Exhibition Preparation

Art, Ceramics, Exhibition

On Saturday I went over to Frome for a ‘business meeting’ at Viv’s house and studio. Lots to sort out – from choosing the work to show and where to display it, to label fonts and pricing, and arranging the Private View.

We’ve decided to invite people over for tea, coffee, cakes etc on Saturday morning, July 6th, 11.00-1.00. Our venue (No 16, ‘Watermeadows’) will be open 11-5 on Saturday and Sunday 5th and 6th, also Fri-Sun 12-14th, although I may not be around much for the second weekend as I have a lot of other commitments – singing.

Meanwhile here is a pic to whet your appetite, I hope…


large pot, craft crank stoneware, decoration in white slip and cave mud. H24, C29cm

March Update

Art, Ceramics, Exhibition

I have just been proofreading my entry in the Frome Open Studios Guide, and I must say the whole event is looking very exciting. Quite a few ceramicists, so my inner critic (a particularly fierce beast) is already wondering how my work will measure up to that of ‘professional’ potters/artists… Oh come on Jo, believe in yourself for once!

Fortunately I have lovely artist friends who encourage me, including Linda Starkey in Yeovil, and I have just signed up for her evening course starting in April to get the ball rolling in making some new work. I will mainly be showing already existing work in Frome in July.

But before then is the day workshop in linocut printing at ACEarts in Somerton. April 1st, to be precise. No jokes please…


Art, Ceramics, Exhibition

Time to get my blog up and running again – I have an exhibition coming up!

I have been accepted for the Frome Open Studios this July in a joint exhibition with my friend Viv Meadows, who lives there. We met at Bath Spa University on our degree courses, we mature students gravitating towards each other at shared lectures. She volunteers at
Black Swan Arts in Frome, and is currently working in print, as well as continuing her drawing and painting practice.

I will be showing some of my stoneware ceramics, but in a burst of enthusiasm coinciding with the first signs of Spring, I have just signed up for a lino print day course at ACEarts in Somerton (where I also volunteer, and model for life drawing classes).

Watch this space for further updates.


Sage head at RUH

Art, Ceramics, Exhibition

Last week I took a friend for her six-monthly trip to the pain management clinic at Royal United Hospital, Bath. I had the opportunity to visit my piece Sage which was in the Fusion exhibition last summer, and to check it had survived the winter OK.

It’s situated in one of the courtyard gardens – in Area D of the hospital if you happen to go there – and still looks good. The sage plant is growing and the ceramic head hasn’t developed any cracks, so all good. Nice to see the signposting is still up too.

The piece still officially belongs to me, but I’m happy for it to stay there and be seen, and hopefully appreciated, by staff, patients and visitors.

My next post should contain images from the Degree Show which starts with a Private View this Friday evening – and I’ve been very busy the last few days preparing the space, moving and setting up the work, and helping out where and when I can. Looking good. My work will be in glass cabinets in a darkened room…

Meanwhile here’s how Sage is looking now.


‘Sage’ head in situ at RUH, courtyard in area D


Closer view of ‘Sage’ head, info from Fusion exhibition still next to it




Art, Ceramics, Exhibition

It’s that nerve-wracking time of year when the art students are being assessed. Everyone has to clear out their studios, which are repainted and set up course by course, year by year, for the tutors and outside examiners to scrutinise our best endeavours, with relevant Supporting Work.

We cleared out from one campus last week, and can set up for our Final Assessment (gulp) from this Thursday, at another campus. All to be finished by a week tomorrow. Then it’s nail-biting time, and finally the hectic rush to get our Degree Show ready – back at the first campus.

I brought all my work home, having an estate car, so my family have had to endure boxes all over the living room and pots set up on the dining table in various different configurations. My bed is currently host to several large files and strewn with loose papers. Artist statement… self-evaluation… reflective journal…

Today I’ve been editing the ‘pages’ of this blog/website – if you go to ‘Ceramics Gallery’ you’ll see some reasonable studio photographs of my recent work, and as I’ve signed up for the 3rd year poetry course next year (to finally finish this degree) I updated the ‘Poetry’ page too. Although I’ve not had much time for poetry these last few months…

Reminder –  the Degree Show Private View is Friday June 10th 6-8pm, at Sion Hill Campus, BSU. Do come along if you’re anywhere near Bath! The show continues until Sun 19th, which just happens to be my birthday, so I might well invite friends over for a picnic in the grounds or something.

