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

Deep Time, Deep Place

Art, Ceramics

That was the title of the 15 minute presentation I gave last week about my work, for course assessment. Although I was really stressed at venturing out of my comfort zone yet again – it’s only the second PowerPoint presentation I’ve ever given – the whole process really did help pull my ideas into some sort of coherent shape.

I am clearly deeply influenced by my lifelong interest in prehistory, the ‘Deep Time’ of the title. All those thousands of years we were fully human, living and moving around this planet, leaving traces – hand prints, footprints… And museum exhibits I’ve seen over the years. Prehistoric British pottery from the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages. Serendipitously, the weekend before the presentation I called in at the Glastonbury Lake Village exhibition in the Tribunal – there was a wool event on – and took photos of the reconstructed pots in a glass case. Also my tutors had suggested at the last Group Crit that I consider displaying my work in glass cases, to reference museums. So that’s probably what I’ll do for the Final Assessment – and if they like it, for the Degree show.

The ‘Deep Place’ referred to several ideas. Firstly, I’d been using mud dug out of caves on the Mendips by my speleologist son as ‘glazes’; secondly, our knowledge of the human prehistory is dug out of the ground, archaeologists sifting through layers, going down deeper in time and place; and thirdly, my strong felt connection with this land, going back to the years I lived ‘On the Road’ as a traveller in the 80s, and my daughter’s recent finding via a DNA analysis that we belong to the oldest mitochondrial line in western Europe.

So here are some pics of the latest pots out of the kiln, which I won’t be using for assessment as the shape is too contemporary, plus some things in glass cases. Not long to go now before it all has to be set up. I need to work on my artist statement, self assessment document, business cards and updating this website (pages) before then, plus getting all my contextual evidence and sketchbooks in order.

Anxious, but also excited. Degree show to follow! PV is Fri 10th June, show is on until Sun 19th, at Sion Hill campus. Do come…


Glastonbury Lake Village display at the Tribunal, Late Iron Age


Glastonbury Lake Village display at the Tribunal, Late Iron Age


new pot, reduction fired, Mendip cave mud handprint


new pot, reduction fired, Mendip cave mud handprint


new pot, reduction fired, Mendip cave mud handprint – sadly, the rim lifted, applied when pot too dry.


trying various pots in a glass case to check which went together…



Finish line in sight…

Art, Ceramics

I can’t believe it’s a month since I last blogged. So much has happened that I won’t be able to catch up fully. But one of the things I achieved was a session in the photography studios at Uni to get some good images of my work, needed for a presentation I have to give next week. We’ll leave the struggles with Powerpoint out of this post – the struggle with a decent camera, light meter and studio set-up was quite enough. I find these things very challenging.

So I thought I’d share a few images, which I managed to edit into a smaller file size last week. The end of the course is in sight now, ‘just’ the presentation, Final Assessment and degree show to go. I’ve stopped making new work to focus on refining my narrative and choosing the very few pieces which will represent my conclusion. Three of the last four pots went into the gas kiln today for stoneware reduction firing – one piece held over due to lack of space, but it looks like there’ll be another reduction firing in time. I’ve made some decisions already as to how many, and which, footprints and masks to show, and how I plan to display them. Hoping the rest of the group don’t shoot me down in flames at the all-day Group Crit this Thursday! Just the choice to make between the pots now. And the presentation, of course…

What you see here is not what I’ll be displaying, except as ‘supporting evidence’ for the assessment. If you plan to come to the Degree Show I’m sure my work will be unmistakable, but still hopefully a surprise to you. And the date? Private View Fri 10th June, on for 10 days, show take-down Mon 20th. (Then I go on-site to steward at Glastonbury Festival, but that’s another story).


My Expressive pot – this is exactly how I was feeling at the time! Stretched beyond my limits, slumped and needing support.


Working on textured pots, showing all the making process. Nice scorch marks from open flame of reduction firing.


A very pleasing shape, based on bronze age cooking pots. Thumb print decoration around rim using cave mud.


Another textured pot, inside and outside, showing tool marks. Decoration is raw Welshes Green cave mud slapped on to dribble as it melted. Blue Lias, gives a nice green-brown glaze. Interior ‘glazed’ with bonfire ash and cave mud.


