Saturday, 10 September 2011

Forgotten favorites of a past life ...

I have recently taken delivery of a two A1 folios and a taped up box from my Dad. They had been saved from the skip when my old childhood home was cleared and were taking up space in his new home- so now reluctantly they were here and I had the task of sorting through and disposing of any rubbish as I am a massive hoarded and am already full to capacity !

After a lot of cringing at my old art work, although there were a few gems. 

I found amongst them an illustrated report on The Beatrice Royal Contemporary Art Gallery. A wonderful venue sadly missed as it was closed in the early naughties. This was where I got my first taste of contemporary craft including my current favorite disciplines of ceramics and printmaking. Later I worked as a volunteer gallery assistant during holidays and even assisted the curator visiting "Top draw" to select that years Christmas exhibition work for the craft gallery although I have forgotten exactly which year that was.

The main purpose of this post however is my delight in the rediscovery of ceramicist and "flying potter" Jon Williams.

 I had forgotten the feeling of discovering his work for the first time all those years ago probably around 1996/7 when at the tender age of 16/17. I had first admired his work in the Beatrice royal (image of the gallery as it was) I knew nothing of ceramics but fell in love with the curvy organic forms, it is only now looking back at the work I've produced over the last 14 year I realise just how much Jon's work had inspired and informed my own. The work I'd  been producing during my A levels seemed to be bright brash and sometimes angular and very unrefined as you might expect. 

All of these things are very unlike what I produce now. Although colour is important my shapes and patterns nearly always start with nature inspired curves and circles with more harmonious colour pallets.  Back then I had not yet developed my love of gardening and plant forms, this came later when I suddenly felt I was missing something moving to Stoke and not having plants around me in my student house unlike my family home which I had always taken for granted during my childhood.

As well as seeing Jon William's work in a gallery context and reading the printed out artist info leaflet which accompanied the exhibition (very high tech-life before the Internet as we know it !) I also met Jon at the Chelsea craft fair on my first ever visit I can honestly say that was it a turning point for me I didn't know what I wanted to make yet but I knew I now aspired to exhibit there at Chelsea. Jon was very approachable and I remember him humoring my probably very naive bet genuine questions most likely including that old chestnut "where do you get your inspiration from ?" !! 

And so 14 or so years later here I am looking through my old work and preparing for my next project developing my ceramic practice and here was my original inspiration ! Now with the power of google and the vastness of today's Internet resource it was only a matter of a few click's before I found Jon again and was watching a video about his current work on his Website.

 Listening to him took me back to that conversation at Chelsea and I was no surprise to me that he is now splitting his time between his own practice a teaching. I was also very please to see that he is based really quite close to me and regularly works in the West Midlands.

 I came to Stoke on Trent to study craft over a decade ago at the time specialising in fine metals. I remember being in lecture about the ceramics industry and being board with the history lesson of dates and names. Only recently I finally discovered my love for ceramics after ignoring it for years. perhaps the clay has slowly seeped into me through my pores its taken 10 years !

 Or more likely its because im a hands on person and I completely agree with Jons view that working with clay really is more like play. It was only getting hands on with the material not thinking about design but just enjoying the tactile qualities on a recent project about tea that really got me interested in its potential. 

(below are my first attempts at throwing before and after turning and clean up)

(For what hapened next to these pots see earlier post on this blog)

Now I cant wait to get back to the studio a get playing again !


Tuesday, 30 August 2011

A feast for the eyes and a tonic for the creative soul...

My recent trip to Birmingham to visit my mentor the lovely Ruth Green proved to be a very enjoyable day indeed. 

We printed up a storm, a rare treat for both of us trying out experimental techniques with no real purpose other than fun and discovery. 

Ruth Green's signature Birdie singing his heart out from a vibrant experimental background we made while playing about

 The warm autumnal sunshine poured into the comfy hundred year old home. The high ceilings, and stripped wood spaces were filled by an atmosphere of calm excitement as I discovered find upon find through out the house including the work of fellow print makers and contemporary designers which sat comfortably amongst the affordable  high street furniture and vintage specimens alike.

 a cute elephant plush by Alice Apple perched on top of a trio of vintage suitcases ingenuously used as storage

Ruth like me is a keen gardener and allotmenteer 

 We both enjoyed a lovely lunch of cheese and home made pickle sandwiches accompanied by delicious plum cordial made by my welcoming host herself(I wish I'd taken more photos now but I was far too busy consuming the goodies and chatting away) which was followed by my signature (well really Nigella Lawson's from 'How to be a domestic goddess') Lemon syrup loaf cake I had brought with me as a gift accompanied by coffee. 

Grown by her own fair hand

All was eaten in the comfy retro style kitchen dotted with wonderful examples of kitchenalia which Ruth has lovingly collected. This love of retro imagary mixed with contemporary design is reflected in her work and in her home (of which I was simultainously welcomed into and envious of) 

Thank you Ruth I had a wonderful day and learnt such a lot

Monday, 29 August 2011


I have been doing a lot of soul searching recently as to the direction I should go creatively. I am greedy in nature and so creatively I want to do everything ! SO many techniques, materials and directions to take them so little time and with September approaching fast and the prospect of time to spend investigating at college I have had some decisions to make. 

Being a jack of all trades has tired me out so I have gone with my gut and so ceramic's one of my newest passions (although restricted to college workshops only at present) have won along with screen printing- particularly after my wonderful day of printing and eating handmade goodies at Ruth Green's beautifully homely studio. Such a generous and lovely person - blog post to come soon I promise.

In the meantime if you have children or are looking for a beautiful gift for a baby shower or a child's birthday have a look at this briliant book.. 


Monday, 22 August 2011

Fab Folksy update !

Just a quick post to let you know Petals & Berries Folksy shop is now open !

Adding items slowly but surely so keep checking for the next great items for sale, thanks x