Saturday 23 October 2010

An Interesting Experience and a Special Birthday

Back from East Anglia and an interesting trip and quite an experience it was too. It was indeed a long drive, taking eight hours to get down, but no mishaps (such as squashed dish lengths). When I arrived at Mundford on the Sunday morning I did momentarily gulp to see that Rodger hadn’t been joking, I really was to be mic-ed up with a screen on the back wall, projecting a giant image of the proceedings. Given that I could have either been like a frightened rabbit or just get on with it, I went with taking a deep breath and just getting on with it! (Not much choice really).

It must have looked quite comical as I needed a helper to hold each leg of the table to which I had G clamped the Big blue extruder. There were one or two mishaps, such as I managed to put one of the die plates on upside down so that instead of a hollow pipe, my handle fell into two bits. Then I didn’t spend long enough wedging the clay so it was full of air bubbles and one of my handles split, and I didn’t make enough spares. However, to be fair it mainly went well, and the timing, which was probably the bit I found it most hard to judge seemed to work out. By lunch break I had managed to throw, bend and slump the dishes and extrude the coracles, leaving the afternoon for assembling. I did feel more relaxed as the day went on, as I had the sense that the audience was interested and everyone was exceedingly nice and helpful. It felt very strange to be ‘clapped’!

As I packed up I had to sign the wheel which I felt was a bit of a cheat seeing as I had only thrown a sailor and a gannet, and the other signatories were huge throwers such as Nick Collins!

I was told later that a lot of other demonstrators bring a helper, I can see now that this would have been useful. It was the little things, like not having time to clear before the next stage, which I found tricky, so I kept losing tools, and often had to ask the audience if they had seen something. Also I hadn’t taken on board that I might be selling work. Felicity kindly sorted this side out for me as there was no way I could handle it.

On the way home I stayed over at Oskar’s where he and Rachel had a very large whisky ready for me. (Don’t worry. it’s not a habit, but it was a welcome dram that evening).

I decided to meander home and just enjoy my outing, so on the way home I called in at Jim Robison’s Booth House Gallery, hoping there might be some of his 70 at 70 show still remaining. Indeed a lot had gone, but it was still on and it was a treat to be shown round his woodland walk. The trees which he and Liz had planted when they first moved there, and were once dwarfed by the pots, have grown into a wood which is now the setting for a collection of Jim’s wonderful large ceramic sculptures. In some of the latest pieces he has incorporated chunks of thick glass, which create a kind of iridescent ‘stopper’ or crown. All very exciting and inspirational. (Sorry I didn’t have a camera).

I then called in at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park where there is an exhibition of David Nash.

Already blown away by the scale of Jim’s pieces, I stood in awe, humbled and moved in the presence of these towering pieces of wood.

I got back to Rodger and Inigo busy insulating the workshop floor. Rodger had been told by his consultant that he in no way to grub around under the floor boards, so Inigo instead was (not) enjoying the experience of feeling ‘like a Chilean miner’.

It should help as at present the boards rest on a stone dyke with air blowing through. Loft insulation is the next thing, Inigo and I will have to toss for that one.

It was a very special birthday yesterday. Rodger's new stem cells were one year old. We had a toast with champagne to them, and to his anonymous French donor.


  1. oh what a challenge setting up a portable studio...glad you got in sync in the arvo, i think peeps just appreciate a glimpse into your work the applause was well earned!!;)

  2. Congratulations to you for doing the demonstration in East Anglia and to Rodgers new Stem Cells for their first birthday! Enjoyed your post (and the ones before that I have been catching up on just now). A useful thought that of taking an assistant, and I can see what a good idea that would be. All those clearing up and setting out tasks do take a time, no matter how fast one is trying to go..., and clay preparation in front of a crowd is no fun at all! I have had a few mad scrambles here with the odd group of people that have come through our door and I have offered to show them a pot being made on the wheel. Usually I find that a stubborn and unlovely lump of clay presents itself, and I am going all colours of the red spectrum trying to speed wedge it in front of people... hoping that it is alright to sweat publicly in a confined space!!

    Those large (huge) wooden sculptures are impressive. I particularly like the two in the photo that are standing near a hedge, and both have a dark split up the front.

    I think floor insulation is what we need to do before next winter here!! Good luck with it, and the ceiling!

  3. Happy First Birthday to Roger's Stem Cells!

    Your demo sounded fantastic.

    Z xx