Sunday 30 August 2009

Down in Cornwall with Angela

Our trip to Cornwall nearly didn't happen. My poor little car was more broken than I had at first thought and rather than it just needing a shock absorber replacement, it appears that the whole back suspension has collapsed. The man at the garage told me to throw it away. Booooooooooooooo - What is it with me and cars?

Anyway, I hired a little car and Ang and I travelled down on Thursday evening and stayed at my acclaimed signwriter friend Andrew's(aka Frank) house. He lives in an old china clay worker's cottage, on the top of a hill that overlooks Michael Cardew's now defunct Wenford Bridge pottery.

There's little left of the pottery now, the whole place is a bit of a sorry state, derelict and decaying, although the house still looks much the same as it ever did. I have mixed feelings about it - should it have been preserved in the same way as the Leach Pottery has been in St Ives? I think probably not, it has come to its natural end. We still have Winchcombe Pottery, Cardew's first workshop, as testament to his contribution to the British Studio Pottery movement - I think he made his best pots there too, slipware, but then I'm biased.

The bottle kiln chamber still stands.

Some time ago I was fortunate enough to have been able to purchase the remaining equipment, including Cardew's hump moulds and his kick wheel. The moulds came home to my workshop some time ago, but the wheel, which is a huge and heavy construction, made out of welded girders is currently stored in Frank's garage until my workshop is reorganised in order to fit it in - I can't wait. It's a great thrill for me to own the wheel as MC is one of my biggest influences. I'm pleased to be keeping this stuff within the tradition and one day, when I've had my time, I hope it'll go to someone else for them to do the same.

The next morning(Friday) we headed further down into Cornwall, to St Ives. I think Ang thought these folk were absolutely crazy - she wasn't too impressed with the English climate. Come to think of it, I thought they were crazy too.

We went to the Leach Pottery. I was only there a couple of weeks ago with Ron and my other blogging chums. Of course we had to take the all important fireplace shot.

We also met Richard James there, he's the pottery's technician and an occasional visitor to this blog. It was good to meet up with him - and take the obligatory fireplace shot of course.

Oh - and another one!

This is Bernard's three chamber climbing kiln.

From St Ives, we travelled to Penzance and to the workshop of Lincoln Kirby-Bell, an Australian potter, now resident here and a friend of Ang's from back home. He makes amazing, funky slipware, with colourful, trailed lines and dots. Ang bought Hil a mug, which she likes very much.

We headed home and got back in time to unpack the kilns which contained the last of the pots that Ang made while she was here. I'll get pictures up of those in a separate post.

Ang had a little gadget(she is gadget girl)on which she shot lots of video, subsequently edited and posted on her blog. There's some really good footage, stuff in the workshop, film of the village where I live and the surrounding countryside, kiln firing at Nic's and much more. Ang is posting new ones all the time, check them out

It's Bank Holiday here tomorrow and the last day for Hil before she goes back to school for the Autumn term. The boys go back later in the week, so I'll pack and fire a bisc kiln, but will spend the day doing something family related. Oh yes, I don't think I reported back, Luke did really well in his GCSE's and of course got his A in art - it's proud dad time once again.

Happy Monday all.

Rock and bloomin' roll

That went pretty well thank goodness, it's the first gig we've played in six months - the last one was dreadful due to the bad sound on stage and I for one, went away feeling very negative, so this one was really make or break for the band. It's good to play live and loud again.

Next weekend we're playing at Nic's kiln build party, which is always good fun.

Nic's running a video blog of the kiln build in progress, featuring Blogger Andrew.

To see it,

Saturday 29 August 2009

Love Daddy Rock

We've had the best of times with Angela, who hopped on a train to Wolverhampton today to stay with family. What a lovely lady, we're missing her already. I've lots of pictures to post of the last couple of days' adventures with her which I'll do later, right now I need to go to bed. Tomorrow I've got a gig with the Love Daddies at a local festival, it'll be the first one since this tuneless video clip was filmed back in February. Rock and bloomin' roll

Wednesday 26 August 2009

A trip to Blogger Paul's

Yesterday we took a trip to Somerset to visit Blogger Paul. This picture was taken outside the building which is set to become his new workshop in January. It's a great space.

His workshop is situated within the estate of Barrington Court, which has the most beautiful walled gardens. I love gardening and I think if my workshop was there, I would find these a huge distraction. Just look at the pretty flowers on this picture.

Last night we went up to the workshop to carry on working. I'm trying to get Ang's pots through the kiln so that she can take some of them home with her. Here's Ang, nose to the grindstone once again, sgrafittoing some plates. These are inspired by some pots from a book I have about Cypriot pottery. There are some really good video streams of all this stuff happening and much more on Ang's blog.

Marky Mark came up too - it was great to see him, he's been away for a month to Mexico.

Today we had a trip planned to St Ives, but the shock absorber has gone on my car so Hil and Ang have headed into Exeter to get it repaired. They'll go into town for lunch and a wander around the shops and a bit of girl time. Hil's enjoyed having some female company in this male dominated house.

