I Went to a Marvellous Party . . .

Amazing work by Jong Jin Park
Kyra Cane’s work has a beautiful subtlety to colour and tone.

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Drift Net, Annie Turner: A wonderful example of a unique style in ceramics.
Well, it was actually an exhibition: Ceramic Art London at the Royal College of Arts in Kensington.  It is one of the great annual showcases of ceramic art in London every year with eighty makers selected from across the world and it is always a fantastic place to see what is new and listen to some useful hints and tips in the various lectures taking place.  So, what is new?  I was particularly intrigued by the work of Jong Jin Park who is a relative newcomer on the scene.  He makes use of paper and clay slips, just as I do, but he works in a very different way and his work is certainly different.  I was amazed to hear that he does not create the final shapes until he cuts into the piece after having fired it to 1300C.  I cannot wait to try that! In fact, seeing Jong Jin’s work and then spending quite a while chatting to Robert Cooper about his work, other peoples work and then, rather less significantly as far as the exhibition goes, my own work might well have set me on the course for my final semester.  Thank Heavens I hear you cry, no more heart searching then!  Robert was selling well at the exhibition, which was great to see – I certainly think he deserves to!  It was also wonderful to see that another of my tutors, Annie Turner, had been presented with the Emanuel Cooper Prize.  That was a fantastic choice.  Annie’s work is certainly different; fragile, coiled pieces which are about being rooted.  It resonates with me on so many levels and it is great to see her skill being given recognition. I was also drawn to Kyra Canes wonderfully evocative work.  Once again I was touched by the generosity of the artists who I talked to.  I do not know of any other world in which the experts would be so willing to share their own special tips with a newcomer.  It never ceases to amaze me and to fill me with joy that my chosen medium is peopled with such kind and open people.  The discovery program lectures which I attended were a fine example of this with Derek Wilson telling us all kinds of experiences and pitfalls which, for a mere beginner, seemed invaluable.

All in all this was a great day and if I came away with one important message it was the need for a group of pieces to work together.  All those exhibiting had taken a considerable amount of care to present a coherent exhibition which worked in terms of colour, groupings and the level of variety.  So now I need to take that on board, throw away the rubbish and start making an exhibition rather than a bunch of experiments.  No more excuses, Macklin!

Emotional leakage . . .

Emotional leakage: not-waving-but-drowning[1]That is why I am an artist I suppose.  It allows me to grasp all the powerful emotions, which would otherwise leave me exhausted and wrung out, and turn them into something which carries different messages to different people but for me is somehow exciting and reinvigorating, sometimes at the most unlikely of times.

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Fred Gatley from the exhibition Artists in Search of a Landscape at the APT Gallery in Deptford in 2014
I love studying at City Lit.  So much so that if anything goes wrong with it I feel doubly betrayed.  Once because it hasn’t lived up to my expectations and once because I feel personally bereft.  This week there was a minor glitch in the proceedings and, coupled with a whole raft of other stuff which was going on, I hit the buffers!  In actual fact it was a wonderful week.  A tiny comment from one of my tutors sparked an exciting trail of thought which, along with everything else that happened, had sown the seed for some exciting developments in my work, although it was much later that night when I realised it.  I met the amazing Fred Gatley who generously gave me a couple of hours sitting on the floor of his office, looking at his work, discussing his ceramic journey, comparing notes and making me feel like an equal – Oh I wish!   He didn’t see me leave, which is just as well because people in their fifties should not be observed skipping along the street!

The day then got progressively worse!  One thing after another tipped me further and further towards the downward surge.  There is only so much of a roller coaster that my mind can accommodate and so, eventually, when my phone rang to inform me of the next crisis, I began to leak: Quietly, inexplicably, all over the show!  And so it was, that at 2:00 the following morning all these things came together and I discovered a little idea growing unstoppably inside me.  In fact it was a passing comment from Fred which nudged the seed Robert Cooper had sown earlier into germination. Later that morning I scuttled to the studio and started making tears – they have a way to go but these are intended to be treasured things of true beauty – watch this space: – – – -So this blog in is honour of all the ups and downs we endure and in praise of tears.

Tears: some take a while to come but all should be treasured.
Tears: some take a while to come but all should be treasured.