Handprints test piece – Cutlers Green sample 2 on the left, Welshes Green sample on the right, fired onto porcelain.


Powdered Cutlers Green mud sample 3 sieved over hand to make silhouette, referencing ancient hand prints on cave walls, fired onto porcelain.


Footprints in both cave muds (Welshes Green on left, Cutlers Green 2 on right), imitating footprint tracks of Mesolithic people found in Severn estuary.


Assessment and Grayson Perry

Art, Ceramics

Last week was the Formative Assessment for my ceramics/3D course, so much anxiety. It’s the only chance to get anything marked and find out how I’m doing before the final Summative Assessment sometime in May. We had to display our work so far, with supporting material and all the research folders, sketchbooks and journals up to date. Now I’m waiting for the feedback…

So while the tutors were in the studios looking at everyone’s work, I went off into Bath with two other students to visit some current exhibitions and distract myself. I really wanted to get to Grayson Perry’s The Vanity of Small Differences tapestries at the Victoria Art Gallery victoria art gallery (on until April), which did not disappoint. So much rich texture, vibrant colours, funny, pointed, knowing… I love his work.

Then to 44AD by the Abbey to catch the end of a collaborative show, artists working with medical practitioners and students. Lots of information, interactive displays etc, some video, paintings and mixed media work (I liked the open boxes, like a cross between dolls houses and old museum displays). And finally the Society of Wood Engravers group show at the BRLSI, also about to finish. Very polished work, highly skilled, some traditional subjects and techniques and some pushing the boundaries more, all held together by the same frames throughout.

And then the walk back up the hill in drizzle to pack away my work before the second year students need the space… here are a few images of what I showed:


Formative Assessment – my desk and wall with life drawings


Formative Assessment – my desk, tests and work in progress


Formative Assessment – display of work with natural objects


Formative Assessment – work on display


Formative Assessment – work on display


Formative Assessment – work on display


Formative Assessment – work on display


Formative Assessment – work on display

Back to the studio


Last week I had a car problem so only got in to Uni on two days, one of which was a day-long group crit. The joy. But I’ve been making heads (again) using a different technique – my tutor told me to stop making them as pots and try a building technique using torn triangles of rolled-out clay, placed into a hollow form cut from foam. So I did my own version, which turned out to be torn strips of rolled-out clay, placed over newspaper forms. While working through some issues around my childhood dyspraxia and autism spectrum stuff. It was wildly uncomfortable, but I did read art books to calm myself, especially ‘Naked Clay‘ by Jane Perryman which gave me some pointers towards surface decoration (or lack of).

Those first heads in the new style seemed to hit the spot at the group crit, so this week I carried on, using various clays and mixtures.

I also have this idea for displaying them using sound triggered by motion sensors – a consequence of learning to use Soundcloud during the Richard Long week. So I’ve also been researching how this might happen.

Here are a few of the new heads at the pre-bisque stage. I’m also continuing a range of small figurines called ‘Little gritty gods’, as play, and to have some small items to sell in a local gallery. I intend to experiment with a bronze glaze on these.

New style head 1

New style head 1

New style head 2

New style head 2

New style head 3

New style head 3

New style head 4

New style head 4

New style head 5

New style head 5

Richard Long Masterclass Project (Lines of Desire), outcomes

Art, public Art

I’ve had a full day of rest and an extra hour’s sleep as the clocks went back, so I’m now ready to report and reflect on the last two days and the outcomes of this intensive week-long project, in which Art and Geography students worked together to ‘map’ the Newton Park campus, informed by the work and approaches of Bristol-based artist Richard Long. Phew.

So Thursday was our day to go off and work in groups, mapping or intervening (artistically) on campus, with tutor support and gatherings by the media wall at 9.00 am and 1.00 pm. I’d brought in scissors, glue and the printed-out photos sent in after the first day (four each), plus the word sheets from Wednesday group work. A lot of material, how to organise it? I’d been hoping to find someone else to share this work but it seemed I was on my own – collaborative in that the raw material came from the whole group, but alone in terms of what I did with it. More anxiety.

