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.

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

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









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



The Big Draw and Wells Art Contemporary

Art, Exhibition

My tutor Kate suggested I attend The Big Draw in Wells today (part of ‘the world’s biggest drawing festival’ every October) as I’d admitted that I’m really resistant to drawing. Fortunately it coincided with the Wells Art Contemporary exhibition at the Museum so I hit two birds with one stone. It’s also the last weekend of Somerset Art Weeks (SAW) and we took the opportunity to call in Venues 83, 85 and 87 to make a day of it.

Venue 87 is the Somerset Guild of Craftsmen’s new gallery in Wells, having moved from Somerton where I’ve visited previously. The main displays were still being set up but we admired much work, joked with the assistant about tissue paper on a plinth (wrapping for some lovely textile work), and picked up a flyer for the Opening on Oct 31st.

Onto the Museum, next to the Cathedral, to find The Big Draw. Their theme was to construct a giant pot from fragments of drawings, using both Museum displays (on brown paper with black biro) and the Contemporary Art exhibition (coloured pencils on white paper) for inspiration. All drawings produced were then pinned onto a framework to represent a giant pot.

As any ages or abilities could participate, I didn’t feel too bad about my pathetic attempts, and thoroughly enjoyed examining the archaeology display in the Balch room, eventually deciding to cheat and draw a Beaker pot copied from another drawing. Upstairs, I enjoyed the whole exhibition (I recognised a few works from the Degree Show at BSU) before hastily scribbling some colours to represent an abstract painting just inside the door.

Fortunately I’d pinned them to the pot framework and taken some photos of my favourite work before going into the ‘student display’, where artists from local secondary schools displayed their own work which had been judged by the same panel of artists as the main competition. The quality was outstanding, and as usual I struggled with how on earth I’m doing a Degree course with people who’d studied and produced work of this sort of standard before reaching Uni.

Anyway – the photos. Here are my tentative drawings, the ‘pot’ we were constructing, and some of my favourites from the Wells Art Contemporary (you may notice a preference for ceramic and 3D work…) On the way home we called at Venue 85, Frameus in Wells, and Venue 83 in Godney to visit Kate Noble, who’s exhibiting with Kim de Vries (I know them both). We had a lively discussion with Kate about the exhibition we’d just seen…

Links to Wells and the Big Draw here:

My poor tentative attempts for The Big Draw. Never how I intend them to look.

My poor tentative attempts for The Big Draw. Never how I intend them to look.

The 'Pot' constructed from drawing 'fragments' at Wells Museum, The Big Draw 2015

The ‘Pot’ constructed from drawing ‘fragments’ at Wells Museum, The Big Draw 2015

Asia Fuse, 'Rat Wall', plaster, at Wells Art Contemporary

Asia Fuse, ‘Rat Wall’, plaster, at Wells Art Contemporary

Gillian Wisden 'Ball and Chain', seaweed, metal, at Wells Art Contemporary

Gillian Wisden ‘Ball and Chain’, seaweed, metal, at Wells Art Contemporary

Morag MacInnes 'Twin Towers', clay, at Wells Art Contemporary

Morag MacInnes ‘Twin Towers’, clay, at Wells Art Contemporary

Lauren Ilsley 'Empyrean Alignment No 1', earthenware, at Wells Art Contemporary

Lauren Ilsley ‘Empyrean Alignment No 1’, earthenware, at Wells Art Contemporary

Anthony Lloyd 'Festoon', porcelain at Wells Art Contemporary

Anthony Lloyd ‘Festoon’, porcelain at Wells Art Contemporary

Jacqueline Anderson 'Conversation Piece', womens tights filled with flour, etc (a moving piece...) at Wells Art Contemporary

Jacqueline Anderson ‘Conversation Piece’, womens tights filled with flour, etc (a moving piece…) at Wells Art Contemporary

Oshia taking up Kate Noble's offer of some home-grown grapes

Oshia taking up Kate Noble’s offer of some home-grown grapes