Last autumn I was lucky enough to be invited to exhibit at the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair. It was a fantastic weekend and whilst it didn’t lead directly to me making my fortune it did open up other opportunities for me, one of which was my recent invitation to become a member of the Design Factory as an emerging maker. This, in turn is leading on to other things. But this blog is not about me.
One of the people who was exhibiting close to me was a lovely young lady called Hannah Tounsend. It was not the first time that I had met her, she had been at the New Designers exhibition in the summer and I had also seen her work in the British Ceramics Biennial at Stoke on Trent on my way to Manchester. Both times her work had struck me as different and exciting. We stood side by side over the weekend in Manchester and I mused on the possibility, if I sold a lot of my work, of owning one of hers. This is so often the temptation – to spend my hard won cash on other ceramics rather than food! Sadly, this time, I resisted the temptation and came away empty handed. This might have been a mistake!
Unsurprisingly, Hannah went on to win Fresh. Then yesterday my new copy of Ceramic Review landed with a thump on the door mat. At the first opportunity I curled up in a chair with it and a coffee to indulge in my favourite activity of flicking through to prioritise the order of my in depth reading later in the month; it always makes me think of opening a box of chocolates and lining them up with the fudge at the front of the line and the strawberry creams at the other end. This time I was stopped in my tracks by one article: There she is again, smiling out from the pages of an article on Ones to Watch, cradling one of her large, atmospheric pieces and definitely going places!
Hannah’s work combines throwing and hand building to create large porcelain pieces which have a fabulous printed surface inspired by the cliffs and coastline of Britain. Her pieces are strikingly beautiful.
This girl is making such a splash with her wonderfully fresh vessels that she actually appears twice in this edition of Ceramic Review; there is a short article on her in the CPA news section of the magazine as well. I think I missed a trick in Manchester and my advice to collectors is to grab a piece of this girl’s work before she is too expensive. After all, another article which I need to read properly this month talks of a Lucie Rie piece which was bought in 1975 for £36.00 and has just made £32,000.00 at auction!
Last weekend I was privileged to take part in the Battersea Art Station exhibition, the inspiration for which was the new development at Battersea Power Station. I have never seen so many paintings of those iconic chimneys as I did when I visited the show on the Saturday!
Delivering my work was exciting. I have not had to queue to hand over my art before but here I joined a long trail which snaked along a landing and down the rather impressive staircase of the Arts Centre to await my turn for the big handover. By the time I reached the front of the line I was feeling rather pompous; how important must I be to be joining such illustrious company! ‘So,’ I asked in my chattiest, “Oh this is all perfectly natural to me” voice, ‘What are the arrangements for the Private View?’ I confess that I was a bit taken aback by the response. It turned out that this exhibition was not for the glory of the artists at all. No free prosecco and canapé for me! Oh no, this, it turned out, was for the benefit of those who have committed to living or working on the new development. What a remarkable idea – an exhibition of art where the focus was on people who might like to buy art! The private view was for them to have the opportunity to look around and buy a reminder of the history of the site. So that put me well and truly in my place!
It felt strange to hand over my work for someone else to curate it. I said a tender farewell to my treasures, still cosseted in their bubble wrap (what did we do before that stuff was invented), with no idea how they might be presented. As I entered the exhibition on the Saturday morning I was a bit put out to discover that one of my pieces was apparently just ‘dumped’ with quite a lot of clutter around it on the table at the top of the stairs. However, before I could grumble to my husband, he pointed to the little red dot on the card inside it. Sold! Whilst I wasn’t even there!!
At the end of the weekend I returned to fetch the second of my pieces, which had not sold. With amazement I discovered that the first piece had been bought by the organisers of the development who want it for their archive. So I am over the moon to be able to report that I now have my first ceramic piece in a London collection. Where and when it will be on show I have no idea but I am terrifically excited to know that my vessel was considered to be a useful reference for the power station, after all, that is what my pieces are meant to do; tell a story. So I think I can safely say that this time I got something right.