Magpie {48}

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Soda fired sake cup, with orange slip and shino liner glaze, by Joseph Morgan

A few weeks ago I took part in the North East Open Studios for the third time. It is the most wonderful event with over 230 artists, makers and designers taking part across Aberdeen City and Shire. I managed to take a day off to visit a few people taking part… but choosing who to see was difficult.

One easy decision was going down to Catterline to see my friend Joseph Morgan. Since I last saw Joe he has converted an old electric kiln into a gas-fired soda one, and he had some of the stunning results on display. I came away with this lustrous little sake cup, which has yet to be christened. I don’t have any sake, but I was thinking now that the nights are drawing in that a sloe gin might do the trick.

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Magpie {20}

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Small stoneware bowl by Brian Cook Shand

As I mentioned earlier we recently spent a weekend campervanning along the north Aberdeen and Moray coasts. I think my family are soon going to learn some better ways of distracting me whenever we drive past a sign that says ‘Pottery’, as I am unable to resist them. One day we stopped in at Watergaw Ceramics, and with my children happily bribed with chocolate buttons I snuck into the beautiful, former Methodist church for a very quick look.

Brian Cook Shand works just a little further along the coast at Portsoy, but was exhibiting at Watergaw. I had already seen some of his remarkable large pieces at the Aberdeen Artists Society’s exhibition at the Aberdeen Art Gallery earlier this year. He’s been throwing for over 40 years and it clearly shows when you pick up one of his pots… they’re light, simple and beautifully finished (note the double turned foot ring above).

Magpie {17}

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Oval form decorated with natural ochres and raku/smokefired, by Kerstin Gren

All around me at the moment there are hundreds of makers, artists and galleries opening their studios for NEOS 2013. This is the second week of the three week extravaganza and I’m busily planning my next road trip, for Wednesday. A week ago I ventured up to the Banffshire coast to visit four potters. One of these was Kerstin Gren, who is originally from Helsingborg, Sweden. Her studio and gallery are in an idyllic part of Aberdeenshire, and as soon as I entered the building I knew I wasn’t going to be able to leave without one of her pieces. Everywhere I looked deceptively simple forms decorated with locally sourced pigments stared back at me. The trouble I had was in choosing which one.

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Hopefully by next year I’ll be good enough to exhibit alongside this year’s 322 participants.