Seasonal Greetings

Art, Ceramics

I’m rather behind on my posts, which I was attempting to do weekly, but Things Happened. Including the death and funeral of a dear friend. But the Uni term has finished, carols have been sung and will be sung again, I fitted in a raku firing yesterday, and before I go out into the blustery grey drizzle I must write…

Where to start? Have I mentioned that I’ve taken up life drawing again? I am so resistant to drawing that I’ve only just got round to attending the (free to all students) weekly sessions in Bath, after several years. But I’m determined to get a good grade this year, and if that necessitates doing all the things I’m resistant to (like using new technology) then so be it.

Serendipitously, the day of my first class I had a poem published online, an old one called From Life, which uses the metaphor of life drawing to describe a confusing almost-relationship. [If you’re interested, you can find it here] Somehow that gave me confidence. I was amazed with my drawings – considerably better than I was managing five years ago in my Art foundation course. Very tiring, huge concentration required, but worth keeping on with; so I went the following week too, and will continue next term. The model is fantastic too.

I also made more large(ish) pots, using crank clay and also white St Thomas, which handles quite differently. The first ones have now been bisque fired, and I’ve put them on the shelf for stoneware reduction firing next.

Some of the head-masks were modified (eg sand-blasting – great fun!) and fired in various ways, including a couple using the raku method. Now I have to decide which techniques and styles to focus on next term for the Graduate Show work. Two tutorials gave me quite different advice, so I have a lot to think about over the holidays, and plan.

Here are a few pictures to illustrate the range of my recent work.


bisque fired hand built pots in crank clay; waiting for stoneware reduction firing next


new large pot with oxides and Mendip mud hand prints


new large pot with Mendip mud and slip (different building style)


one head-mask slipped and sandblasted; the other with oxides, slip and reduction firing


head-mask raku fired


I love the crazing you sometimes get with raku…


Little Gritty God raku-fired. Love this one. I’m keeping it!



Qwaypurlake, and surfaces

Art, Ceramics, Exhibition

Two topics to report on this time – the Hauser & Wirth Bruton exhibition Qwaypurlake and my latest experiments in the studio, plus group crit feedback. Let’s start with my visit to the gallery, for a Director-led tour on Saturday 28th November.

The young Assistant Director Lucy MacDonald took us through both exhibitions – the other is a Don McCullin retrospective – pointing out particular exhibits and filling us in on the background to the shows as well as particular pieces. After the tour I just had time to go round for a second look before the gallery closed. The information sheets are also very useful to get more context – and context is needed. This is Contemporary Art. You need to know what the ideas behind each piece or the collection as a whole are about, otherwise you will definitely wonder why beautiful delicate Hans Coper vessels are displayed in the same show as a lump of Bruton clay or some half-burnt candles in the shape of ox bones.

This is H&W Bruton’s first group show, curated by local (Frome) artist Simon Morrissey, and with a title which references the historical landscape of this town. Quaperlake Street is the road to Frome from Bruton, but Simon has re-imagined the Somerset landscape after speculative fiction, creating eerie narratives from the juxtaposition of photographs, sculpture and installations. I was particularly interested in the work of Heather and Ivan Morison, their use of a wide range of materials, the way they are displayed, and the titles of their pieces suggesting an unknown story.

As to my own work, I wasn’t shot down in flames at the Group Crit, but was clearly told I need to start focusing on surfaces and textures for my heads. They seemed to like the new work – large coil-built pots after Sarah Purvey, with oxides and white slip scraped over the exterior.

I have discovered we have a sandblaster in a corner of the kiln room, and had an induction at the end of last week, so I’m looking forward to playing with its possibilities. Also I’ve been ‘drawing’ – a thing I avoid as much as possible due to frustration and anxiety – so far mainly with ink, brush and stick. I have told everyone, including myself, that I’m going to the life drawing sessions on Wednesday afternoons. Scary stuff, but I have to make myself do it. It’s so much easier to be the model…

So here are a couple of the Morisons’ previous works I found, and images of my new pots.


A text piece by Heather and Ivan Morison, 2010. Reminds me of one of my poems.


‘Anna’ by Heather and Ivan Morison, 2012, at Hepworth Wakefield. They displayed a similar ‘egg’ at H&W Bruton with a different title.


large coiled pot after Sarah Purvey, via Linda Starkey… with oxide and slip surface


large coiled pot after Sarah Purvey, via Linda Starkey… with oxide and slip surface