One Year On

Exactly one year ago, almost to the day, I can very clearly remember writing the blog entry about embarking on my year of creative development. The boys were just back at school and I was filled with a mixture of  excitement and anxiety about embarking on my creative adventures, and all the unknown things that lay ahead.  Today is the second day that both of the boys are back at school, and even the weather is exactly like it was on that day last year – a late summer tinged sunshine filled day, where it’s nice to feel the sun when you go outside, but its also good to be wearing woolly socks!

So, I’m going to write a review of the past 12 months, and there will probably be too many words and not enough pictures in this entry, so if you are not using this document as a useful item in relation to your own work, it might not be worth soldiering on with all the woffle…although of course you are more than welcome to if you feel like it!

Just before I start the review though, I have a little update on ‘Bovey Tracey’ – as my last entry was written just before going to this show, so I thought I’d put a picture up of my stand there:There is ‘Teresa’s Plate’ and ‘Crab Apple Blossom’ on the wall.  Teresa herself had  a stand right opposite mine (www.teresagreen.co.uk), and we shared a tent for the weekend, which was lovely!  I don’t see her all that much now she has moved to Exeter, so it was a good chance to catch up with her.  And ‘Teresa’s Plate’ got sold, so that was good.

So – the weekend went really well in terms of sales of new work, and this was the first time I had brought a decent amount of mounted and framed prints along, so I was interested to see how they sold compared to the ceramics.  I was very glad that I had brought them, as I sold 10, and it was very good to find out that I am not painting into a void, so to speak.. I also sold quite a lot of the new ceramics, and lots of the dandelion and hoops range as always.  I was also delighted to find that I had been given the show’s ‘best ceramics’ award!  Unfortunately the certificate got totally mashed up on the way home, but it’s up in the studio.

And now here is my review of the past 12 months.

OVERVIEW:  I think I can sum this period of time up in general by saying that my attitude to my work has changed enormously, and that this is really the major change.  My approach is now much more serious and thoughtful compared to the pre-development days, and this really had to happen in order for me to develop creatively.  Whereas before this time I was visited by flashes of inspiration on a quite random and ad hoc basis, now I have a much more focused approach to this fundamental aspect of my work. This has meant that I analyse what I am doing very carefully, and plan my next steps accordingly, which really helps with developing creatively and technically, in both ceramics and painting.

ART AND LITERATURE:  Since my discovery of, and strong feeling of affinity towards the work of Robert Tavener, I have developed a wider interest in 2-d artists from the period of time that I am interested in aesthetically – very roughly the first 50 years of the 20th century – and have also been reading a lot of novels and other writing set in or written during this time, such as the biography of Edward Thomas by Matthew Hollis, ‘Mariana’ by Monica Dickens, ‘The Stranger’s Child’ by Alan Hollinghurst and books by Patrick Hamilton and Pawel Huelle.  Reading these books has really set the 2d work I’ve been looking at in context – such as paintings by Eric Ravilious, Winifred Nicholson and John and Paul Nash; and it has in turn influenced me with the ‘tone’ of my work.  So I am on the way to combining this sensibility with my pattern making instincts, and my fascination for the structures found in tree and plant life.  The way in which some of these artists highlight the order and ‘design’ of nature in their work really appeals to me, and I feel that my work echoes that approach, and now I would really like to develop this further.  This has been all rather unexpected, but I am very happy about it.

PRINTMAKING:  I was planning to embark on a new direction into printmaking, specifically lino cuts, and this has proved rather a sticking point with me.  I think that my hesitation stems from my feeling that I am right at the beginning of development as a 2d artist, and that I need to sort out issues and problems that I’ve come across with elements such as composition making before committing lots of time to making lino cuts (which is a very time consuming process), plus my unfamiliarity with the processes and techniques of printmaking mean that I have a lot to learn technically, which I feel will hold me up somewhat in terms of developing creatively.  I would really need to spend a solid 2-3 months on lino cuts if I am to get anywhere with them. So this plan is on hold until I am happier with the watercolours and drawings that I’ve been making, and when I have found my way there a bit more, I will block out a good few weeks to devote solely to printmaking.