Better give you a pic. This is a configuration of footprints I won’t be using, but shows you how gorgeously mud from caves in the Mendips fires onto porcelain. And yes, they are my footprints. It was fun.

mud from Cutler's Green and Welshes Green caves, fired onto porcelain

mud from Cutler’s Green and Welshes Green caves, fired onto porcelain

Encouragement, Serendipity, and a minor disaster

Art, Ceramics, Exhibition

My last post was a bit of a wobble after the Formative Assessment feedback, but I’m starting this one with an encouraging tutorial. It seems my current work is on the right track and my ‘studio practice’ grade is rising as my skills improve with concentrated making. I’m focusing on coiling pots, shapes inspired by bronze age and other early pottery, and using the clay and mud from Mendip caves as glazes onto these pots, and  onto porcelain in the form of hand and foot prints. I’m still doing test firings of raw clay onto porcelain tiles at different temperatures, but they may not go into the final show now. I’m narrowing down my field of enquiry at last. Countdown to Final Assessment and degree show!

The serendipity was due to being the right person in the right place for an opportunity that I’d previously been too stressed to take up. Another student came into the studio, where I was working alone as it’s the Easter break and only 3rd years and MA students are allowed in. She asked if I had any work I’d like to show in a curated exhibition – they are a group of curatorial practice students putting it on – as they were really short of 3D work and had a space they wanted to fill. So instead of the one piece I’d originally intended to offer, I now may have four pieces on display if the rest of the group agree. The show will be in May so I had to choose work which I’m not planning to use in my final assessment. I have to be prepared to talk about it too.

And the minor disaster was that one of my pots, several hours of work, fell over and broke after I’d transported it to the shelf for Reduction firing. I’m wondering if Richard the technician might fire the shards for me anyway, as tests – using bonfire ash as a glaze, and whether I can save time in future by once-firing to stoneware reduction temperatures rather than go through the bisque firing process.

In other news, the Life Drawing sessions have finished for the year, so here are my last drawings, just to show how much I’ve improved. Back to the other side of the easel – I have some bookings as a model coming up in April and May.


Life Drawing 18/3/16, graphite pencil


Life Drawing 18/3/16, charcoal


Powdered cave mud fired onto porcelain


It broke… maybe we can still fire the pieces as a test, and to resemble archaeological potsherds…?


Feedback and Subodh Gupta at Hauser & Wirth, Bruton

Art, Exhibition, public Art

The feedback from my Formative Assessment was fair and useful, but hit all my buttons – I’m not good enough, why do I think I could be an artist, what do I think I’m doing, all that sort of stuff. The anxiety and unease that throws us into making art in the first place, perhaps.
I have now resigned myself to not getting high marks in my art subject, but just to keep going. Paying more attention to presentation and the aesthetics of my work, as suggested. I always suffer from a surfeit of ideas and a lack of technique, I think.
Anyway, last weekend I took some friends to Hauser & Wirth, Bruton, to visit Subodh Gupta’s new exhibition there, ‘Invisible Reality’.
I do like going to this gallery; they offer free access to well-curated and presented high-end art, with plenty of information available to take away (great for context folders for my Uni course)and regular quality ‘community outreach’ and educational events. I still want a job there…
The current exhibition begins with a huge brass cooking pot hung on its side alone in a room. You first see the shiny underside looking like a huge gong then going round you look inside, to find a tangle of barbed wire where you’d expect food. Thought-provoking as well as quite beatiful. Gupta continually references his Indian homeland with domestic objects, often used and battered. If I could post the photos I took, I would – but for some reason the template on WordPress has changed and I can’t find how to post images any more. Perhaps I pressed the wrong button a while ago. Anyway, the ‘featured image’ is of the final exhibit, a stunning compilation of actual Indian cooking implements cunningly hung to represent an enormous cauldron.
I’d recommend this exhibition, as well as this gallery.

Leeds trip part 2 -Tetley building, Henry Moore Institute, Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Art, Exhibition, public Art

On the Thursday evening we went to an artists’ talk at the Tetley building, for The Feast Wagon exhibition, after an hour of looking at the work. Two of the four artists were present – Simeon Barclay and Delaine Le Bas, one black British originally from Leeds and one Romani British – plus two people from the gallery and the researcher Irfan Shah, who provided the theme. I was excited to see Romani work in a mainstream setting, and also enjoyed Susan Walsh’s quirky collages and the collection of children’s wagons.

Next day we had time for another foray into the British Art show before our Introduction to Katrina Palmer’s show The Necropolitan Line at the Henry Moore Institute. I liked reading the free newspaper she’d produced, but didn’t enjoy the work as much as many of my peers did. What I really did enjoy was discovering Moore’s architectural plaster maquettes in cases – I really liked the scale, the texture, the surfaces, the shapes, the way they looked like bone, ancient echoes… Far more than his large bronzes.

Finally, a brief visit to the Yorkshire Sculpture park on the way home to catch Bill Viola’s video work. I was not expecting to like this but actually I found it intensely moving. Here’s a link Bill Viola at YSP and I’d highly recommend going if you’re in the area – immersive, hypnotic, technically interesting and highly emotional.

