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Archive for November, 2011

walks and poems

Hi there – just wanted to have a little catch up on my development work since I posted in early September….

The image above is one of the new series of paper resist decorated larger scale items that I started on back then (it’s about 50cm diameter) – on the page ‘back in the studio’, I put some photos of the first pieces I made before firing…and now I have them out of the kiln!

This platter is called ‘Out in the Dark’.  It was inspired by a poem by Edward Thomas, the first two lines of which are on the reverse of the platter:It looks like the second line is first on here…it should say ‘Out in the dark, over the snow/The fallow fawns invisible go’.  My next door neighbour happened to be in our back garden when I opened the kiln after firing the first of the new platters, and when he saw the wintery ones, he quoted these lines.  I thought they were so beautiful, and fitted perfectly with what I was trying to convey with my imagery, so I did this platter with the words on.  My neighbour has since lent me an anthology of Edward Thomas’ poetry, several of which have already given me ideas about new works… his writing is very simple and direct, which I really like, and he focuses on the ordinary things he sees whilst out walking in the English countryside – weeds, birds, stars, hedgerows etc.  I really like that.  There is such a lot to see in ordinary walks in the local park, or even up the road from my house to my studio, well worth recording and celebrating.

ANYWAY – this blog is supposed to be helping me to evaluate my progress as I go along, for the funded development period, and until now I have found it very difficult not to go off on a complete tangent!  So, here is an attempt to organize my progress so far:

So, first I went to see my creative mentor, which I talked about in my first blog entry.  Then I spent some time thinking about the things that inspire my work – especially nature, and how I like to portray nature and natural patterns.  And then I spent a couple of weeks walking around, taking photos and painting, also I did my first lino cuts.  The painting that I was most pleased with was the still life of 3 jugs and branches that I’d collected in the local park.  At the risk of going off on another tangent (!) I have decided that I am going to make an ongoing series of still lifes of my pots and pots that I have collected made by other potters that I really like – for my next painting I am planning to do one with two jugs made by Ken Eardley. I also painted a rowan tree – there are lots of rowan trees growing in my neighbourhood, which were all full of red/orange berries, and turning leaves – now all the leaves have gone and there are bare branches with just berries on them, which I find just gorgeous…

After all this 2d work, I felt more than  ready to make some new ceramics – so the first of the collection that I talked about on the page ‘back in the studio’ and here above were made.  The rowan tree berries inspired the tree designs on the ceramics, and the deer are inspired by walks in Wollaton Park which is somewhere I go often with my family.  I also did a large platter which really reminds me of the colours in Clumber Park, part of Sherwood Forest…so I called it ‘Sherwood Stag’ (this is also very large, about 50cm diameter):At this point (mid October), I realised that I had opened the creative floodgates, as it were…and that I was enjoying my creative development time so much that I didn’t want to stop until I had emptied the creative tank…so my plans for investigating designing for manufacture have been put on hold for now.  I did go and speak to Andrew Tanner, who until very recently was the head designer at Poole Pottery as well as being a designer maker – who very kindly spent part of an extremely busy day of his talking to me about manufacturing tableware in Stoke on Trent.  After speaking to him, I decided that this IS something I really do want to do, but am going to wait until January before I investigate any further – then all the Christmas retail shows I am attending will be done, and the family holidays over…

So, this made me realise that I am already running behind on my funded period timetable – so I am thinking about extending the period from one to two years – the first year being immersed fully in the creative development side of the funded work, and the second, informed by my creative development, to focus on the design for manufacture side of things.  I’m hoping that the Arts Council will agree to this!

Having said that, I have spent some of this week thinking about getting some of my designs put on to manufactured bone china mugs, which I have been wanting to do for about eighteen months now…so I am going to see if two of my tableware designs, ‘Melanie’ and ‘Soren’, will be suitable to go on manufactured bone china mugs as transfers.  This will be my first foray into design for manufacture after the design I did for ECP Ltd, which sold for them really well. I’m going to spend all of the money that I’ve made at my last two retail shows on  buying roughly 800 of these mugs, so I really hope they are a success!  If these first two designs go well, I’m thinking about building up quite a large collection of different designs on the same mug shape that will be exclusively mine to distribute and sell.  The mugs should be with me by early January.This is the ‘Melanie’ design on thrown tableware.  Melanie is a very good friend of mine…it is also the name of a folk singer in the 1970s, who my dad liked…this pattern is for me very strongly reminiscent of the mid 1970s.

And here are a few more pictures of my new ceramics…Right, I’ll have another catch up after Brighton!  Until then….hug a tree for me.

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