Up the garden path

Discussing new work with artists and makers is always a treat – going to see it even more so, but few such visits combine a wonderful stroll through an idyllic garden.  Ceramicist Pauline Lee, whose stunning torsos I’ve had in several of my exhibitions lives in the most beautiful setting on the edge of Dartmoor.    open studio 2010 008 (640x427)

Pauline often takes part in the National Gardens Scheme ‘Gardens Open for Charity’ and adds extra decoration with some of her work.  As this year’s event was the day before my visit, it was to the garden rather than the studio we headed to select new pieces.  And my student intern, Summer Varley, who is giving invaluable assistance in getting the gallery for the new show, was with me and able to help take some photographs of our lovely morning.

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Developed over many years, the garden is a wonderful blend of traditional English country style with a hint of tropical, and the fact that this is all this just a mile or so from the starkness of Dartmoor makes it all the more magical.

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After a few sharp showers earlier in the day the sun was shining and the garden was looking especially vibrant.  Pauline’s sculptural pieces and more functional urns nestled amongst flowers and shrubs looking almost as if they had somehow organically grown out of the soil.

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Much of Pauline’s work is inspired by her garden and indeed elements of her garden are used in it  – she works with leaves, and seed head skeletons to create her quite individual style of texture on much of her work especially her beautiful torsos.

Pauline torsos

 

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I love the way Pauline’s work flows through the garden and is used in all the individual pockets she has created.  This summer house is just perfect!

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After a very enjoyable stroll, we came up with our selection

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Pauline in her garden

What a wonderful morning, and almost as soon as we drove away the clouds that had collected above the moors released a torrent of rain, making the time in Pauline’s garden in the sunshine seem all the more special.

Pigs Might Fly

Being told that someone is famous for their pigs – especially when you live in the country – does conjure up imagery of well tended farmyards and bright coloured rosettes at county show prize giving. But when I met Paul Cardew for the first time several years ago I quickly discovered the pigs in his life are more likely to be on a shelf than a pig sty as they’re the ceramic kind that you save your pennies in.

In the 1980s Paul was asked to design a range of piggy banks for Nat West, which very quickly fired up a generation of young savers eager to get their hands on the family of pigs.  Needless to say their popularity continues today and all the pigs are highly collectable.  In his Cornish studio Paul continues to make them for the legions of fans across the world, including these new limited edition ‘Six Nations’ Rugby pigs – I love this Scottish Rugby pig!

Rugby pigs

As well as pigs, and his ‘eccentric’ teapots – his other ‘claim to fame’ – Paul continues to make one and off and small batch ceramic pieces many of which have been highlights of exhibitions at The Byre.

Paul vase with blue sunshine

Paul Cardew ceramic vase with blue sunshine in Everything in the Garden is Lovely, The Byre spring 2014

Venus vase by Paul Cardew in 'Telling Tales' at The Byre, summer 2014

Venus vase by Paul Cardew in Telling Tales at The Byre, summer 2014

Tall vases by Paul Cardew with pear by Remon Jephcott

Tall vases by Paul Cardew with pear by Remon Jephcott, Pastures New, The Byre, spring 2016

Paul and his wife Karen live a couple of miles away from us in a stunning 18th century farmhouse – Rame Barton – which is also a fabulous boutique b&b, www.ramebarton.com.  Set in gorgeous grounds with enviable views of the coast and surrounding countryside, it is the perfect spot to find inspiration as an artist – and Paul even runs pottery courses so anyone can discover their inner creativity!

Rame Barton

Rame Barton

We had a lovely afternoon – into the evening with them – last weekend which as well as enjoying gorgeous food (and wine!) was also a chance for a peek around Paul’s studio to see what he’s been up to.

Paul with cousin-in-law Maggie Cardew and Barry Dye

Paul with cousin-in-law Maggie Cardew and Barry Dye

Paul with granddaughter, Eva

Paul with granddaughter, Eva

Sun starting to go down, chickens in the background

Sun starting to go down, chicken run in the background – chickens have run!

Potter's wheel

In the studio, potter’s wheel

Rugby pigs awaiting their team colours

Rugby pigs awaiting their team colours

Rugby pigs ready for second firing

Rugby pigs ready for second firing

Ceramic pig by Paul Cardew

A more feminine pig!

If I can drag Paul away from his pigs, I hope to have some lovely new pieces from him in the gallery for the summer show – Out of the Picture, 16th July until 11th Sept.

In the mood

Sometimes it’s the title, sometimes it’s the theme and sometimes it’s a colour; the inspiration for every exhibition I’ve staged has always been different. But what is the same for every show is that it all starts with a moodboard.

Once I’ve got the idea for an exhibition I can usually visualise it pretty clearly in my mind’s eye but to capture that – and finesse the feel I want to achieve – I create a moodboard.

