Its a Kind of Magic

Well, it has only taken me about 18 months but at last I have found the time to enjoy reading Edmund de Waal’s book The White Road.  I am glad that I have waited until the right moment as I have been able to indulge myself with soaking up de Waal’s palpable enthusiasm for the subject of porcelain without feeling rushed.

I have had the time and the peace to read most of the book whilst invigilating our exhibition at Fountain Gallery which has its final day today.  Now this says something about the number of sales and visitors to the gallery and begs questions about self invigilated shows.  (Thank goodness for Tregony Gallery which cheerfully goes on selling my work without me putting in an appearance).   But that aside, the luxury of reading a well written book about the porcelain story has been a delight.

There are three lasting impressions from reading this book.  First is the extraordinary excesses which those with money and power went to in the past.  When Augustus the Strong of Saxony died in 1733 he had a collection of 35,798 pieces of porcelain (de Waal, 2015).  Secondly of the heightened emotions which the efforts to create ‘white gold’ in Europe seemed to invoke.  The alchemists searching for the formula for creating gold from base metals and also how to make white gold spent decades working in intolerable conditions, imprisoned and forced to experiment over and over again until they struck success (de Waal 2015).  Thirdly the wonder  with which people have always perceived this material.  De Waal describes the first makings of English porcelain by William Cockworthy as an obsession;

 ” To make something so white and true and perfect, that the world around it is thrown into shadows as the blackthorn does when flowering in the hedgerows in early spring.” (de Waal, 2015, p.225).

 

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Sometimes opening the kiln really does feel like a kind of magic!

 

 

Oh my goodness, I get that one!  When I open the kiln and there it is: a crisp, thin, translucent vessel with a pure, creamy whiteness.  It is a kind of alchemy if you ask me!

The creative Vibe is alive and well.

It is wonderful what a calming effect this aquatic life is giving me.  I have managed to make a load of work this week, despite the heat in my studio, which in August is normally enough to drive me out.  It is just as well really.  The pressure on me to create was growing exponentially.  I had 4 more works to make for an exhibition in Cornwall at Tregony Gallery which starts in early September; I have a lot to do to prepare for Kew Gardens in October – it might seem ages away but I shall be in Canada throughout September; I had a commission to finish for a 70th birthday present and I need to restock my shelves at Klay London.  So a wee bit of making was always going to be a good thing.

IMG_20160804_121725However, the desire to create is also an ephemeral thing – here one minute, vanished the next so it is always a huge relief to me when I turn up at the studio and find that I can get right on with it.  The days when I seem to need to spend an hour or more on Facebook, wash the floor, tidy the shelves and still the urge to make does not come are really very difficult.  Does anyone else have this problem I wonder?

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Finished works – one a commission, one destined for Tregony Gallery
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I suddenly wanted to make big!
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Please form an orderly queue for the kiln

 

Anyway, this week I have been churning it out.  The kiln has been fired 3 times and the shelves are groaning under the weight of drying works.  Phew, what a relief!  But the best thing?  At the end of the day, covered in dust and feeling tired, I can sit on the pontoon beside the boat with a glass in my hand and my feet in the water and watch the cygnets practicing their one footed swimming – and BREATHE.

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One legged swimming will take place after a rest in the sun.