Rubbing Shoulders with the Future Greats!

Last autumn I was lucky enough to be invited to exhibit at the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair.  It was a fantastic weekend and whilst it didn’t lead directly to me making my fortune it did open up other opportunities for me, one of which was my recent invitation to become a member of the Design Factory as an emerging maker.  This, in turn is leading on to other things.  But this blog is not about me.

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My stand at the GNCCF

One of the people who was exhibiting close to me was a lovely young lady called Hannah Tounsend.  It was not the first time that I had met her, she had been at the New Designers exhibition in the summer and I had also seen her work in the British Ceramics Biennial at Stoke on Trent on my way to Manchester.  Both times her work had struck me as different and exciting.  We stood side by side over the weekend in Manchester and I mused on the possibility, if I sold a lot of my work, of owning one of hers.  This is so often the temptation – to spend my hard won cash on other ceramics rather than food!  Sadly, this time, I resisted the temptation and came away empty handed. This might have been a mistake!

 

Unsurprisingly, Hannah went on to win Fresh.  Then yesterday my new copy of Ceramic Review landed with a thump on the door mat.  At the first opportunity I curled up in a chair with it and a coffee to indulge in my favourite activity of flicking through to prioritise the order of my in depth reading later in the month; it always makes me think of opening a box of chocolates and lining them up with the fudge at the front of the line and the strawberry creams at the other end.  This time I was stopped in my tracks by one article: There she is again, smiling out from the pages of an article on Ones to Watch, cradling one of her large, atmospheric pieces and definitely going places!

Hannah’s work combines throwing and hand building to create large porcelain pieces which have a fabulous printed surface inspired by the cliffs and coastline of Britain. Her pieces are strikingly beautiful.

This girl is making such a splash with her wonderfully fresh vessels that she actually appears twice in this edition of Ceramic Review; there is a short article on her in the CPA news section of the magazine as well.  I think I missed a trick in Manchester and my advice to collectors is to grab a piece of this girl’s work before she is too expensive.  After all, another article which I need to read properly this month talks of a Lucie Rie piece which was bought in 1975 for £36.00 and has just made £32,000.00 at auction!

Go Hannah!

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Hannah Tounsend is definitely going places!

Life on The Road

I have become a travelling salesperson!  I am currently exhibiting at the Great Northern Contemporary Crafts Fair.  I have been invited to the old Granada TV studio in Manchester for the weekend as what is described as an emerging maker – I feel a bit like a moth struggling from my chrysalis!  I am surrounded by the pick of the makers who graduated in the summer and who were with me at New Designers at the Business Design Centre in Islington during June; illustrious company; the award winners; the successful Hothouse graduates; the Fresh exhibitors from the British Ceramics Biennial. I am feeling very humble and rather excited.

Among new friends are the people who’s work is in closest proximity to mine:  Nicola Lillie‘s jewellery is stunning and very contemporary.  She was highlighted as one to watch at New Designers and is one of the award winners here in Manchester. She will go far!

Hannah Tounsend is another close neighbour; I remember her striking ceramics from New Designers and I saw them again at the British Ceramics Biennial, along with the work of another neighbour, Eva Radulova,  in Stoke on Trent on my way to Manchester on Thursday.  I did not realise that Hannah also makes prints which are very beautiful.  So who was it who said ‘Do one thing and Do it well?’  It seems that the energy and creativity of youth can overcome that!

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I love talking about my work but can I really cope with the pressure of craft fairs?

I, on the other hand, do not have youth on my side!  It is the third day of standing by my work and talking about it.  Whilst I thoroughly enjoy talking about myself I am now feeling extremely tired.  I have been on my feet almost nonstop since Thursday evening.  My feet, knees and hips are complaining loudly and I am fresh out of ibuprofen!

So how has it gone?

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I know that 4 people are considering bespoke commissions.

Well, I have sold nothing so far which I find a bit depressing, but then few other people have either so that is reassuring. On the other hand I have run out of business cards and my husband has twice had to rush over to print additional copies of my artists statement because so many people have wanted to take them away, so I am not too disheartened.  In addition, I know that at least 4 people have taken away the paperwork which I produced about commissioning a bespoke piece so I am hopeful of someone coming back to me at a later date with a specific request.  I am told, by people here who should know, that the trend over the last couple of years has been for potential customers to collect all the information that they want and then to go home, mull over what they have seen and get in touch via email at a later date; the savvy, twenty-first century art buyer!

In addition, I am excited to be here and I have had some fantastic conversations with other makers and also with students who have been looking around a few years further back down the line from me and from schools in the local area.  By far the best bit about being here is the opportunity it provides for talking to people who have expressed an interest in my work.  It doesn’t matter if they buy or not, I just like talking about my work!  – it gives me the oxygen to attract further interest later.

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I am too old to stand for 3 days!

On the other hand, in the dim and distant past of year one of the City Lit ceramics diploma, we were told to consider what sort of maker we were and where our work would sell.  I think it is true to say that I probably make for galleries and exhibitions, not for craft fairs.  No-one in their right mind is going to want to carry most of my work home from a fair – The packaging I can supply here has to come from the small space behind the stands.  It is just about adequate.  It does not look pretty and it is unwieldy.  You would need a car to get my pieces home and most people have arrived by coach.  They want small packages to take home on their laps.  So after today, as I lie soaking in my hot bath, there will be a very serious discussion with myself about whether craft fairs really are my thing.