Thursday 9 September 2010

A Harbour Full of Coracles

When I was in Kendal last weekend, immersing myself in Edun Ara (a fantastic event with singing, dance and drumming, and this year part of the Lakes Alive Festival), one of the participants asked me a simple question. So you are a potter, what sort of pots do you make?

Whether it was because at that moment in time I had a head full of music and not ceramics - but I found it very hard to answer. In fact I never have had a good answer to this question. Surely it can’t be that I don’t know what I make? But somehow I still don’t know how to communicate in a concise sentence WHAT it is I make. It would be so much easier if I could simply say, ‘wood fired stoneware, blue and white tableware, or even slipcast spiders. All rather worrying at this stage in my life and my career, especially as I have been invited down to the East Anglian Potters next month to give them a presentation and demo and generally explain myself.

Maybe I just I follow my nose? This month I decided to make a baby version of the coracle dishes, perhaps with a design of one bee or fish in the middle and they were to be dinky in scale. The first thing that happened is that when the first extrusion went through it became immediately apparent that I had misjudged the scale and they weren’t Mini coracles at all, more ‘Junior’ coracles. Then as Allie and I started to get the curves working they became very boat like indeed. I started to throw a few sailors and gannets and before I knew what I had a fair harbour full!

Di and Bill Bruce from Mainhill Gallery came over last week to discuss what sort of things they would like for their exhibition ‘The Shape of Things’ next month and dropped of this smart invitation. I get the whole back page which is rather good.


  1. that is always the challenge... i usually start with not your usual suspects! it usually confounds peeps...Hope your workshop goes well...blow em away with your extrusions they're amazing christine!! :))

  2. Laura and I have the same problem. When someone asks either of us what we do we quickly become incoherent! It is not that we have nothing to say,... but it is rather that we have the opposite affliction! We had a parallel situation recently when someone asked us if we did much reading. Laura reads all the time..., it is quite rare to find her without a book perched somewhere about her person. I have been known to read a bit too... and more than just "a bit", but when we were asked, our minds turned to watery mush and we felt stupid... particularly as the person that asked us went on to talk about the Russian novels that he reads! Maybe we should feel oddly superior when we are lost for words... and suspicious of people who can sum up their work in neat, well rehearsed sentences!
    Our pottery or painting is an expression of who we are.., I personally like someone with a bit of depth and complexity! Anyway, as usual I warble on far too long, but I also want to add how "yummy" those boats are that you have made, complete with their gannets and sailors! "yummy".., of course, is completely inadequate as a description so I will conclude with a happy face :)

  3. I absolutely love the man in the boat with the telescope and Gannet. Might that be good for a certain exhibition around Christmas time?!

    Z xx

  4. The coracles are fabulous - they look so sturdy and wholesome, somehow, and are at the same time amusing - they bring a smile to one's face!

  5. I love the idea of 'feeling oddly superior when we are lost for words", thank you Peter, I will remember that one.

    Oh, and well spotted, Zoe...

  6. What sort of pots?!! You say, ' an artist! I don't just do pots!' then sweep grandly off!

    I usually ask if the potter/artist has a website so I can see for myself what sort of work they do. It always amazes me, being a writer what potters can do. Everybody writes... even if not everybody writes well, so writing is largely common or garden (or indoors in the warm in my case!). But potters have this gift of making fabulous things come out of the clay... and just when you're gasping in amazement... they go and glaze them as well!!! More wonderment!

    The gannets remind me of Jeremy James' crows a bit. I love his stuff, especially his hares.

  7. Christine these are amazing!! You never cease to wow me.