Small ‘ball’ bowl, slipcast porcelain, by Annemette Kissow
I mentioned in my last Magpie post that I bought three small contemporary pieces when I was on my visit to Copenhagen last month. This is the second… the yellow colour of the outside is amazing and my photograph doesn’t do it justice. The wooden base was made by fellow designer Lise Damager Hansen and can also cleverly be used as an egg cup.
We came across Annemette’s shop and studio whilst we were walking through the city to visit another gallery. She founded it in 1995 with a group of fellow graduates from the Danish Design school. We were allowed a sneaky peek into the studio, which was immaculate. If only I could keep mine as clean and tidy.
Little Barcelona Bowl, slipcast porcelain, by Jeanette List Amstrup
Whilst I was in Copenhagen, at the end of last month, I had a little time to visit a few ceramics galleries and studios. Most of the pots that I saw were contemporary in style and these caught my eye. It was inevitable that I would buy something… and this is the first of three pieces I came home with. I would have loved to have bought one of Jeanette’s larger pieces, but I had to be able to fit any purchases into my carry-on luggage. This series of bowls were created for an exhibition at Mitte Gallery in Barcelona. They are simple, fulsome forms that are lovely to hold. The glazes are stunning with apparently effortless blends of colour, which I’m sure aren’t as simple to perfect.
Me finishing the rim of a tall piece (photo by Line Klein)
In the summer I was delighted to find out that I had received an artist’s bursary from Made in Aberdeen. The award was to help me with two things, the first of which was to get some much needed tuition. I’m mostly self taught, which brings its own unique challenges. There are some things that I can work out for myself… rightly or wrongly. There are others for which the internet is an invaluable resource, but there are certain issues which can only be solved by talking to, and working with a potter with more experience.
My main obstacle has always been throwing tall pieces. This takes a combination of skill and confidence that I just don’t seem to have. The maximum height I can throw is about 20 centimetres, and the pot is always wide and heavy.
About a year ago I started following the Instagram feed of Eric Landon from Tortus Copenhagen. He is a master potter, with 25 years experience and specialises in tall decorative pieces. So last month, using some of my bursary money I boarded a plane to Denmark to take part in a week-long workshop at his studio in the centre of Copenhagen.
Nyhavn, in the centre of Copenhagen, touristy but beautiful
It was an wonderful week on many levels. There’s something about being in a different studio, away from the usual day-to-day which I found invigorating. There were times of affirmation where I discovered I hadn’t been doing things incorrectly… however it was amazing how seemingly small adjustments to do with clay preparation; hand and body position; and wheel speed resulted in significant improvement. Thanks to Eric’s help by the end of the week I was making pots that were much taller, and were narrow and shapely. Now I am back home with a head full of ideas for new work. I still need to work on getting the walls thinner, but that will come with practise and I have set aside the next few weeks for just that. As I write this my finished pots are on their way to me from Copenhagen. I’ll post a picture if they arrive safely.
Day one: Progress from right to left, getting taller but a bit clunky
Day two: Eureka! The tallest piece I had thrown to date – 30cm
Day three: Trying to go out as well as up
Day four: Something a little more shapely, as well as 32cm high
Day five: Taking stock of the week’s progress
Day six: Glazing, using Eric’s particular process of layering different recipes
Copenhagen is a breathtakingly beautiful city, and I was lucky to find a place to stay that was so central. I walked everywhere, however the days were short so I didn’t get to see as much of the city as I would have liked. A good excuse to visit again! The other participants in the workshop were wonderful – from Denmark, the Netherlands, the UK and Australia! Thanks to you all and to Eric and Tasja for making my week away such a memorable and rewarding one.
From left to right: Line Klein (Denmark), Eric’s assistant Tasja Pulawska (Poland), Silvia Woudt (Netherlands), Ashley Feijoo (Australia), Katherine Lees (UK) and me.
Earlier I mentioned that my bursary was to help me with two things. The second is to fund my application for a London show in 2016, something that would normally be beyond my means. I’ll let you know if I succeed.