Time to Chill and Catch up on the Reading

There have been some lazy days this week – a combination of post Christmas lethargy, overeating and a serious case of man-flue causing my darling husband to occupying most of the liveable space we currently have.  In the end I decided joining him under the duvet was the easiest option.  The great plus point here was that I have been able to catch up on some reading.  A friend  lent me a whole stack of back issues of Ceramic Review a while ago and I have finally got round to enjoying them.  How very different to today’s glossy features!  It has been lovely to get stuck into some quite academic articles about such things as Terra Sigilata and some really interesting profiles of the likes of John Higgins.

Work by John Higgins: image by Beveregallery.com

What a great artist!  I love his sculptural pieces with their fabulous dry decoration using slips, oxides and  on-glazes and curved shapes.  I also feel an affinity to them given their makers love of digging about in waste pits!

In the same edition I also found an article by Jenny Beavan about geological forces and the link between ceramic art and human existence.  Fascinating!  In it she talks about the work of Joseph Beuys and his views on the interaction between science, art, nature and society and of Peter Voulkos who’s work reflects the violence of geological forces and she included some of her own work, which has long fascinated and enthralled me and a long section about Satoru Hoshino.

Jenny Beavan: image: http://www.studiopottery.co.uk


But one of the artists was a name that I did not recognise, Jacques Kaufmann, and I feel compelled to investigate him further.  There is no excuse for not knowing of this man.  He is only the current President of the International Academy of Ceramics!

Jacques Kaufmann: www.waba-co.com


I am intrigued by his interest in the relationship of human origins and geological processes and I want to know more!  First impressions are that his work is rather controlled and yet I found a piece by him which seems bely this thought.  It reads: ‘The question of the legitimacy of forms is recurrent in my work. One of my hypotheses is to think that all energy put into a material, first in an intuitive way, than fully structured as one goes along, is the generating principle of the work. In order to achieve this goal, my gestures are simple and accurate and are generated by the material itself. What is at stake is that the form is invented as a concrete experience of a relationship. For me, the imaginary is originated in the material, in its qualities and in its poetical energy. I belong to a line of artists who questions the limits: those of the materials as well as those of the cultures I meet’.  I can relate to that!  Beavan talks about how Kaufmann’s work begins with a ‘letting go, a relaxation of the will.’  Now that seems like a great idea.  So often I find myself fighting with myself over the making of a piece.  There is this tension with wanting something perfect which is not perfect.  It isn’t easy and it can’t happen if I am tense.  So beginning with a letting go would be a fabulous idea.  Maybe it’s time to take up yoga!




Hard Hats, please.

It has been a while since I checked in on the work being done on our new home and so I was really excited when I arrived yesterday to find that, despite the apparent devastation, the corner of my studio has already been mapped out: particularly as it seems as though I might have space to get my friends round for making days – the space is about 4 times as large as the half studio which I began with only five years ago when I shared with Regina and we each squeezed into our part of a small space at Wimbledon.  Whilst I had seen it on the plans and knew how large it would be, now it is actually appearing on the ground this new space feels as if it is going to be sheer luxury!

Its going to be sheer luxury!


Possibly even more exciting was the activity around the other side of the house.  We had rather expected that the crumbly shale close to the road extended down the hill and that, when we knocked down the existing terrace to make way for our bedrooms on the lower ground floor, we would have a major underpinning job to do.  So it was with huge relief (and much cheerful patting of our wallet) that we discovered that the builders had dug straight into wonderful, glutinous, golden yellow clay.  Not only does this make to construction of the extension easier – apparently this is really good for building on – but I can hardly wait to get making now: my very own clay pit!  It seems we need a large scale geological map of this place so we can find out exactly where the change occurs.


My very own claypit

Of course I was always going to create something from whatever came out of our foundations.  After all, that is what I do.  But now the opportunities are immense.  Whilst I am not sure that I can make enough use of this clay to solve the issue of removing a few tonnes of material around (and away from) the site, I have been spent most of the night dreaming  of the experiments that I can do and the pieces which I can make from Watersmeet clay.


And as for landfill: well we have been drawing up plans to use as much as we can within our boundaries so watch out for a series of terraces and steps to get around different areas of the garden in order to enjoy our amazing view from various different angles.

Where can we put all this subsoil?



Invitations to come and stay in Cornwall for making weeks will be forthcoming ‘drekly’!