Playing Catch-up

sold1I seem to have had the best of all problems recently – I do not have very much to put on the shelves at Klay and almost nothing at all for the Open Studios which starts on 10th November because I have sold so much work over the past few weeks.  This is a wonderful feeling in some ways but it does leave me with a problem!

I should be in the studio every day at the moment frantically making so that I can put something on the shelves.  Somehow that seems to miss the point of what I am trying to do though.  I want, more than anything, to enjoy my making.  I want to have time to experiment, to hone my skills and to learn new things.  So it really does not suit me to be having to work hard.  I am sure that it would suit my bank balance, mind you!

Actually it is worse than that because if I feel that I should be making it puts me off and I don’t want to do it at all.  So here I sit finding all kinds of excuses for not getting anything done and just letting the clock tick quietly on.

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Nothing looking very ready at the moment!

 

 

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Experimenting with monoprinting

That said, I have been getting a bit of experimenting done and here is lots of stuff wrapped in plastic which is half made and I do have a bisque firing on at the moment which will hopefully yield a few good pieces but finished work, ready to sell off the shelf is going to be in short supply in November!

 

So I have decided that I am going to do something completely different this autumn.  I have been making a number of pieces for Tregony recently and I know that they have sold at least one so this time I am going to make no bones about my activities over the four days that the studio doors are open.  I shall have my hands in the clay and, in tune with Poldark Series 2, I will be continuing to create more of my Cornish Mining pieces.  I am looking forward to showing people how I work and I can always give my hands a quick rub if anyone wants to take a closer look at the work that I do have ready to sell or to make notes for anyone who is after that very personal piece which reminds them of a time or place which is special to them.

You Have Arrived At Your Destination.

I spent a very happy day at Klaylondon this week enjoying the space and chatting to the lovely people who dropped in to admire the work in the gallery.  I think the gallery is looking amazing and it seems as if people are now beginning to talk about it and seek it out.  I have it on good authority that we sold a remarkable amount yesterday, but I digress.

The point of this blog is to dwell for a moment on where one thinks one is going as an artist and whether you ever actually get there.

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The Gallery is looking great.

Whilst I was enjoying the gallery a number of people came in specifically because they had spotted one of my pieces in the window and wanted a closer look.  In conversation with one of my fellow artists she told me that she thought it was clear that I had arrived; I knew what I was making; I had a great USP and all was going extremely well for me.  I was flattered!  I puffed myself up and preened my feathers and sat there for a moment basking in the compliment of a fellow artist.

 

On reflection though I realised how wrong she was.  It may be true that I have found a way of working which is new and exciting.  I may be making work which really pleases me and which gains a few compliments now and then. But arrived?  I don’t think that ever happens does it?  In the March/April issue of Ceramic Review There is an interview with David Westcott.  He talks about how every firing includes some new tests and describes the opening of the kiln as ‘still like Christmas Day’ because of that feeling of the unknown and the frisson of excitement.  Hail David!

I know what my friend meant. She was talking about the fact that I seem to know where I am going and here she does have a point.  I do seem to have found an exciting way of expressing my interest in the landscape which is new and different and which I am thoroughly enjoying.  On top of which, people appear to like my work, which is always a good thing!

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First finished piece from my Cornish Mining project.

Indeed, when I opened the kiln last night and discovered the first finished piece for my mining project had fired even better than I could have hoped, I did get that lovely sense of having ‘got there’.  But it is not so much that I have arrived, more that I now thing I know where I am going.  This way of making works for me.  However, as the interview with David concludes, ‘If you think you have made the perfect pop, you may as well give up.’

 

I haven’t! I am not about to! And I am delighted to report that every time I open the kiln is going to feel like Christmas for a very long time to come!

Wow 2.

This is the weekend for catching my breath, reflecting what has been going on and getting the studio back into a workspace rather than a gallery space.  At last I have almost all my work back in my possession, well the unsold work that is.  I just have to nip down to Guildford on Thursday and collect the work which has been in the No Naked Walls Gallery for a while.  Sadly the gallery does not seem to be the right place for me and despite proprietor, Sharon’s, best efforts my work isn’t selling there and I think it is time for a parting of the ways.  So I want to consider the successes and less good points about the last few weeks.

From the downside, I did not take a single commission at the Open Studios.  This was a surprise.  Loads of people expressed a lot of interest and I had hoped that this might have been one of the major successes of the weekend but no-one wanted to sign up there and then.  I wonder what that was all about.

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Nobody seems willing to pay £75:00 for an envelope

Was it to do with people needing to go away, consult and think before coming back to me with their idea or was my idea for a deposit too expensive or clumsy?

 

For £75:00 I was inviting people to buy an envelope containing instructions, a contract, a small bag for their soil/clay sample and a memory stick for their maps, plans and images.  Clearly I need to rethink this a bit but I still believe the concept is a good one; personalised gifts which record a special time or place for ever. I wonder what I should do to boost the idea and translate it into sales. Indeed, others must be in agreement with me to some extent because I have 2 commissions at the moment.

On the positive side, I now have work in at least one archive: Battersea Art Station bought one of my pieces; I have completed one commission to the complete satisfaction of the client; I have sold a number of pieces, including a considerable quantity of older work which I am really pleased about as it means that I can have my studio looking more as if I know where I am going.  I have also sold a number of my new pieces, which is even more exciting!

I am feeling very fired up by my project in Cornwall.  I have a name for it, the Poldark Project, but I am not giving anything else away too early.

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The early beginnings of my Poldark Project.

 

In addition, I’m sorry, I just can’t help myself, may I have just one teeny weeny boast?  I was really excited to get a piece into the Ceramics Open Exhibition at Salisbury but imagine my amazement when I discovered that I was joint winner of the vote from the visitors for the piece they liked most.  No number of sales or interest from galleries compares with that as an endorsement of my ideas.  Thank you all very much.  I feel extremely humbled by your choice.

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Fiona Cassidy welcomes everyone to the private view at Salisbury Arts Centre Contemporary Ceramics Open 2015.

Wow!

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.

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Whilst one completed piece sits in pride of place another is growing steadily out of its former throughout the weekend.

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.

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Test pieces lining up on the window sill ready for firing.

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!

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My Cricklade vessel. When I took it out of the cabinet and put it on a plinth everyone was asking if they could stroke it – the power of polished porcelain!