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