New Friends

One of the very first things that I did when I moved the studio to Cornwall was to join the Cornwall ceramics and Glass Group.  It seemed to me to be really important to be involved with what is happening locally when I am no longer working in a large group studio with all the benefits that come with being part of a close knit team.  Having joined I signed up for a masterclass with Richard Phethean.  I was eager to meet other members of the group and to try and make some new friends.

In a way it was an odd event for me to sign up for.  Richard works in Terra Cotta, I use porcelain.  He throws, I build by hand.  He decorates with slips, I do not. His work is completely different, stunningly beautiful and fabulously exciting.

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Richard makes thrown, altered and thrown pieces in terra cotta.

Yet I am confident in my belief that you always learn something from demonstrations exhibitions and visits even if you think there is no connection between your practice and the one on show and I was certainly not disappointed by this day.  Richard shared a number of his tricks of the trade during the day, including tips on joining, cutting on an angle and application of slip each of which got me thinking about what I do in terms of joining and cutting.  Why don’t I alter my pieces?  What would happen if I fired my work to a different temperature?  How about making slips and washes from my found materials and applying them to the surfaces of my work?  And if I do, what would it look like if I combined the tricks shown by Richard for using newsprint to mask areas off with the tricks that I was taught by Annie Turner?  One day I definitely think I need to start cutting into my work and overlapping things.

 

But it was some of his more ‘general’ remarks which will stay with me, two of which struck a particular chord.

 

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Slip decoration using newsprint masking.

 

When he was talking about the way that his work changes and develops over time he said that ‘you know when you are getting tired with it because you can’t be bothered to open the kiln.’  That very morning I had popped into the studio to collect something and walked straight past the kiln without opening it.  I suspect that it is time for a shift!

Later, when he was summing up, he began to talk about the need to walk through the world with your eyes open and of having the freedom to follow a path.  He described how visual stimuli tend to ‘go in through your head and out through your hands’.  I like that.  I just hope that my work reflects it.

 

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For sale – I now have my very own piece.

The entire day was fascinating and I even bought my very own Richard Phethean piece home with me as a prompt for all the things it made me think about.

 

I think membership of the group is going to be a really good experience for me.  I am hugely looking forward to the next masterclass, which features The Japanese artist Taja who makes hand built porcelain pieces, from which I anticipate gaining more insight into the way others think about their practice.   Oh and I would also like to thank the lovely man who shared his lunch with me when I discovered that I had left my sandwiches lying on the kitchen work surface at home!

 

On the Road Again.

It is the story of my adult life.  When I know the way around the supermarket, when I can confidently navigate the back roads it is Time.  Time to get the boxes out and say my goodbyes.  My daughter was only seven when she suggested to me that we were Travellers, although, given her creative imagination she was probably already referring to time travellers!

This move is a strange one in that it is very piecemeal.  First we packed up the house and put everything in store.  Then we started creating the house that we will move into next summer. Now I am packing the studio and taking on a temporary space at Lanhay and, whilst the new space will be bigger and cheaper and closer to the building work, I don’t like the act of moving out!  Don’t get me wrong.  I am extremely excited about going to Cornwall.  I have wanted to live there since I was about ten and this is a dream coming true. But Wimbledon!  I feel this is where I have come of age.

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Regina at work on our studio.

 

It is almost exactly four years since my lovely friend Regina suggested that we should share a space at Wimbledon.  This was pre diploma.  My work was amateur and I was completely unsure of what I was doing.

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My work was amateur!

Regina, on the other hand was a skilled thrower who knew precisely how.  Four years on and so much has happened.  I have completed the Course at City Lit and what an experience that was!  If I had not had a space at Wimbledon to practice and develop, the diploma would have been virtually impossible!  Since then, I have had about 20 months of flying solo – Regina left for pastures new and, without the rigour of formal study , I have been developing my practice, honing my skills and getting ‘out there’ at shows and in galleries.

 

And always, in the background, a supportive group of ‘proper’ artists to whom I could turn for advice and support.  We have had great discussions about my work and theirs, they have helped me with my first approaches to galleries, we have held each other tightly when things were tough, we have talked over the kettle about everything under the sun and I have really appreciated their company.

This week I have dismantled my studio in preparation for moving out on Saturday and everything is one chaotic mess.

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The studio is in Chaos!

Well I can cope with that.  But what is more difficult to bear is the metaphoric drawing out of the tent pegs.  The hearing of conversations in the corridor about a future that I will not be part of.  The knowledge, which comes with experience of so many moves, that it is time to let go and get out fast – no fuss, no drama, just gone!

 

I hate this part!

And so I am stalling!  Not really going at all!  Having my cake and eating it!  Making in Cornwall but hanging on by my finger nails in Wimbledon. Thanks to the wonderful Louise Diggle I have a small corner of a studio in Wimbledon in which to lurk.  Somewhere to talk to clients and discuss my work.

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Somewhere to talk to clients.

Maybe even take part in the future of WAS.  I realise that I won’t belong properly and I am aware of how hard that will be but I just can’t quite let go so, Cornwall, here I come but in Wimbledon. . . . . I’m still standing!