Friday, 26 January 2018

A year to follow

A few years ago, I wrote about my annual challenge to get out of 'my comfort zone' - to learn something new, to stay alert, and to explore my boundaries. Now I find myself asking the question, is there a point at which that feeling of being out of my comfort zone starts to feel more comfortable and familiar than that of actually being in my comfort zone? 

The answer to that question is Yes. I have reached that point. What are my limits, and what happens if you go beyond them?    

Last year I was to find out.

2017 presented many challenges, surprises and rewards. I realise now that I thrive on them. I compare the beginning of each year to a blank sheet of paper before starting a drawing - feel the excitement, the anticipation, the daring, the unknown. I start with a sketch, an outline, but then know full well to stay open and alert to unexpected spontaneous gestures, mistakes, changes in dynamic. With this approach, 2017 was amazing and gruelling at the same time - often running on empty, and yet exhilarated. Some of it was planned, some of it came totally from leftfield. A year of opposites....which go to form the Whole.

Opening day at Ceramic Art London, Central St Martin's
Ceramic Art London last March was a first for me, and set a high bar for the rest of the year. I've learnt you are always more capable than you realise - but there are no shortcuts! It still takes huge energy, drive, and plenty of hard work. There are many highlights to choose from, but here's a small selection from a brilliant year.

Contemporary Ceramics Gallery, London, with Martin Pearce & Paul Wearing
Bircham Gallery, Norfolk, with painter, Chris Prout
Earth & Fire ceramic fair at its new home, Welbeck, Nottinghamshire

Les journees des ceramiques, St Sulpice, Paris

Teaching at La Meridiana International Ceramics School, Tuscany, Italy

Front page of the Neue Keramik magazine (4/17), with a 5-page article by Eddie Curtis, was icing on the cake.
The last few years have seen a growth in maturity in my recent work, both in scale and increasingly sophisticated surfaces. This progress has been acknoweldged as my award of the Neue Keramik prize in 2016, and also as a prizewinner of the Diessen International Ceramic award, Bavaria, Germany. My solo exhibition Hidden Depths was part of the Neue Keramik prize, and was held at the Landesmuseum for Art and Culture in Oldenburg, Germany. A massive learning curve to manage the logistics of the show, international delivery, curating and selling. An example of partnership at its best with thanks to the Neue Keramik magazine, staff at the Oldenburger Werkstatt, the Landesmuseum for Art and Culture.


Characteristic of Bavarian doorway

Diessen Ceramic Prize winners 2017


Hidden Depths solo exhibition at Landesmuseum, Oldenburg, Germany

At the opening of Hidden Depths. Overwhelmed!

What's in store for 2018?  Keep an eye on the What's On page of my website. 

I'm looking forward to it already, particularly the 1 month residency at Guldagergaard International Ceramic Resource Centre, Denmark (part of the Neue Keramik award).  

What I've learnt from all this is to keep looking toward the new horizons, and to continually ask two questions

What Lies Out There? and What Lies Within?

Lake District

Tuesday, 22 November 2016


A lot has happened since my last post, and I'm pleased, and relieved, to say the mood is a lot more optimistic than my last post.

My classes have continued to thrive in the new Harley Ceramics Studio, near to my workshop. It's a fabulous location with a well equipped studio.

The classes run throughout the year, so please email me if you would like to know more details.

Slip and resist techniques on handmade tiles
Sgrafitto and inlay work
Application of handles to thrown mugs
Modelled and pinched animal sculptures
The working area and display of collected ceramics

Friday, 30 January 2015

Now then...

 As I was saying....

January, 2015. Snow. Cold. Dark nights. Nature in its natural place. For now.

A tidy workshop. A tidy desk. A tidy mind. For now.
There's a saying, isn't there? Tidy desk means a tidy mind. Or is it, empty desk, empty mind?
You choose.

A tidy workshop ready for open studios last November

It's been difficult to concentrate recently. Bad news first. The last few weeks have had a very serious, and very worrying nature to them, with the news that Rufford Craft Centre in Nottinghamshire will close this year in July. The County Council has finally got its claws into the arts service, once and for all. This has far reaching implications on so many people - artists, arts staff, students, schools, communities of many kinds.

The arts facilities, in particular specialised ceramic equipment, is the best in the area by a mile, and the skill, support, and expertise of the arts staff is outstanding. The Earth and Fire International Ceramic Festival will see it's last year here I will lose all my ceramic classes, and this has disturbing consequences on my work practice, as they provide my bread and butter. All devastating news. But something else will come up. A big year of change looms.

Let's focus on the good things for now (and there are lots of them!), and get up to speed on events over the last few months. Here are some of my favourite moments.

My fabulous students at our Christmas fuddle at Rufford Craft Centre.

  A few examples of the lovely pots my students have made. I'm very proud of them all.

Susanne, helped by potter, Johannes Peters, and Steph.

Hoards of collectors arriving by ferry at Diessen Ammersee for the annual ceramic event.

On my way home after Diessen, I always enjoy my stay after with Susanne Lukacs-Ringel in the Schwaebische Alps. Here she is unpacking her salt kiln.

Ladenburg Marketplatz (I lived in the flat on the right)

A brief visit to visit Ladenburg, Baden-Wurttemberg. I lived here as a language student many moons ago.

For a fleeting moment, I considered a career change when I saw this cafe sign in Holland!

Great fun as demonstrator at Art In Action, Waterperry, Here I'm demonstrating a bark vessel, assisted by my lovely helper, Betul.

I managed to squeeze some walking in the Lake District, luckily on a sunny weekend.

And finally, here are a few of my favourite pots from last year. Catch up with you again soon.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Lots to say...





Quietly confident.

It's all happening in the workshop now. I've found my flow. All I can say is, it's always a good sign when I have to wipe my feet on the way out of the workshop!