Moodboard for Pastures New, spring 2016

Moodboard for Pastures New, spring 2016

My moodboard is a collection of images – photos, postcards of paintings, images from magazines – which as individual pieces come together to become a representation of the look I hope to achieve for the exhibition. For Pastures New I was inspired by the crisp green of the fields, the new growth on trees and hedgerows, and the vivid primary colours of spring flowers; I had the image of an explosion of crocuses and bluebells (though I doubt they would ever bloom together!) in my head.

It’s always interesting to look back at the moodboard once the show is set up to see how well I’ve succeeded.

Pastures New, including work by Gillian McFarland, Jane Crisp and Annabel Hill

Pastures New, including work by Gillian McFarland, Jane Crisp and Annabel Hill

For Telling Tales (summer 2014) I wanted a setting which evoked my image of the setting for (1001, Tales of ) The Arabian Nights. These pots of dyes I photographed in a souk in Marrakech gave me the hint of my colour scheme:

Coloured dyes, Marrakech

Coloured dyes, Marrakech

The moodboard followed:

Moodboard, Telling Tales

Moodboard, Telling Tales

And then the exhibition:

Telling Tales, summer 2014

Telling Tales, summer 2014

Jewellery by Tracey Butterfield and Stephanie Tudor

Jewellery by Tracey Butterfield and Stephanie Tudor

One of my favourite moodboards was for The Ripple Effect, summer 2015, and I think the eventual exhibition pretty well captured the colours and the feeling of it.

Moodboard, The Ripple Effect

Moodboard, The Ripple Effect

The Ripple Effect including work by Laura Smith, Charlotte Sale and Annabel Hill

The Ripple Effect including work by Laura Smith, Charlotte Sale and Annabel Hill

And what next? Out of the Picture, summer 2016:

Out of the Picture, moodboard

Out of the Picture, moodboard

Drop into The Byre from 16th July to see how well I’ve done!

 

Ceramic Art London

Ceramic Art London is one of the must visit events in the craft calendar – though sadly the dates often to clash with my Spring exhibition. But leaving The Byre in the capable hands of willing friends I took Sunday off and headed up to the capital.

ceramic art london

ceramic art london

Run by the Craft Potters Association – the national body that represents potters and ceramic artists in the UK – CAL is a showcase of the best of ceramic art. From nearly two hundred applicants eighty-eight artists from twelve countries were selected to exhibit their rich and varied work. For the past 11 years it’s been held at the Royal College of Art but this year moved to Central St Martin’s in the very buzzy and dynamic location of Granary Square just behind King’s Cross. A former granary building – designed in 1852 by Lewis Cubitt, the architect of King’s Cross station the renovated space is light and airy – with a very contemporary feel – and for me, is a much better setting for this extraordinary selection of work.

Central St Martins, Granary Square, King's Cross

Central St Martins, Granary Square, King’s Cross

I am always amazed how ceramic artists can continue to find inspiration to create such a diverse range of work: from functional thrown bowls and teapots to hand built sculptural and wall hung pieces. I enjoyed the porcelain vessels of Ali Tomlin and South Korean maker Jaejun Lee as well as the sculptural work of Rebecca Appleby and the intricately detailed animals of both Charlotte Pack and Marieke Ringel among many others – some of whom I hope I can introduce to The Byre audiences before too long.

Chris Taylor

Chris Taylor

I was really pleased to catch up with two former exhibitors at The Byre: Adam Frew’s stunning work in pastels and deep greens was in the gallery last summer as part of The Ripple Effect; and Chris Taylor whose highly individual work was the centerpiece of Standing on Ceremony last spring. It was great to catch up with both of them and see their new pieces – and I’m delighted that Chris’ work will feature in Out of the Picture this summer at The Byre.

Chris Taylor vessels

Chris Taylor vessels

It was also good to meet Ed Chadwick of the Snug Gallery in Yorkshire who was there helping his partner, the very talented ceramicist Jill Shaddock. The Snug gallery was hit very badly by floods last year and they are only just getting back to normal – thanks in part to a very successful Crowd-funding campaign initiated by some of their loyal clients. Jill’s very tactile slip-cast work beautifully blurs the boundaries between the functional and the decorative.

Jill Shaddock ceramics

Jill Shaddock ceramics

Outside the exhibition I was equally impressed with the improvement to the area. When I first moved to London in the late 90s, the back of King’s Cross station (or indeed the front) was not somewhere you would spend any time. I knew there was a canal behind the railway terminal, although I’d never seen it and for years there was talk about regeneration of the area and how stunning it could look. I had heard great reports but never quite had the time when I’m in London to and take a look. So I was doubly glad that CAL had moved to a new home so I had the excuse to see the results for myself – I think it’s fantastic: a lively, well-laid out and very usable area with lots to attract visitors, and really connected to both King’s Cross and St Pancras stations. I’ll look forward to Ceramic Art London 2017.