The ground was really soggy after the downpours they’d had, but the weather was fine enough to go for a brisk stroll through the park. We didn’t have anywhere near long enough – I must return!

As usual, here are a few images from my tablet, apologies for the picture quality.


Delaine Le Bas, British Romani artist who works with found textiles and interventions


Delaine Le Bas, British Romani artist who works with found textiles and interventions


Collage by Susan Walsh at ‘The Feast Wagon’, Tetley, Leeds


Collage by Susan Walsh at ‘The Feast Wagon’, Tetley, Leeds


Quirky children’s wagons collected and constructed by Susan Walsh and Lubaine Himid at Tetley, Leeds


Quirky children’s wagons collected and constructed by Susan Walsh and Lubaine Himid at Tetley, Leeds


Henry Moore study in plaster for architectural bronzes


Henry Moore study in plaster for architectural bronzes


Poppies Wave at Yorkshire Sculpture Park


Looks like Mr Gormley was here… Yorkshire Sculpture Park


Too muddy to see who this was by, but it certainly caught my eye! Yorkshire Sculpture Park









Leeds trip part 1 – British Art Show

Art, Ceramics, Exhibition, public Art

A Uni trip to Leeds over two days. We arrived early afternoon and had a couple of hours to visit the British Art Show at Leeds Art Gallery – enough to whet the appetite but not to see everything of interest. Fortunately we had more time the next day to catch up on the rest of it. As there was a lot of video art installation the extra time was needed.

The exhibition had taken over the whole of the gallery. Organised by Hayward Touring at Southbank Centre, 42 artists were chosen by curators Anna Colin and Lydia Yee, and some 26 of them produced new work specifically for this exhibition. It finishes here on Jan 10th, moving on to Edinburgh, Norwich and finally Southampton.

The guide tells us that ‘A central concern of British Art Show 8 is the changing role and status of the object at a time of increasing convergence between the real and the virtual… artists have developed new ways of thinking about, and approaching, materiality.’

Some highlights for me: in terms of video, Mikhail Karikis Children of Unquiet, Rachel Maclean’s Feed Me, and Bedwyr Williams’ Century Egg all caught my attention for an extended viewing. Materially, Caroline Achaintre’s large wall-mounted textile pieces were a big draw, I was also interested in her ceramic mask pieces, for reference with my own work; and Aaron Angell’s ceramic pieces were displayed as tableaux.

Other textile works included Alexandre de Cunha’s Kentucky, constructed of mop heads and taking up a whole wall, Simon Fujiwara’s Fabulous Beasts, and Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin’s tapestry based on forensic evidence from Sigmund Freud’s couch, displayed with a monitor showing the source material. Jessica Warboys’ Sea Painting is a huge canvas that is literally made by the sea as her ‘collaborator’, traces of a ‘performance’, with a new piece to be made for each venue at nearby beaches.

Nicolas Deshayes’ sculptural work Cramps and Vein Section (or cave painting) were visually exciting but produced by industrial fabricators – the artist has the concept but instructs others to make the work… Other sculptural pieces included Magali Reus’ wall-mounted pieces based on padlocks and Daniel Sinsel’s paintings using appropriated material.

My overall impression was that a lot of the art on display necessitated reading the artists’ information displayed on the wall, explaining the thinking behind their work. The viewer is expected to work hard in contemporary art, it is not intended to be simply a sublime experience drinking in the beauty of it all…

It’s impossible to show everything that caught my eye and the camera of my tablet, so here are just a few to whet your appetite:

Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, from Freud's couch

Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin, from Freud’s couch

Magali Reus, one of 4 wall-mounted sculptures

Magali Reus, one of 4 wall-mounted sculptures

Caroline Achaintre, large textile hanging (one of 3 displayed)

Caroline Achaintre, large textile hanging (one of 3 displayed)

Caroline Achaintre, ceramic mask, wall-mounted

Caroline Achaintre, ceramic mask, wall-mounted

Caroline Achaintre, ceramic mask, wall-mounted

Caroline Achaintre, ceramic mask, wall-mounted

Nicolas Deshayes, 'Cramps'

Nicolas Deshayes, ‘Cramps’

Simon Fujiwara, one of the 'Fabulous beasts' series - constructed from shaved fur coats...

Simon Fujiwara, one of the ‘Fabulous beasts’ series – constructed from shaved fur coats…

Bedwyr Williams 'Century Egg', a 30 minute video, a narrative constructed around footage taken in the museums of Cambridge. Fascinating.

Bedwyr Williams ‘Century Egg’, a 30 minute video, a narrative constructed around footage taken in the museums of Cambridge. Fascinating.

Alexandre da Cunha 'Kentucky', large wallhanging constructed from mop heads

Alexandre da Cunha ‘Kentucky’, large wallhanging constructed from mop heads




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