Just An Ordinary Market Town

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.

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NCCD, Sleaford.
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 Parsons151228-found-in-the-woodlands-1med-307x400[1]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!

You Have Arrived At Your Destination.

I spent a very happy day at Klaylondon this week enjoying the space and chatting to the lovely people who dropped in to admire the work in the gallery.  I think the gallery is looking amazing and it seems as if people are now beginning to talk about it and seek it out.  I have it on good authority that we sold a remarkable amount yesterday, but I digress.

The point of this blog is to dwell for a moment on where one thinks one is going as an artist and whether you ever actually get there.

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The Gallery is looking great.
Whilst I was enjoying the gallery a number of people came in specifically because they had spotted one of my pieces in the window and wanted a closer look.  In conversation with one of my fellow artists she told me that she thought it was clear that I had arrived; I knew what I was making; I had a great USP and all was going extremely well for me.  I was flattered!  I puffed myself up and preened my feathers and sat there for a moment basking in the compliment of a fellow artist.

 

On reflection though I realised how wrong she was.  It may be true that I have found a way of working which is new and exciting.  I may be making work which really pleases me and which gains a few compliments now and then. But arrived?  I don’t think that ever happens does it?  In the March/April issue of Ceramic Review There is an interview with David Westcott.  He talks about how every firing includes some new tests and describes the opening of the kiln as ‘still like Christmas Day’ because of that feeling of the unknown and the frisson of excitement.  Hail David!

I know what my friend meant. She was talking about the fact that I seem to know where I am going and here she does have a point.  I do seem to have found an exciting way of expressing my interest in the landscape which is new and different and which I am thoroughly enjoying.  On top of which, people appear to like my work, which is always a good thing!

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First finished piece from my Cornish Mining project.

Indeed, when I opened the kiln last night and discovered the first finished piece for my mining project had fired even better than I could have hoped, I did get that lovely sense of having ‘got there’.  But it is not so much that I have arrived, more that I now thing I know where I am going.  This way of making works for me.  However, as the interview with David concludes, ‘If you think you have made the perfect pop, you may as well give up.’

 

I haven’t! I am not about to! And I am delighted to report that every time I open the kiln is going to feel like Christmas for a very long time to come!