I am about to embark on another collaborative venture. More details will follow but suffice to say that I am going to be working with other makers on a project which is going to involve me taking the way they work: their colours and textures and incorporating them into a body of work for a joint exhibition this autumn. I am truly excited to have been presented with the opportunity and, given the pleasure that the collaboration with Candide Turner Bridger and Nigel Slater gave me for the recent Earthlines exhibition, I know that it could result in some great work.
But, and it is a big BUT, I also know that I now have a whole lot of sleepless nights coming in the next couple of weeks. All my best ideas happen in the middle of the night, usually at about 3 am. The initial electrical surge is followed by a protracted process of going over and over the finer detail and sleep becomes utterly impossible. There is little point in getting up and beginning to make as the whole thing has to ‘cook’ for a while first. Sometimes a walk helps – so the puppy is on standby for some strange night-time excursions – but, please, if you have any dealings with me in the next week or so, do not expect much in the way of quick witted repartee!
I have been suffering a considerable level of Pot Anxiety in recent weeks. This is the state of stress which keeps ceramicists from their beds in the middle of the night because an idea hits or a problem resolution crystallises. At which point there is nothing to be done except to get up – sleep will elude you until the offending thought has been dealt with. The current bout of trouble stems from having rather a lot on and some difficulty knowing how to get 4 firings through the kiln before I head up to London in preparation for the exhibition at The Fountain Gallery which starts on 16th of this month.
At 4:00 in the morning there are few cars on the roads in Cornwall and, as I drove the couple of miles to my current studio to swap pots and glaze things in the dark, I really felt that the world belonged to me alone.
On the return journey I tuned into BBC Radio 4 and discovered that I had woken early on the perfect day. It was International Dawn Chorus day! The song birds that the BBC was recording were fantastic but imagine my confusion when I stopped the car, turned off the engine, got out and still the music played! The birds of Cornwall were all up and about and heralding the morning with gusto.
I could have gone back to bed but that would have been a crime against nature. Instead I brewed a mug of tea, pushed my feet into my walking boots and set off through the woods to the little stone quay at the bottom of the hill. Through the woods the pale green canopy was still not fully out and the path was fringed with blue bells, red campion, wild garlic and with a late narcissus and an early foxglove or two completing the spectrum. The birds were giving it everything they had got – it was truly magnificent.
By the time I reached the water’s edge the tide was just beginning to ebb – sucking at the stones on the slip way as it crept back out to sea. The surface of the river was as flat as a mill pond. You couldn’t really make out the colours because the light was so gentle but I could see a couple of small boats hunched over their moorings and, in the houses opposite, there was not a single sign of life.
The chorus was diminishing now as the song birds all went off in search of their breakfast but the rooks and the oyster catchers were in full swing, it was a beautiful morning and a joy to be alive. I tried to record the sounds but technology defeated me and anyway, I was being far to self indulgent to try for long so here is the BBC podcast from early on International Dawn Chorus Day. If you don’t have the patience to listen to the whole thing I commend the last twenty minutes to you. You will not regret it!