Lots to say, and lots to show.
But I won't.
Not now.

Instead, I'll leave you with a taste of what you're likely to see on my stand this year.
Come and see.

Here are some excellent photos taken today by Mr David Binch of Oakwood Ceramics

Only one week to go before I hit the road (and ferry) and head off to Germany for the first of this year's shows. Here goes! See you soon.

Monday, 24 March 2014

No Flies On Me!

I can tell Spring is on its way.

Insect life is starting to twitch.

Flies are a particular nuisance. Flies are a particular nuisance when they land on your head in the middle of throwing. My wheel must be under a squadron of kamikaze flies and wasps that bomb dive full throttle from the rafters directly above me. I'm sorry that they take that attitude to my new work, but I wish they'd make a protest in another part of my workshop - set up a picket line, or start a campaign on, or something. It's a bit over the top!

Kamikaze fly
Spectator pots on rafters

Insects aren't the only species that are starting to twitch. I am too. I'm now fully out of hibernation and getting cranked up into full potting mode. It's going to be a busy potting season again this year. I thought I'd paced it quite nicely, but looking at my diary, I can see I've got 7 events in 10 weeks. (I'll put details of the events on my website homepage.) I feel a bit like a rabbit in the headlights at the moment with another daunting schedule. Every year I wonder whether I'll have the energy to do this, and every year, I think to myself there's nothing else I'd rather be doing. I think it appeals to the masochistic side of my nature. Nevertheless, a lot of work to do.

The past few weeks I've been pursuing the Bark theme I started in Australia. They are coming on well, but I have to admit, it takes me a while to get into my rhythm of making, and particularly glazing. I've just put a batch in the kiln, so tomorrow, we'll see... I started playing the CD of Australian bush birds to get me in the mood, but I had to switch it off as I could feel the waterworks starting!!

Slipping time

 Favourite slipping music Pray For Rain by Massive Attack on repeat!

I wonder how the glazing will turn out.........

PS This is a short post. Not intentional. I've just spent the best part of 2 hours putting this post together, and then forgot to save it! Double drat! Now Blogger has a mind of its own and I've now given up. Normally I'm a patient person, but I've just thrown my dummy out the pram. It looks like the fly is on me after all!!
Till next time.

Job opportunity: Marketing Assistant anyone?



Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Carpo Diem

...starting from tomorrow!

I can't believe it's such a long time since my last post. Time has whizzed by.  As I sit and question what on earth I've been doing these last 3 months, I'm aware this is the last day of 2013, the last day of what has been a Huge and Unforgettable year for me. Wow!

Chawan at Embassy of Japan, London
I had a nice little surprise in October when I was invited to take part in an exhibition at the Embassy of Japan in London. It was called Chawan : Insight into Beauty. All participants submitted a few chawan tea bowls : they had to be functional which meant I adapted my choice of slips and glazes which gives them a calm and contemplative quality I feel.

Here are a couple of examples. I was delighted to take part in the exhibition, and very pleased with the results too. More to follow in 2014!

Making has now stopped for a few weeks.  I deliberately stop making at this time of the year. To be honest,  I've run out of steam, or clay, or both. The idea is that when I start again, I'll have a new release of energy and will be chomping at the bit to get cracking. I now have chance to catch up, reflect, and try to get organized. Very virtuous.

For a while now, I've been collating thoughts and pictures from my residency in Australia to put together in some kind of document, although I haven't quite decided yet what form it will take. It's taking hours and hours and hours - some of it constructive, some of it just daydreaming. I'm sure I'll have more news on this in my next post.

For those of you who have trouble daydreaming, listen to this lovely little song I'm A Dreamer by Josephine Foster, not advisable if you are already prone to daydreaming. I first listened to this song in September, and look where we are now - it's December 31st!!)

Bark vessel
I've also put together a leaflet on my residency too. You can download your copy from this link:

Robin Welch bowl

The RWFC (Robin Welch Fan Club) and I went to see Robin's work at the Sainsbury's Centre, Norwich.  If you're looking for a day out, it's a fascinating exhibition called Materpieces: Art & East Anglia (
Here's a picture of a very handsome Robin Welch bowl which was bought by the Attenborough's in the 60's. It was in good company alongside Elizabeth Fritsch, Lucie Rie and Hans Coper pieces.
Stunning setting at SCVA  with Mrs Welch and Mr McInnes.

Tuesday class at Rufford Craft Centre

My classes at Rufford Craft Centre wrapped up nicely with a festive fuddle. I'm lucky to have a great bunch of enthusiastic students. A big thank you to all of them for their good humour, application, and support. They make pretty good pots too and make Tuesdays a highlight of the week. Thank you everyone!

 A blog post wouldn't be complete without a few pictures of The Outside (and they also count towards one of your 5-a day). Here are a few I took around Hathersage/Stanedge Edge, Derbyshire, on Boxing Day this Christmas.



In my first blog back in January (There's No Other Place Like Home?, I mentioned eating frogs. Time to clarify - I was referring to a great motivational book I'd read by Brian Tracy, Eat that Frog, 21 ways to stop procrastinating. The Frog in question at that time had been applying for my residency at Sturt. And look what happened. Watch this for a taste:

And thinking about the question There's No Other Place Like Home?, I think the answer for me is yes, definitely, as I found out this year during my residency. It's also made me aware that home isn't necessarily related to a physical place. It's more about the knowledge that  if you know where you heart lies, then that's when you've found home.

To end the post with a little sunshine, peace and a relaxing moment, I've included this short video I took whilst having sandwiches at Reef Bay, Sydney.
Thanks so much to the Bush and my bush walking buddies.

I wish you all the very best for 2014. Thank you so much for reading my blog and I look forward to another exciting year to tell you about. Happy New Year.