Sunday, 3 February 2013

Onward and upwards

Hello big wide world. It's been a long time since I braved this territory, but here I am, making a difficult first step back into the public domain.

Since my last post, I have endured some of the toughest of times of my life. I won't go in to too much detail here for the sake of others involved, but my life has changed dramatically in the past couple of months and I am now a single man for the first time in over twenty years. It's a sorry situation. I'm staying with some incredible friends, who have taken me in, looked after me and made me part of their beautiful little family. I have been blessed with some extraordinary friends, who have rallied round to help me to make the start of the year a much more positive situation that it otherwise might have been.

Here is Alistair, who turned up on New Years Eve, dragged me out of my miserable, inactive stupor and set about motivating an immense transition to the workshop, with the conversion of the earth-floored woodshed, into a proper working space.

With Different Dave managing the project, Marky Mark, Alistair and his friend Pete on the team, we dug and barrowed and dug and barrowed, tonne after tonne of earth and hardcore and concrete over a two week period, mostly in torrential rain. It was great to get busy and to not have to think about making pots, with my inspiration at an all time low. Winter is always a struggle for me, this one particularly.
Here's the outside apron at the front of the workshop, which is usually sticky with mud.
Now replaced with concrete(actually this the back, I've got the picture below where this one should be)
And at last proper drainage, to help prevent the flooding of my kiln shed which has been happening with such regularity after one of the wettest winters on record - oops, that's the picture above.
So here's the new west wing. It still has to have the end wall constructed, with a door and window. The whole building will be insulated and lined out with a stud wall before it's finished, but the earthworks are done and that's the major part of the job. The rest can be completed as and when I have the time and the money. It was an extraordinarily positive beginning to the year, in a dreadfully negative situation. 

As the old cliche goes, it's at times like this, that you find out who your real friends are - and there have been some wonderful people who have been there for me, virtually, physically and metaphorically, to hug me tight when I've cried. As for the others, the ones who have been judgmental, or just don't have the time for me and are notable by their absence - I'm best rid. My true friends love me in spite of everything and to have such folk in my life, makes me a very lucky man 

Trying to make pots has been extremely difficult. I have come very close to giving it all up on a number of occasions. But what else can I do? I hate it with the same energy as I love it. It's the only thing that I'm reasonably good at. It has been a constant struggle to find confidence, motivation and focus and the stress is compounded daily with the number of pressing deadlines. The first is an exhibition in Tokyo in April, which will require a hundred or so pieces. I have about forty of them made, mostly small stuff - lots of jugs of course.
 Some little tapered jugs, these are about 6" tall...
1.5lb baluster jugs
This little jug and will be green when fired. It's about 6" tall. I don't usually make many small pots, I'm much more comfortable with bigger pieces, my hands trace out the forms so much more readily on the wheel.
 These are 3lb jugs
and this a 5lb jug.

3lb jugs, slipped and decorated in a variety of colours.
I've made some jars too - bowls, dishes, teapots, mugs, still to go.

Today I must get busy again. I need to get a positive head on my shoulders and try and lose myself in my work. This could go one way or the the other very easily. Sometimes, a lot of the time in fact, it feels as though there's no reason for making this stuff any more and particularly just right now as I have to find my inspiration from within. I almost threw the towel in yesterday and would have slumped into a deep depression had it not have been for some wise words from a couple of good friends, who gave me a shake and put me back on my feet. So I tidied the workshop up instead, ready to try and make the best pots of my life.

Here comes a new era - onward and upwards.


97 comments:

cookingwithgas said...

My heart is with you. I know this must be very hard for you all.
Love it and hate it this is what we do. I,we, just talked about this yesterday. Those words rang so true for me.
This is what we know.
I too find it hard to work right now. Lucky me Mark is working.
Best, m

Gary's third pottery blog said...

oh geez, you poor guy.... sorry about the situation...I am always grateful to be a potter in bad times, it can be hard to get rolling but it is a wonderful and constructive meditation once you get rolling.... best wishes

Dennis Allen said...

Wishing you an early spring and a brighter future.The construction project sounds like good therapy.The immediate feedback always makes me feel good.

MomCavePottery said...

I have been missing your posts. I was hoping you were having a wonderful vacation...not so much :< My husband told me that when he got divorced, friends took sides and he was no longer welcome. A painful experience but he was glad to know who his friends really were and not waste his time with the rest.(he had some really GOOD words for them that I can't post) Anyway, you must always make pottery...they are so beautiful. Better drainage for your workshop must be a beautiful thing too!

Tracey Broome said...

Doug, this was sad to read and my heart hurts for you. It's really weird, but I woke up this morning thinking about this blog thing and how it all started for me. Your blog was the first blog I ever read, then Hannah's then Hollis and now look where I am with it all. I have enjoyed the journey with you, love your work and your efforts and enjoy reading your heart felt posts so much. I am so very sorry for this turn of events and I hope you are able to stay strong and throw all that is going on in your head right now into the clay. Channel it to a positive end maybe.
Will be thinking about you.....
xo

shauna said...