I'm staying home to carry on scratching away at a sgrafitto jug commission that I've been working on for a while - these things take forever.

We've rescheduled the Cornwall trip for Friday.

Luke's GCSE results come out tomorrow morning. He worked hard for them so I think he'll have done ok. Certainly the ceramics that he did for his Art should have given him a good chance of an A grade - fingers crossed.

Sunday 23 August 2009


Don't mention The Ashes....

I mentioned it once but I think I got away with it.

Wednesday 19 August 2009

Ang in action

Ang and I have been in the workshop making pots these last two days. My wheel hasn't been as clean as this since it was new.

Angela made three teapots. I'm looking forward to seeing them with slip on tomorrow. Ang hasn't made slipware before, so it'll be the first time she'll see her pots at that magic moment when they're covered in glistening, wet slip.

She pressed out a dish on one of the Michael Cardew moulds that I acquired a few months ago. Take a closer look at the fruits of Ang's

Last night we took her to watch Exeter City play football, where she learned a few new songs to sing in the shower. Poor girl, she's feeling the cold in this typical English summer.

We're off to Nic's place tomorrow afternoon where I'm going to be giving a throwing demo to the delegates at one of Nic's kiln courses. Blogger Andrew will be there, looking forward to seeing him again.

To the pub now for a game of skittles. Goodnight.


The fireplace at the Leach Pottery must have witnessed many a philosphical discussion between Leach, Hamada and the many other great masters who stood before its sooted sconces....

As this picture demonstrates, the tradition continues today ;)

(Thanks to Ron for the picture.)

Tuesday 18 August 2009

My lovely blogging chums

Thank you all for the kind birthday wishes, cards, and e-cards. I had a lovely birthday, some fantastic gifts, pots, and books that I'll write about at a later date. Blogger Ang from Australia also arrived and Hannah and her fella Paul - more about that later too.

This post is about my great blogging buddy Ron Philbeck and his lovely wife Sarah who came to stay with us last week. The batteries died on my camera and I just didn't get around to replacing them, so I've been dependant upon waiting for Ron to upload his photos

This is a picture of the moment that Ron and I first met, my face swollen as I was in mid migraine, having spent the night before in and out of the tent, throwing up, delightful. It's not easy doing this quietly on a camp site.

This is my pitch. Hil had to (wo)man my stand while I was trying to sleep off my illness in the tent. I was rescued by Wendy with a miracle cure. Check her link by the way, she has a great collection of pots. Thank you Wendy and thank you to all the folk who bought pots or stopped to chat, it was my best show yet.

Here's Ron with my great friend Paul Young...

and the ever sweet, Dylan Bowen. Hil gave me one of his beautiful platters for my birthday, lucky me.

Svend's pots

Nic building a small oil fired kiln that he demonstrated at the event. Nic runs great courses in kiln building, I think there are still a couple of spaces left for this year's course, you can check it out on his site.

Here we are with Blogger Paul, who came along to Art in Clay. Later in the week I delivered Ron and Sarah to Paul's place where they stayed before heading back to London. Paul gave us a tour of his workshop and the National Trust property where it is situated, amongst beautiful gardens. It was good to see Paul's place - I have a show with him next month as part of Somerset Arts Week, more about that later.

We also had a great day out at the Leach Pottery in St Ives, with Blogger Andrew and Hannah and Paul. I'll post more pictures later when I can pinch theirs.

So Ron headed back to the States and Ang flew in from Aus, missing each other by a day. This final pic shows Hannah and Ang and me outside my house on Sunday. Poor Ang, she spent so much on her air fare that she could no longer afford shoes.

Well I'd better go as it's time to get back to work for the first time in a couple of weeks, to show Ang my chaotic workshop and for Ang to get some red mud under her nails. More later, have a good day all.

Sunday 16 August 2009

It's my birthday!

It's my birthday today. Here's a fab card made for me by my American namesake, the well renowned artist and theatre director, what's his name? Ah yes, Doug Fitch

Saturday 15 August 2009

Mark Titchiner

My friend Jon, pictured on the right, lives near where we were holidaying and took me for a trip out to see Mark Titchener, here in the blue shirt.

Jon has a very fine collection of studio pottery, check out his website to see some wonderful pots, click.............. here.

Here are some pictures from Mark's place, a beautiful house and workshop in rural Suffolk.

This is his showroom.

Inside the workshop.

huge jars, glazed and awaiting firing.

Mark has a big downdraught kiln, similar in design to Clive Bowen's - here's the chamber

and this is the chimney, reminiscent of the many ancient windmills that we saw across Suffolk and Norfolk.

I came away with this fabulous jar.

More later, with news from Art in Clay and Ron and Sarah's visit to England.

Friday 14 August 2009

Holiday snaps

Hello everybody

Lots has been happening, it's going to take me a while to report everything, but we've been having a fantastic time, holidays in the sun, Art in Clay at Hatfield, Ron and Sarah over from the States.

Here are a few holiday snaps to get things started - more later.