The morning passed with soothing cutting-out of the photos, and placing them onto the word sheets in any way that seemed to make intuitive sense. By lunchtime it was obvious that I had far too much material and I’d need to edit ruthlessly. I wrote all the words into a list and divided them by type – concrete nouns, emotions, verbs – ah, verbs! The Doing of art, a link with Richard Long’s process.

A long roll of paper meant I could write out my verb list (in an order that pleased my poet-self) and put various photos next to the words, not to illustrate but more to inform or comment on… I had a vision. To make a poem-thing using words and images that could fill the media wall. Could it be done?

Google slides, said Richard. I’ve never used Google slides. Could I do something in PowerPoint and transfer it? Yes. OK, so I got to work on my old clunky laptop, finding, downloading, re-naming the relevant images from Flickr and putting them into the slides I created with the words. It took a very long time. I’m not very IT literate. The last two hours of this were done at home by which time I was utterly exhausted, and spent a restless night wondering if it would work. At 2.00 am I had an idea for Plan B, another (low-tech) way of using the source material, which I refined on the drive in on Friday morning.

The tutors were amazing. Sue Lawty and Richard White spent hours working on how to translate my presentation into a format readable by the media wall, for a long time it looked as if we’d only get a small image up on there. Meanwhile I cut up the letters for HERE out of the original word sheets, laid them out as compass points and surrounded them with a circle of the photos, plus a line… Plan B in action. I reached crying point in the IT frustrations and Sue sent me off for a walk, so I caught up with what some of the other groups had been doing and had a proper breakfast, then there was a lot of hanging around and preparing what I’d say in my 1-minute spiel at the end. Finally Glenn the IT wizard from Sion Hill cracked our problems, my image appeared full-size, and I could relax and celebrate.

I would do it all very differently if I was doing it again, but given the time constraints I think it was sort of OK. I loved seeing and hearing what the other groups and individuals had been doing – and there was wine and nibbles for our celebration. I have learnt how to use Soundcloud and Flickr, expanded my boundaries enormously in terms of my own practice, and made some good contacts. It was all worth it. Really. But phew, glad it’s over!

Plan B, the low-tech response...

Plan B, the low-tech response…

Plan B, the low-tech response... from the balcony

Plan B, the low-tech response… from the balcony

Tutors and Sue Lawty working hard on my Plan A... with much appreciation!

Tutors and Sue Lawty working hard on my Plan A… with much appreciation!

Other groups' work 1

Other groups’ work 1

Other groups' work 2 - the view through the green screen

Other groups’ work 2 – the view through the green screen

Other groups' work 3, Andy Goldsworthy influence here

Other groups’ work 3, Andy Goldsworthy influence here

Other groups' work 4, Andy Goldsworthy influence here

Other groups’ work 4, Andy Goldsworthy influence here

Other groups' work 5, an intervention on an existing sculpture

Other groups’ work 5, an intervention on an existing sculpture

Other groups' work 6, one of Viv's tiny interventions - this one is 'A Bird knows No Boundaries'

Other groups’ work 6, one of Viv’s tiny interventions – this one is ‘A Bird knows No Boundaries’

Plan A finally worked! My po-art thing. Not brilliant, but a first attempt at something and a huge amount of work

Plan A finally worked! My po-art thing. Not brilliant, but a first attempt at something and a huge amount of work

Ooh, is that for us?!

Ooh, is that for us?!

Richard Long Masterclass Project, Day 3

Art, Context, Exhibition, public Art

The whole project is actually called ‘Lines of Desire‘, but was billed to us as a masterclass. What this actually entailed was a group visit to Richard Long’s retrospective at the Arnolfini on Tuesday, plus going to see Boyhood Line on the Clifton Downs; and an invitation-only lecture by him on Wednesday at the Uni, which lasted slightly under an hour.

It was my second visit to the exhibition, and I did get more from it, especially as we had an introduction to each gallery with more background information on the work. Basically, his art begins and ends with walking. To some extent, the walking IS the sculpture. Photos of interventions in the landscape using found materials are another form of the artwork, and his text pieces are about the concept, the idea. When he was studying and starting work in the Sixties and Seventies, avant-garde artists were attempting to move away from art as objects in galleries, making work that was harder to buy and sell. They were focusing on the ideas of art rather than its commercial value, and wanted to make the viewer do some work, using the imagination.

