Weeks and weeks of apparent brain ache are about to be over. I have the distinct feeling that part of my problem since the beginning of this final semester has been my attitude to my tutors. I had practically made up my mind – and so, I think had they – that the road to the decision on what to make for the final work was likely to be fairly tortuous and so, as is the nature of a self fulfilling prophesy, it has proved to be just that! All the time, the answer has actually been staring me in the face. I have been gaily making and making but I have made the fundamental error of telling my tutors that I didn’t know what I was doing. I really should know better! I know perfectly well from being on the “other side of the desk”, as a teacher for many years, that if a child says they don’t get it or cant do it, they don’t! They cant! And the teacher believes them! But if you say to a child ‘yes, you can, I know you can’, they find that it is suddenly so much easier than they thought. Its all about attitude. Because my tutors have been asking me things such as ‘So are we going to have the same tortuous route as usual?’ that is precisely what I have been presenting them with. Timely reminder to self – never, ever, for any reason, be negative with a child who is vulnerable – it will end in tears!
So, just in case anyone is the least bit interested in the aching of my potty mind, I am creating an eclectic range of work for the final show. It is based loosely on my love of Cornwall and my fascination with relationships within and between objects and people. I have not decided yet how it will be exhibited, that will depend on how it speaks to me as the body of work develops. I shall use local materials, mud larking finds and natural glaze materials. I shall make and then abuse moulds and my work will reflect my thoughts. The way it develops will depend on how I am feeling and the ideas that strike me and, no, I am not the least bit concerned that nothing is finished yet – the best is clearly yet to come.
A number of weeks ago I took part in my first ‘proper’ exhibition. ArtRooms at the Melia White House Hotel near Great Portman Street in London, see link . It was a very interesting experience to unpick it afterwards. The weekend was hugely flattering to my ego but it left both my wallet and my feet in a state of exhaustion. I spent the entire weekend in a hotel corridor talking to people about my work, I made it to a number of reviews by name and lots of people said very nice things. I didn’t sell a single thing though and it cost me a fair amount to be there. I didn’t mind because I saw it as oxygen and hoped it might lead on to other more exciting prospects. And it has! This week I have been approached by two curators inviting me to take part in forthcoming exhibitions. Wow! What’s not to like?
The thing is though, how do you know? Obviously I cannot afford to keep going to exhibitions simply to massage my ego. Financially that does not put bread on the table – it doesn’t even put clay in the kiln! These exhibitions would make me an international artist – one is in Turin, the other in Tokyo!! But I cannot afford to go to either, and anyway, how on earth can you tell whether an exhibition is going to be the right setting for your work. I think this is one of the hardest things that I have to face as I approach the end of my diploma. I sort of know where my art is going creatively but I have very little idea of where and how to put it ‘out there’.
On a simpler note, I can happily report that a couple of days of mud-larking in Falmouth during the lowest tides of the year has given me a fabulous selection of artefacts, some of which are already finding their way into or onto some of my ceramics for the final semester.
All this is a lot of fun! It gives me permission to spend time clambering around on the shores of Cornish estuaries and feeling mildly insane – something which I find quite energizing. Back in college the results are showing some promise although they are so think that nothing has dried enough to fire yet so I am not confident of success. Oh, and I seem to have blotted my copybook at college by having such a good time – I got kept late on Friday because I had not done enough work!!! Now I just need to work out melting temperatures, shrinkage rates, joining techniques and finishing methods and I will have a piece that someone might pay me to transport to Tokyo!