CERAMICS:  My ceramics have developed in a significant way, and these changes had been waiting to happen for a long time.  I had already been thinking about making work on a larger scale and introducing more complex and detailed decoration for some time before the funded period started, so I was more than ready to start to make this new body of work.   A very significant event happened in the early spring of 2010, when our family had a little holiday in the sherwood forest Centre Parcs.  Staying there in amongst the forest, I felt as if I was noticing the changes in the trees from one season to the next, for the very first time – it was so exciting!  I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the tiny, tightly closed buds on the bare branches, the bareness revealing the perfect structure of the trees, the raindrops clinging to the branches, and everything so hushed and quietly expectant, ready for the changes that spring would bring – and all of this was taking place in a very pearly, gentle light – the way it is on overcast late February days.  I was so enchanted by this discovery, and made lots of little sketches and wrote notes describing everything.  This experience in particular informed my new ceramic decoration – attempting to describe the perfection and delicacy of branches, leaves and buds, highlighting the symmetry and geometry of tree structures in particular.  Here is a photo of one of my most recent plates, called ‘Late Summer Tree’, to illustrate:So I have moved towards a more illustrative approach to my ceramic decoration, but elements of pattern making are still vitally important, and are always included, such as in the border details.   These borders are also a reference to the decorative art and design of the artists that I’ve mentioned above, and which are also echoed in the work of other contemporary artists such as Mark Hearld and Angie Lewin.  Who are both, you will not be at all surprised to hear, idols of mine!  I have also introduced animals such as deer to the new decorations, to keep the Scandinavian feel of my work that is very important to me,  and as a variation on the ‘woodland’ theme.  I am glad to discover that there is a dialogue developing between my investigations into 2 dimensions and my work with ceramics, the one informing the other – which I think will continue to develop.  I plan to continue making ceramics decorated in a similar way, to develop these themes further and to keep looking for inspiration in the natural world.  I am making one off pieces now as much as batches of the same thing, which really helps me to remain interested and excited about making.

DAILY ROUTINE:  The nature of my day to day routine has also changed a great deal, to enable me to put my creative development at the centre of my work.  So now I don’t have anyone helping me, and I work alone.  This can be quite isolating, and has had a big impact on my production capacity, but it has also meant that I can focus completely on whatever I’m doing and I don’t feel at all a ‘slave’ to production that I once did in the days of batch production.  Whereas before I spent 90% of my time making batches of tableware for trade orders, now I just make work for exhibitions, retail shows and direct customer sales.  I don’t take part in many group shows any more, for exhibitions of a general nature, but instead I make work for special themed shows or one or two person exhibitions.  This means that I feel that I am making fresh work for every show, and am at liberty to make what I like so can pursue new ideas and themes each time.  For example, I have an exhibition coming up at the Castle Gallery (www.castlegallery.co.uk) in Inverness in March 2013, for both ceramics and painting – so I can use this as a chance to produce a set of new paintings, which will help to develop my 2d work and hopefully iron out some of the technical issues there.

STAYING ON TRACK:  There was a feature written about me in the August edition of Country Living magazine, and this generated an awful lot of enquiries about the tableware that I’d been making before the development period (there was a nice big picture of me standing in front of shelves full of tableware in my studio) – and since I have made it a rule to say yes to all direct customer orders, I am feeling a bit pulled back into batch production again.  This made me think about how I need to remain in control of what I am doing and how I plan my time, as I could very easily end up in exactly the same situation that led me to applying for the funding in the first place.  So next time I have a publicity opportunity like this, I will be much more aware of the possible results!

Time for a picture break:That is my most recent watercolour, incorporating three of my favourite things – patterned fabric, structural plants and handmade or vintage tableware.  The fabric has been fabricated to some extent, and I forgot all about perspective when I was painting it, which is why it looks a little bit oddly vertical!  But I am mainly pleased with it.  I do like blue and green together.

Right – back to the report!

CHANGES TO THE ORIGINAL PLAN:  Looking back on the original plan for the funded acitivity, I can see that I have veered off from it in a few unforseen ways.  I had rather naively given myself only a total of three to four weeks of actual creative development time, ie, sitting down and painting, drawing or designing – which has turned out to be very far short of the time that I actually need in order to progress.  I hadn’t been expecting to get so consumed by my new direction into 2d work, which now feels as vital to my creative development as making ceramics, and so my plan for the future now is to spend half of my time producing ceramics, and the other half on painting or other 2d work.  And this feels like a life time decision, since I think the challenges that painting and printmaking present will continue for the rest of my life.  As I mentioned earlier, my attitude to my creative work is very different to how it was previously, and as the plan was made before all the changes took place, I hadn’t bargained on the realisation that creative development is a continual thing, and that there isn’t an end point, or destination at all – so to allocate a finite time such as four weeks to this, is no longer right.