Hugs from a stranger in Canada. I have been reading your blog for the last year and loving every minute of it.
I'm sorry to hear of your rough times and send hugs and support from across the pond.
Hold tight to those close friends, let go of those others.

B. Rogers, Living in Black Mountain said...

I wish time didn't bring changes in relationships...but people do grow in different directions, kind of like the plants you depicts so elegantly on your pottery. Whatever you may feel like today, do go forward one small step at a time. And in a while you can look back and see the beauty you've been creating that is your gift to the world. Virtual hugs from an old gal who knows a bit about feeling blue.

Hollis Engley said...

It's good to see the re-making of that part of your life, Doug. You know the old joke: Good friends will help you move; really good friends will help you move a body. Sounds like you have some metaphorical really good friends helping you move yourself onward. You know, I hope, that you have many friends on this side of the pond who love you and admire the work you do. Dee and I are among them. Keep moving upward.

singingbirdartist said...

yes, onwards and upwards, it's not just splits, i was shocked who dropped me when my husband died...but i threw myself into new approaches to creativity (oil painter to mixed media installationist etc) and that reeeeallly helped. i made new friends too, but being able to be creative in ways that didn't trigger memories/negativity helped lots. you have a lot on your plate, and lots of plates to make, so if possible give yourself some creative playdays too? all good wishes, hang on in...

Betsy C said...

Doug, so glad to see the new work. Sorry you have been going through so much. Sending you much love and blessings for brighter days ahead from across this great pond. Sounds like you have good friends and support, know you have many worldwide thinking of you. Looking forward to seeing more of your posts and beautiful pottery!

Thomas L said...

ah what sad news doug i hope this year will be alot better for you, a fresh start if you like, the erathworks look as if they could stop any downpour (we should know had probs with flooding ourselves)

all the best doug.

Thomas.

Trish said...

Doug..I am sending unward and upward best wishes from across the pond too. I wondered where you were these last few months, and sorry to hear what you were dealing with...Please continue making your beautiful work, healing along the path...
The new concrete is great!
Trish from Alberta

Trish said...

Sorry,... make that ONward and Upward... :)

virginia russell said...

So sorry to hear about the bad times. I've been missing your posts.

Kimberly Medeiros said...

Doug,Thinking of you,during these tough times.Glad to hear you have made some progress with your studio space.It looks great.Blast some music, and blast out some pots! Get that fire burning.I know you've lots more beauty to create.Sending hugs, and motivating visions to you!

dawt said...

Aww, I'm so very sorry you're going through this. It sounds like you have some awesome, caring friends, such a treasure. It's great you have a new addition to the shop and are keeping busy getting ready for April. I've missed your YouTube videos terribly. Looking back at the last one it was kind of metaphoric. Are the ducks still getting along?

Emma said...

Hig hug Doug - will bring battenburg in April. E x

Paul Jessop said...

So where do you want this Body moving to??? see you soon buddy.

Tracey Broome said...

We could dump it in the ocean?!

bighillpottery said...

I'm another pottery from Canada...Cape Breton Island actually and have been quietly following your blogs for ages, thro Tony Clennell's blog. I just want to add my best wishes to you in such a crappy time...been there too a few years ago and i sure know the measure of a good friend or two in such a situation....they are priceless! heartfelt best wishes to you and it'll get easier - cheers, Linda

bighillpottery said...

Sorry...i'm not a Pottery...i'm just a potter :P

Kings Creek Pottery said...

Move a muscle, change a thought- an old saying I turn to in times of saddness, fear, or whatever demons have taken hold in my mind. Having been through a split myself, I can assure you it gets better. One day at a time, or hour or minute...keep moving through it. Sending you support~

Susan said...

Huge hugs to you.

One hour at a time, and for those days when you can't manage an hour a minute will do.

Take care of yourself.

Lindsey said...

glad you're back..the wheel keeps turning

Joseph Travis said...

I'm so sorry that it has been a hard winter.

I should really check my backlog of blog posts before emailing people

jim behan said...

Glad to see you back Doug. Amid all the uncertainties in life one thing is sure. You make great pots. My very best wishes to you.

Sandy miller said...

Ahhhhhh Doug, so sorry to read this. Been missing your posts in the dark of winter. Sometime life flows and boy sometimes life just steam rolls us. Your new space is wonderful!! I would sit with my friends in that new space and have a cup of tea or mug of brew! Peaceful steps on your new journey.
Here's to hot fires and great friends!

David Barber said...

Thanks for continuing to post Doug. Your blog has been a source of great enjoyement for myself and , clearly, lots of others. All the best in this tough time.

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