Richard Long is that rare beast, an internationally-acclaimed artist who still lives and works were he grew up – in Bristol. He uses specific materials in his gallery work, such as River Avon mud, or stones from two particular quarries. His mark-making palette consists of circles, lines and crosses, used by humanity for millennia and situating himself in the landscape.

The upstairs vitrines showed samples of his book works, and I learnt about his print works in the gallery bookshop. Then we set off to find the recent piece Boyhood Line, which took a lot of wandering around on the Downs in the glorious sunshine. Oh, how we suffer for our art.

Wednesday started with Reflections, various questions we had to answer individually and in groups towards devising our collaborative responses. I liked the text pieces we produced and decided to work further with these texts and the photographs we’d all submitted from the first day’s campus exploration.

I took two pages of notes from the lecture and found it interesting to hear his own perspective on his work, as opposed to where others would place it. He emphasised the walk as the sculpture, saying that he is an opportunist, producing work in the moment and enjoying the freedom to do so. His works are often ephemeral, he will sometimes scatter the materials used after documenting with a photograph, but other pieces are still extant after twenty years. He does not signpost them and is not bothered whether they are seen or not, preferring them to be anonymous. He is interested in alignments and measurements, and stresses the fact that his art is not conceptual as the works are real physical acts or events.

Lots more to think about. An intense few days so far! In terms of my own work, perhaps less of a focus on things, making objects – I have indeed worked out how to record with my tablet, and save to Soundcloud. I may be working on my first GoogleSlide show to go up on the Media Wall in Commons building… I have plenty of ideas as to how to incorporate these new ideas into my practice this year, but for now, a few photos to end with.

Richard Long at the Arnolfini - text piece documenting a walk - or an idea.

Richard Long at the Arnolfini – text piece documenting a walk – or an idea.

Richard Long at the Arnolfini - a text piece referencing Bob Dylan, as several do. It may look like a concrete poem, but it definitely isn't one - he said.

Richard Long at the Arnolfini – a text piece referencing Bob Dylan, as several do. It may look like a concrete poem, but it definitely isn’t one – he said.

Richard Long at the Arnolfini - the group exploring gallery 3

Richard Long at the Arnolfini – the group exploring gallery 3

Richard Long at the Arnolfini - how walking is sculpture, in Artspeak

Richard Long at the Arnolfini – how walking is sculpture, in Artspeak

Looking for a white line on the Downs... and finding plenty 1

Looking for a white line on the Downs… and finding plenty 1

Looking for a white line on the Downs... and finding plenty 2

Looking for a white line on the Downs… and finding plenty 2

Looking for a white line on the Downs... and finding plenty 3 - Found it!

Looking for a white line on the Downs… and finding plenty 3 – Found it!

Boyhood Line, Richard Long, Clifton Down... this one has a plaque

Boyhood Line, Richard Long, Clifton Down… this one has a plaque

The stones are already disappearing into the grass

The stones are already disappearing into the grass

Group work towards Lines of Desire outcomes... I want to edit it further as a poem...

Group work towards Lines of Desire outcomes… I want to edit it further as a poem…

Richard Long Masterclass Project, Day 1


The first day of a week-long project at Bath Spa University, Newton Park Campus. With lecturers Becky Scharf (Geography), Julianne Worral Hood (Art), Richard White (Social Media etc), Owain Jones(Environmental Humanities), Mike Johnston (Creative Media Practice) and Lead Artist Sue Lawty… plus about 4 Geography students and a whole bunch of assorted arty students.

After we’d all briefly introduced ourselves and our work, we had some background info from Owain about the environmental crisis we must all somehow respond to, a lecture from Sam Walton (English Lit) about Land, Art & Text (sadly cut short due to room booking system); and after lunch a quick session on Social Media from Richard before we set off into the wild… oops I mean for a walk on campus.

Our brief was to photograph whatever captured our interest, 4 images of which should be sent to the project this evening as ‘homework’ – they’ll be featured on the Media Wall in Commons building by Wednesday. Also to collect items on the way for a ‘dictionary of things’, a task I took to with gusto. It helped that I always carry a spare plastic bag with me… I was filmed and interviewed picking up feathers, a constant fascination of mine.

