Wimbledon Open Studios is almost over – this is the last day. My legs ache, I have spent the last 3 days eating rubbish food and repeating my explanation of my work over and over and over again but oh my goodness, I have had so much fun.
I made the decision to make during the show for a number of reasons. I have found it much easier to chat to people when I am also manipulating a piece of clay and people seem to have been more willing to come in when there is something for them to watch.
It has given me plenty to do and lots to say. Not only that but I am on target to complete the current group of test pieces for what I am calling my ‘Poldark Project’ – exploring the mineral rich spoil heaps of Cornwall within the delicate fragile environment of thin porcelain. I think I can safely say it has been a successful experiment.
Undoubtedly the best thing about the event has been peoples’ response to seeing first the outside and then, as they draw nearer, the interior of my new work. The word which has escaped from their lips most frequently – WOW! People seem to love the idea of the story told in the piece, the relationship of fragile porcelain to found clay and the link to the imagery on the interior. I have made several sales and I am confident of a number of commissions as a result of discussions with home movers and extenders; the bereaved and the loved; relatives of loved ones with imminent significant birthdays and people with a special place in their hearts. I think I might just be on to a winner here.
So this week, my thanks go to my daughter for pointing me back towards the fragile work I love so much and for feeding me smoked haddock and poached egg when I most needed it, my sister for setting me off on this particular trail, Fred Gatley for showing me how exciting polished porcelain could be, Jonquil Williamson for helping me rearrange my studio so that people wanted to come in, Louise Diggle for pouring Cava into my glass and the rich and varied landscape of this beautiful isle which I am happy to call my home . – Teamwork is everything!
There has been a bit of a party atmosphere at the studios this week. Many more artists have been in on a more regular basis, parking has become more and more difficult, the sounds of sweeping, hammering and moving things round have been audible everywhere. The communal kettle has been pressed into such heavy use that it has finally given up the ghost! It is time to prepare for the biannual invasion of visitors which we all seem to love and fear in equal measure.
We love it because it is so great to welcome people into the workspace and chat about our work. The feedback that you get from talking to people is invaluable for future development. We also love it for the contacts which are made during these four days; galleries; commission opportunities; ideas for future collaboration; and of course we love it because we can sell our work!
We fear it because it means a lot of upheaval, it means exposing yourself in all your artistic vulnerability and it is absolutely exhausting!
This time Regina, the other half of studio 403, is away and so I have to go it alone. I have very mixed emotions about this. I shall miss Regina’s company and support and a great many people will miss admiring her amazingly small and intricate thrown work. On the other hand I am ashamed to admit that I have taken over her space with little of a backward glance! I have moved everything around, elbowed her out of my way and spread to cover the entire studio. Sorry Regina! Come back soon!
So now I have a gallery side to my studio and a working side and I shall be sitting in the space working on some current commissions when people come to visit. This is a bit of an experiment. In the past I have felt that it may be a bit off putting to have me sitting doing nothing when people come past. I think there are those who do not come in because they might have to engage with me – perish the thought! So this time I shall be occupying myself but at the same time, more than happy to chat if people would like me to. They might come in, but on the other hand, I share the corridor with, to name but a few, Hazel Mountford whose paintings of wildlife are frankly incredible, Louise Diggle – I love her little paintings – they are more than landscapes, I prefer to describe the as vignettes of life, Sue Kitsch, who makes the most fabulous cards to order for special occasions and Andrew Horrod, whose sensitive paintings wow me every time I wander in to ask him something. With such a degree of choice there is a risk that people will think I am ignoring them and walk on by.
What ever happens next week, I hope that a vast crowd will visit Blue Studios at Wimbledon. They will be in for a very special treat!