DESIGN FOR MANUFACTURE PLANS:  In the original plan, half of the year was to be taken up with creative development, and the other half with research into working with a manufacturer to produce tableware and other items such as stationery from my designs.  This no longer feels quite right, after my experiences of the last year.  For one thing, I had vastly underestimated the time that I needed for creative development (I extended the period from one to two years about six months ago, when this became apparent, and now I know that it is an ongoing process), and for another, since the nature of development is unguessable in terms of the final results, I couldn’t forsee that I would be so totally taken up with the creative development that I can’t really see how I can make any time for design for manufacture now.  The original plan was to spend next year on research into manufacturers and possible retail partners for a new collection of tableware and other homewares.   I would still really like to do this, but I would have to put all of the work I have been doing this year on hold in order to give it the attention that it would require, and it feels at the moment that this would not be the right thing to do.  So I am hoping that I’ll get an opportunity to work with a manufacturer or retailer  at some point, but that this will arise from joining organisations such as Design Nation, who exist to bring designers and manufacturers together, rather than that becoming my full time occupation.  After a few tentative forays in this direction, I also know that I am very inexperienced at spotting potential pitfalls that arise from working in this way, and that I could really do with some expert help in this area.  So I will look out for this rather than trying to tackle it from scratch myself.  So I suppose, if it happens that I get an opportunity, that would be fantastic, but in the meantime I am quite happy to continue working in the same way that I have been for the last 12 months.  I have been discussing a publishing arrangement for my greetings cards and prints with a fine art publisher, which could set me on the right path if anything comes of it, as they have contacts with big retailers such as John Lewis – but as yet nothing is definite, and I’m feeling quite relaxed about the situation.  In the meantime, I’m more than happy to continue on my creative development, which feels more than enough to deal with in many ways.

There – that’s it for now.  Thanks for listening!  Just to finish, here is one more picture, taken on my birthday at Holkham Bay in North Norfolk.  Just my kind of place – pine trees right up to the edge of a huge, wide, sandy beach, fringed with salt marshes where little low growing succulent plants had prduced millions of tiny purple flowers.  And massive skies of August blue…here is my oldest, Ewan, in a rare moment of contemplating nature…


Bovey Tracey

studio shelves
Here is a picture of my studio yesterday morning, just before I started to pack everything up to take to the Contemporary Craft Fair at Bovey Tracey, which opens on Friday 15th June – that’s in three days! Here’s a link to the show’s website: www.craftsatboveytracey.co.uk
I’ve been very busy making ceramics of the new variety for the show, plus a small selection of tableware in dandelions, tiny hoops and dotted stripe patterns. Also coming with me are giclee prints of the watercolours I’ve been painting over the past few months, so I’ll be interested to see how these go down as this is the first time I’m bringing work like this to a show…Plus, some of the gorgeous books that Heather Dewick has been making for me. Although I have to admit that I don’t want to sell any of these, as I love them too much to part with them!

Here are a few more images of the pre packed ceramics…now they are all in boxes ready to go, my studio looks really bare, and the huge amount of dusting I need to do has revealed itself…
studio shelves 2two fair isle jugs

fair isle tree bowl
long tree platters
border tpot and jug
fair isle tpot and jug
Bovey Tracey fair is a highlight of my year. I always have such a lovely time there, whatever the weather…! I hope to see you there this weekend.

Hello there – time for a little springtime update!

My main focus during the couple of months since my last post has been working towards the exhibition at Ainscough Contemporary Art gallery (www.acag.co.uk).  This was a very important event for me as it was all about showcasing my new ceramics and 2d work that I’ve been doing since the funding period started 8 months ago.  It was a very good opportunity to see what people were going to think of the new direction my work has been taking, as there are two Ainscough galleries, one in Chelsea and one in Dartmouth – so this was a good way of reaching people over a large area.  Plus, I have had a long and very happy relationship with this gallery, which was a big factor in me asking to have the show with them.

I did a proper pr campaign about this show with Mel Harris, who very kindly agreed to help me with this for the arts council funded activity plan.  We sent a press release and images out to about 50 selected magazines, newspapers and blogs, and I was so delighted with the results as it got picked up by about 10% of them, including the Sunday Times magazine and the fabulous print and pattern blog (www.printpatternblogspot.com).

