude’, the fact that ceramics is on the crest of a wave and we all have a responsibility ‘to get it out there; to talk about it; write about it; discuss our work.’ He had good advice about setting prices for ones work: About not underselling oneself; about watching out for (and avoiding) the ‘holes in the market’. The impact of ‘The London Effect’, especially for new artists and the need to maintain the very highest quality in everything we do.
From the wonderful Kate Malone – about the flow of ideas (and glazes); about how her vast source of reference material is full of things which ‘hits her subconscious and moves her inner soul; about ‘the sense of a world in a pot’; about the ‘creative alphabet’ of the artist which is such that, whenever you see it, it just rings a bell somewhere and you draw on it time and time again; about the use of the kiln as a tool rather than a useful hot place, the very thought that for one project you might make 15 000 pieces using 5 different clays and 4 different glazes and fill 600 IKEA boxes in the process!
Possibly the two things I shall try to hold onto most are:
- The idea of brinkmanship when making. Not sure who said it but I am sure it is essential that one pushes everything to the limits.
- It’s about hands, about fingers, about touch. (Kate Malone). Yes it is!