Eventually we stopped at the ‘temple’ on the other side of the lake/fish/duck pond, where we laid out the found objects on a large sheet of white paper. Followed by another brief – to ‘draw’ in any way or medium we desired, and share our working methods. Mine involved cigarette butts; Sandy drew circles into patches of lichen; Poppy ‘drew’ a long line of cut grass… others filled in cracks on the paving stones with tiny pieces of gravel, or scored their sketchbooks with found items, or recorded ambient sounds etc. Some people even drew!

Tomorrow we’re all off to the Arnolfini in Bristol for a group visit and talk at the Richard Long retrospective, and on Wednesday the man himself is coming to speak to us. Then we start on our creative responses.

A few photos from today, and further updates later in the week. Oh, I may discover how to use flickr and soundcloud at some point…

Artist Sue Lawty heading off into the wilds of Newton Park, armed with a large roll of white paper and a grin

Artist Sue Lawty heading off into the wilds of Newton Park, armed with a large roll of white paper and a grin

Things I notice... 1

Things I notice… 1

Things I notice...2

Things I notice…2

Things we collected...1

Things we collected…1

Things we collected...2

Things we collected…2

Drawing with cigarette butts...1

Drawing with cigarette butts…1

Drawing with cigarette butts...2

Drawing with cigarette butts…2

Drawing with cigarette butts...3 (3D)

Drawing with cigarette butts…3 (3D)

MA Exhibition, Bath Spa University

Art, Exhibition

I have quite a few events to catch up on, so let’s do it in chronological order. First up, the MA show at Bath Spa Uni, where I’ll be doing a third year art course starting next week (3D/ceramics).

The PV was Friday 18th September, and I went with a fellow mature student studying (Fine) Art, Viv Meadows. We parked and entered from the back of the building, so encountered Becca Quirk’s 3D work on the way in, which I loved. Echoes of Richard Long…

I talked with the artist about her influences and my enjoyment of the work, then moved on to see what else caught my eye. There was so much to see that it had to have a particular significance to make me put down the bag and coat, pull the tablet out and take snaps.

The next artist who did it for me was Caroline Truss – some of her works reminded me of Marlene Dumas, who I discovered during my Art Foundation course. I aim to do more loose ink drawings myself, soon…

The room next door contained 2D and 3D work by Steve Joyce, here is ‘Fence 2’, a crash barrier constructed from corrugated cardboard…

This show is on for another week or so, do catch it if you can. I’ve hardly touched on what’s there – textiles, a couple of ceramic artists, film, etc. But that will have to do for this post – more exhibition reports to come.

Becca Quirk

Becca Quirk

Becca Quirk

Becca Quirk

Becca Quirk

Becca Quirk

Becca Quirk

Becca Quirk

Caroline Truss

Caroline Truss

Caroline Truss

Caroline Truss

Caroline Truss

Caroline Truss

Steve Joyce - Fence 2

Steve Joyce – Fence 2

Steve Joyce - Fence 2 - detail

Steve Joyce – Fence 2 – detail

Steve Joyce - Fence 2, detail, with his digital print in the background

Steve Joyce – Fence 2, detail, with his digital print in the background

One out, one in…?

Art, Exhibition

I’ve just packed up my exhibition at Blue Cedar – a couple of days before planned, as they have a new artist in this weekend.

But to make up for that, I went along to the local library (Glastonbury) where one of the assistants had offered me the use of the noticeboards if I wanted to put up any artwork there. I’ve now negotiated to have 2 boards and a table there, during SAW in October.

Next week I’ll be able to pick up my share of the proceeds from sales at Blue Cedar, will visit a friend in Yeovil to deliver her chosen set of raku mini-figures called The Gang, and another friend wants to see the unframed prints I still have, because the one she wanted from the last exhibition had already sold.

Must keep the momentum up. Looking forward to getting back into the ceramics studio again in October, but before that I have a proposal to write for a rather special Uni collaboration/group project that I’m applying for. See my last post for hints, and wish me luck…