I had about 60 pieces of ceramics, five original watercolours and two lino cuts (plus a collage of the two lino cuts mashed up together with some watercolour painting and pencil drawing on it, which I really enjoyed doing and plan to do more of some time!).  There were also 25 hand bound books that were the results of the collaboration between myself and Heather Dewick, a fantastic bookbinder from Sheffield.  I’ll put some photos of these on a page here.

The ceramics included large platters, small platters, large and small bowls, jugs of various sizes and a few cups.  Some of these can be seen on the previous post…

I drove everything down to the gallery in Chelsea, as I couldn’t trust a courier with all of the new work – it was basically everything I’d made since the funding period started, so it was extremely precious!  I had a great time driving through London with my pots – I have never done this before, and it was so interesting to see how quickly the view changes between the end of the M1 and the middle of lovely leafy Chelsea – something I completely miss on the Tube.

I was feeling quite nervous about the reception my new work would get, imagining that people were going to be disappointed not to see much tableware (which is what I have been making since I started my ceramics practice in 2005).  So I was very glad that my mum came up on the train to meet me on the afternoon of the private view!  But I needn’t have worried, as the private view was great and lots of pieces were sold.  Now the exhibition has moved to Dartmouth, and nearly everything has been sold, and I have quite a few commissions to make for people that wanted items that had been sold.  So it couldn’t have gone better really, and I feel very happy that my new work has had such a positive response.  Here are some images of gallery in Chelsea, and the private view.That’s me in the flowery dress, talking to Linda Bloomfield, who makes beautiful porcelain tableware (www.lindabloomfield.co.uk) – I was very glad that she came as I was feeling rather like a lemon at this point; I never know what to say to people at these things!One of the front windows of the gallery, from the outside..Some of the books I designed and Heather Dewick made, together with some tree bowls.

One of the most encouraging things about my exhibiton was that four of the five watercolours I had brought were sold within a week of the show opening, so this has made me feel very positive and keen to do more.  Ken’s Jugs and Succulents are on older posts, and here are Apple Blossom, Rowan and Branches, the other three:This is Apple Blossom, one of my first watercolours, and it’s interesting to see that already my paintings have changed and progressed a bit since then.  (This was painted almost exactly a year ago).  I wouldn’t do those black outlines now, for instance.That’s Rowan, and below is Branches:

I had a call from Potterton Books (www.pottertonbookslondon.com) just before Easter about my watercolours.  They had seen my work at Ainscough Contemporary Art, and invited me to send them a collection of  watercolours for a display to coincide with the Chelsea Flower Show in May.  I was very pleased about this, as they have work by some of my favourite artists and printmakers in there – Mark Hearld, Emily Sutton, Angela Harding and Ed Kluz…so I feel quite honoured to have my work with them!  So this is what I have been doing during the Easter holidays, while the boys were home.

I did a set of three paintings of primulas in pots on plates that I really like – doing these paintings has helped me to identify what is working and what needs to be ironed out with my compositions etc…I really love the theme that is developing of putting handmade or patterned (vintage or contemporary) manufactured ceramics together with various pieces of patterned fabric I’ve collected and including plants or foliage/flowers with them (as leaves and branches etc are very much what inspires my pattern designs), and I’m very much enjoying playing around with different borders. But the thing that always stumps me a bit is the background and the overall positioning of everything –  as I have the pieces on the fabric in front of me, but the background is just a random view of my living room beyond the kitchen table (where I sit while I am painting), so I have to make that bit up, and this is where it all goes a bit woolly, and the endless possibilities of this sudden trip into the realms of imagination leaves me a bit floundery.  So when I have hit upon a good solution for this I will be very happy…anyway, here are some of the paintings I did for Potterton Books (a bit scrappily photographed on my drawing board unfortunately!):This is a plate I bought in my local Oxfam shop as part of a lovely tea set.  The back says ‘Barratts of Staffordshire’ and the pattern is ‘Lilac Fayre’.

