Gnarly Dudes Exhibition revisited

The new Gnarly Dudes Exhibition featuring the work of Nic Collins, Charles Bound, Jon Fellows and Chuck Schwartz, will take place at The Barn Pottery, Moretonhampstead on 18th-19th April 2015. Check it out on facebook: Gnarly Dudes Exhibition

Writing about the revisited exhibition, Charles says:

“As I recall, Michael Cardew considered returning to Africa an unexpected gift and opportunity. Another Gnarly Dudes sees of similar prospects, in this case to put together a representation of what has changed for each of us. Certainly ageing, we are more gnarly in appearance, and perhaps skill, knowledge and grace of occasionally a pot or two transcending expectations: worth seeing as if a group retrospective. Its value also it seems to me will be in getting a look at what may have evolved in this small wood-fired ghetto of the pottery world and its problematics with antecedents, references, rights of existence, hubris, etc.”

New Ceramics magazine

There is a wonderful article by Eddie Curtis in the January 2015 edition of New Ceramics.

Wandering Rims

Drinking coffee from some French bowls with the winter sun horizontal along the table, accentuating light on the bowl rims as you picked them up, I noticed the slight undulations of those rims and then the others checked as a consequence: all rolling variance. The pleasure in it was the pleasure in it.  Also the thought how rich that ripple makes a simple bowl, how depleted its counterpart cast industrially.  And to think there was an idea around when I got into this all that a serious objective could be to do what industry did but better.  Yep, finally specifically seen: wandering rims.

Twenty years of pot making has proved finally an exercise in learning to see

Twenty years of pot making has proved finally an exercise in learning to see: from throwing things out in a sort of rage at their incompatibility on opening kilns with existent ideas to hunting through shard piles finding interesting random breakage, pieces in the long grass ignored for years, transformed by neglect. Perhaps a looking aside, glancing without intent, a disinterestedness toward my own work provided the opportunity to begin appreciating what is there.

It sent me off to a nearby art college to do some drawing, maybe get past the limitations of what I understood and how used the skills acquired making, building kilns, making some more, working as a technician, teaching, helping on a farm, shuffling through the days. Perhaps I’d just gotten past the rush of achieving some skills, doing things never though about before, much less considered personally possible: that slow accretion of capacity ready to be used after passing what Michael Cardew noted at seven years in when you have changed all your cells and become a potter.

So I’m working on better seeing, recognising shallow unconsidered work while struggling to do otherwise. It’s not quirky originality or uniqueness in the quest, more a referenced depth of good work one occasionally encounters(whether a pile of amphorae dredged from centuries in the seas or a contemporary maker’s referencing some part of clay’s varied provenance) is mostly missing.

So I’ve gone to college, gather solace being engaged among others engaging with similar, familiar, problems, and find myself using on paper techniques natural to clay, realising how relatively unimportant particular materials are. How I return that to a large investment in kiln, wood pile, etc remains to be seen.

A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone

Since moving to Wales, we have considered and reconsidered how to manage two fields, the residue of a farm last worked years ago. We arrived here in April with all the grasses and flowers erupting, their verier beauty particularly vivid compared to the surrounding farmed land. Meadow had long been reforming. So we thought how to enhance it, help it along, play a part in what was going on. We would walk these fields daily with our cats, scheming, watching the ongoing show, distribution of light as species grew, seeded, gathered birds and insects, and finally on the edge of autumn were cut. We acquired some wild flower seeds, selectively trimmed the hedged to re-find individual trees, planted some, kept walking, talking, working on the idea of these fields.

The seeds remain unplanted. Each year the fields do just about what they did the year before, but slightly different: new species arrive, old ones have greater or less ascendancy. And each year our original enthusiasm is modified by the nature of the fields about their business.

The other week traversing a high ridge of beech trees in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, having walked up past the Moores and Hepworths, a series of shed size milk crate sculptures, we stepped through a kissing gate. Along our left was a rebuilt dry stone wall abutting another running away down a gully and to the right higher up. A section was unfinished, the stones lying about waiting to be organised into the wall. Large stone steps took us onto the ground above that then descended toward ponds. Looking back there was no wall: a totally constructed effect now restated for whoever might walk their dog, imagination.

I thought: nice wall, the skill and simplicity of it, the way it gathers in, bends consideration to its surroundings.

We had been to a ceramics fair the day before to see friends, what people were working on, the aesthetic and technical solutions. The stone wall in the woods overwhelmed everything we had seen there, perhaps because it asked one to be aware of what was around it more than of itself. I could imagine it tumbling down over the years from the pressure of frost and roots and burrowing, being rebuilt much the same but slightly different, a thing evolving, always there one way or another, not needing storage or insurance.

You can see here an interest in the discrepancy between such easy graces and the way we seem to go about creating what we do for special attention. And sometimes it feels as if I should have an opinion about such things, but to do so seems rebarbative to the surprises that give delight wherever they might appear. Of course, I carry on doing my thing and take pleasure getting on with it, the process that occasionally produces something with resonance beyond itself, the making, remaking, doing again, working over the same terrain, the ordinariness of it, thinking, this time maybe . . . But it doesn’t happen like a field, a wall.

So I go on like anyone else finding interesting what for me separates one thing’s appeal from another, worry it, forget it, pursue the hubris of my luck to be making at all after most of a life otherwise, seeing how things succeed and fail in their own ways.

Perhaps there’s something in that I’m writing this while early stoking a kiln realising how relative a part I now have in what will be unpacked eventually.