I bought this beautiful little square plate from my friend Teresa Green’s new shop and cafe in Exeter (www.belgreen.co.uk), which she has recently opened with her friend and chef Isabel Davies.  We stayed with Teresa for the Easter weekend, and had brunch at Belgreen on Easter Monday.  I can totally thoroughly recommend it to anyone who might be passing nearby!  Teresa has been scouring antiques markets, car boot sales etc, and has collected a gorgeous array of vintage kitchenalia for the shop.  And Isabel makes the kedgeree I have ever eaten.That is one of those tiny little camembert plates that come in sets of four.  I’ve only got  three though, after an unfortunate washing up incident.  See what I mean about those backgrounds?

I am nearly finished with another one, which is of bright green brand new birch leaves from a tree in my garden, in a large Melanie pattern jug.  I just have to finish the detail on the branches and leaves… and maybe put a border around it (maybe not though, I quite like it with the space around it at the moment)So I’ll finish this one and then I had better get on with making some pots for my next big event…which is the contemporary craft fair at Bovey Tracey on 15-17 June (www.craftsatboveytracey.co.uk) – which is always fantastic and a highlight of my calendar!  I also have to make some platters for the Bowie gallery in Hay on Wye (www.hayclay.co.uk), who will have them on their stand at the Hay Festival in May.

new year, new start…

lino cut of christa jug, with branches

Ken's Jugs watercolour

Hello and a very belated happy new year!  It’s nearly 3 months now since I updated last, and a lot has been happening….mainly on the 2d work, two of which are here, just up there…I’ve spent the last month or so concentrating on this side of my development, and I feel at the moment as if I could happily spend another year solidly on printmaking and painting!  Although I am fairly pleased with my progress so far, the printmaking especially has had me tearing my hair out.  It’s a completely new skill for me, and I had forgotten how frustrating it is to want to do something and not to be able to do it perfectly, all at once…it took me back to the days at Hastings college where I did my art foundation course, when I first learned how to throw pots.  Some days then made me so angry the clay ended up being thrown at the wall!  So, the frustrations of the last couple of weeks have helped me (in the end!) to readjust my expectations, and I’m less unrealistic about my progress now.  And actually I am enjoying learning something new – it’s excersising a part of my brain that has been underused for a very long time…

The main problems for me at the moment seem to be in making good compositions, and working out how to make these into a nice, coherent image from several plates when I am doing lino cuts.  I found the thinking backwards that printmaking requires almost impossible to get my head around at first, but as my printmaking mentor, Sarah Young, said – just doing them helps to work this out. Working in two dimensions, not three, is very new to me and I am realising that it takes an awful lot of concentration to get it right.  I did this one, below, of four of my broken cups that sit on the studio windowsill, just to see what a nice big space around the image would do (as my creative mentor, Kate, keeps telling me, to let the image breathe a bit, and not to hem it in with all the detail and borders etc that I have been doing) – and I really like it.

succulents watercolour

I went to spend a day with Sarah Young about a month ago (www.sarahyoung.co.uk), who was enormously helpful, and very kind and patient!  She took me through her processes with lino, and showed me some of her lino blocks, which was absolutely fascinating.  I had a brilliant day with her, and her partner Jon, who helped me make three prints from a four block image that I had done at home, at Inkspot Press in Brighton, which is where they do all their printing.  I left with pages and pages of notes, and lots of ideas.  I stayed over at my parents’ house in Eastbourne, which is coincidentally home to a gallery that I’ve wanted to visit for ages – it being the main gallery of my absolute top favourite printmaker, Robert Tavener.  Emma and Richard Mason, of Emma Mason gallery (www.emmamason.co.uk), have written a biography of Tavener with loads of images of his prints in it, and they have a large collection of his prints at the gallery.  So my mum and I went there first thing in the morning, and Richard Mason very kindly showed me lots of lino blocks that Tavener cut, and gave me a very generous amount of his time talking to me about Tavener and printmaking in general.  And then my mum bought an absolutely beautiful Tavener lithograph, which was very exciting!

My 2d work is mainly focused on still lives of my ceramics and those of other contemporary studio ceramicists that I like – I’m hoping to end up with a nice collection of images of ceramics being produced at the moment, so it will be a kind of record of what is going on in the craft today.  So far I have done several with my own pots, and recently did the one above with Ken Eardley’s jugs in it, also a lino cut of a cup and a jug made by Sue Binns….which is the thing that made me very cross this week, as I just couldn’t get the composition right.  I’m going to do some more work on it, and if it ends up looking OK, I’ll post it on here…

Meanwhile, I had a few holes in my collection of new one off ceramics to make up, so I spent a couple of weeks in early January making these.  I sold a few at the Christmas fairs I attended…which made me very happy, as I wasn’t sure how they would go down with the customers!  I did the fairs ‘Lustre’ at the Lakeside arts centre in Nottingham, and ‘Made’ in Brighton.  I had quite low expectations at both fairs, as it was the first time my new work was put on display, but I was very happy with the sales at both – which was a relief.

The next big event on the horizon is my first solo exhibiton, which is opening on Thursday 8th March at Ainscough Contemporary Art in Drayton Gardens, Chelsea, London (www.acag.co.uk).  Which you and your guests are more than welcome to attend!  All of my new work is going there, including some of the 2d work.  I had a photographer come to take studio shots of the new work before it goes, just in case any of it gets sold…so that I will have something to remember them by (I sold one of my favourite platters to a customer in my studio just before Christmas and I almost didn’t let him have it, I was very sad to see it go!)  Here are some of the images that Iwan Essery (www.iwanessery.com) took:spring deer platter

small tree bowlsfair isle trees jugsky blue tree large bowlcameo tree jugI have another show at another really lovely gallery in early September – I will be one of two makers showing work at the Yew Tree gallery in Morvah, Cornwall (www.yewtreegallery.com).  The exhibiton is called ‘Pastorale’, which fits in perfectly with all the trees I’ve been doing on the ceramics… Plus, I’ll be at the contemporary craft fair at Bovey Tracey in Devon (www.craftsatboveytracey.co.uk), between the 15th and 17th June this year…which I am really looking forward to, as it’s my favourite one to do for lots of reasons…not least the annual barn dance put on by the organisers for the makers!

So, coming up for my creative development time is – a lot more lino cutting, until I get it right, and then onwards, as I think it’s got potential to become as much a part of my creative output as the ceramics are now.  I’m also going to make more platters on the Edward Thomas and other poets theme, plus other one off ceramics such as jugs and vases, and work towards the shows coming up this year.  I’ll put more details about other shows and exhibitions as they come up…and more photos of new work as it happens.  There is an ET platter in the pipeline, to be decorated next week….thanks for looking!

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.

Topiary Garden Greetings Card Design

Summer Trees greetings card designThe image in the centre here is one of the new platters I’ve been working on.  It’s based on an imaginary formal garden, and I’m planning to expand on this theme during the coming months, both on ceramics and with paper.  I’ve made six of them so far, in varying sizes and shapes.  I’ve also made two greetings card designs, with pen and ink, watercolour and collage.  I am very pleased with these and am looking forward to doing more – I’m hoping to do some based on real formal gardens such as the walled kitchen garden at Clumber Park I mentioned previously…


Soren and Tiny Hoops tableware

Hello, welcome to my brand new blog!  I have started it to keep track of a very exciting project that I have just embarked upon.  I was utterly delighted to receive funding from Arts Council England to take me through a year of creative research and development into a new body of work, including one off hand made ceramics, new designs for tableware and a new direction into 2-d work such as drawing, collage and printmaking, and I’m going to keep up to date with my progress through the year here.

My year of creative development has just begun, and the school holidays have started at the same time.  So at the moment I am fielding enquiries about Spiderman, what’s for lunch and when I am likely to be finished using the computer. I think it would be best to concentrate on the admin side of things for the next few weeks…the urge to draw leaves and trees will have to wait until September!

So at the moment, I’m in the middle of a marketing campaign for my collection of 12 greetings cards.  If it all works out, sales of my cards will help me to fund my creative activities far beyond the year of assistance from the Arts Council.  During the coming year, I’ll be adding to the collection with new card designs.  I do love my cards, but they represent the very start of my experiments in two dimensions – it all feels like a very new departure from ceramics at the moment and the designs are developing a lot each time I do new ones.  The most recent ones are taken from some large footed platters that I made in June – they were the first of the new large scale ceramic pieces that I plan to make a lot of in the coming months.  They are a grid design, with dots to represent garden paths and rows of trees like those in formal gardens.  So the cards are a continuation of this, and I’m thinking that I will do more on this theme, as it incorporates a lot of elements that I like to work with – a gridlike structure to the pattern, a simplification of the shapes and symmetry found in nature and repeating motifs.  We have been invited to a family birthday weekend at Clumber Park in north Nottingham this weekend…which happens to have an amazing Victorian walled kitchen garden in it, and I’m thinking I could do a lovely new design based on that…