Magpie {50}

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Porcelain wheel-thrown cup with matt white glaze and oxide rim, by Yumiko Iihoshi

A short while ago I spent an action packed weekend in London. I asked friends on Instagram where I should visit during my stay and I managed to fit in some fantastic things following their advice.

One particular highlight was discovering Gallery Eclectic, which houses a wonderfully curated selection of Japanese pottery by makers such as Shinobu Hashimoto and Makoto Kagoshima. I could have bought so many things *if only* but I finally selected this understated beauty made by Kyoto Saga University of Arts graduate Yumiko Iihoshi. This was one of her series of ‘Hand Works’, each with a slightly different profile… some straighter and some more curved. It is lovely to drink from.

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Capital

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A while ago I mentioned that I had received an artist’s bursary from Aberdeen City Council. The first installment allowed me to go to Copenhagen to participate in a week’s workshop with Eric Landon, and the second was to fund my application to a London Craft and Design fair called Made London. The application was successful, and after spending over a month in busy preparation, I set off the week before last on a thousand-mile round trip to the South, with my car laden with pots and a display stand.

Over the last three years of being in business I have exhibited at a few fairs, but limited to Scotland and the borders. I found the prospect of such a prestigious event very unnerving, and having a mishap with my kiln the week before didn’t help my nerves. However, any anxiety was quickly dissipated when I arrived at the stunning One Marylebone and found Jon and Anne Marie from Tutton and Young, and an army of porters to help me unload and find my stand.

One Marylebone is a grade one listed de-consecrated church in the centre of the capital, designed by Sir John Soane and built in the early 19th Century. It is packed with beautiful design features including endless chandeliers, floor to ceiling arched windows, winding staircases, mosaics and stained glass. I was lucky to have my spot in the first floor Galleries with a wonderful tree top view across to the new Regents Place development.

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Setting up was a bit frantic. I had needed to incorporate a lot of storage into my stand and there was a fair amount of building to be done in the allotted four hours. Luckily we were allowed early entry the following morning, before opening, to make final adjustments etc.

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With over 120 selected exhibitors the quality of work on show was simply spectacular… from ceramics, jewellery and textiles, to glass, furniture and leatherwork. I’m amazed I came away with any money left at all as there was temptation everywhere.

I only photographed the ceramics on show, purely because of time restraints. It is difficult when you are exhibiting on your own to even get to the bathroom, let alone take time out to peruse everyone else’s glorious wares. Luckily I had some very kind neighbours who watched my stand during a couple of quieter moments to allow me to take a few shots.

The fair ran from Thursday 20, with a packed private view during the evening, to Sunday 23 October. Then after a hasty take down and a delicious Sunday dinner at my friend’s house I set off the Monday morning for the long drive home to Aberdeen. All in all it was a tremendous experience, and I loved meeting new customers, catching up with old and making new friends. It’s a big distance for me to travel, but so many things made it worth it.

Very many thanks to Aberdeen City Council for making this possible and giving me the opportunity to get my work seen by a wider audience. Huge thanks also to all my friends and family who seized this chance and came to visit me during one of my rare trips south of the border.

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Spontaneous throwing lines by Kirsty Adams

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Exquisite, fine porcelain by Justine Allison

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Hand-painted mark-making by Tamsin Arrowsmith-Brown

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Charming illustrations by Helen Beard

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Stunning glazes by Linda Bloomfield

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Landscape inspired porcelain by Candice Coetser

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Microscopic translucency by Amy Cooper

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Nostalgic slipware by Victoria Claire Dawes

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Pieces with inlaid jewels by Tamara Gomez

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Intricately patterned porcelain by Ikuko Iwamoto

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Hypnotic illusions by Jin Eui Kim

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Graphic mark-making by Katharina Klug

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One hundred cups by Emma Lacey

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Layered textures by Hilary Mayo

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Lively layered slipware by RAMP – Roop and Al Make Pots

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Contemporary tableware by Elizabeth Renton

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Japanese miniatures by Yuta Segawa

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Marks, lines and texture by Ali Tomlin

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Artisan craftsmanship by Jeannine Vrins

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Complex glazed landscapes by Paul Wearing

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Pared down forms by Pottery West

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Calm patterns by Mizuyo Yamashita
(image by Mizuyo Yamashita)

Magpie {26}

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Small ‘Within’ vessel, porcelain by Elaine Bolt

This is the final piece that I bought on my wonderful trip to Handmade in Britain a few weeks ago. It was a pleasure to meet Elaine as I have been following her blog for a while. Sometimes it is difficult to express the complexity of a pot in a single photograph. This one at first appears so simple… but it is really a series of contrasts: smooth to the touch, but with a sharp outer rim; a light celadon exterior, but a dark mysterious interior; perfectly and regularly shaped, but with a broken and uneven opening. I love it.

One day I hope to own one of her sets of ‘objects’ too, but I need to do some saving first.

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Magpie {25}
Magpie {24}
London calling

London calling

I’m just back from a wonderful weekend in London. I managed to pack in a lot, but my primary reason for going was to visit Handmade in Britain and I’ll post more about that later. The other main highlight was a lengthy afternoon spent wandering around the ceramics collection at the Victoria & Albert Museum. I can’t think how long it is since I last visited and I had forgotten just how much there is to see…

As you enter the main hall of the museum and look directly upwards you can just catch a glimpse of Edmund de Vaal’s Signs and Wonders in the topmost dome of the building. After taking the lift to the sixth floor and walking through some of the furniture collection you enter the ceramics section. The number of pieces on display is breathtaking. It is divided into a series of galleries – firstly four large rooms with glass cases packed from floor to ceiling with pieces from China, Asia & Europe, Britain and Britain & Europe. These are followed by the following rooms: Factory Ceramics after 1900, Contemporary Ceramics (where you can get a closer view of Signs and Wonders), Studio Ceramics, Making Ceramics, Architectural Ceramics, World Ceramics and a display gallery.

I could go on for hours about the things I saw. Photography was quite difficult. I took most of my photographs on my rather inadequate camera phone as this seemed to produce the ‘best’ results given the subdued lighting. I decided that a series of details would be the best way to get across the amazing variety on show. Wherever possible I have included the maker’s surname, or country of origin, at the beginning of the image file name but there are a few pieces that I found very difficult to identify.

Spark: nineteen

A series about people that have influenced my creative path

Cy-Twombly-Untitled-Bacchus-Steve ParkinsonCy Twombly (1928-2011); Untitled from Bacchus Series, 2005
(creative commons photo from Flickr by Steve Parkinson)

Some years ago I had agreed to meet my husband in Hyde Park. I had some time on my hands so I nipped in to the Serpentine Gallery and saw the Cy Twombly: Fifty Years Of Works On Paper exhibition that was on at the time. I have become fascinated by his abstract drawings – what first appear to be little more than scribbles, in fact have a strange depth and calligraphic rhythm that I find intriguing.

Spark: nine

A series about people that have influenced my creative path

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Lynda Brockbank, Mend, porcelain and plaster

When I went to my interview with Lynda Brockbank at Crescent Lodge Design in 1998 it was pouring with rain. Running the short distance from my car to the studio I got literally soaked. As I exited the lift Rodger (Lynda’s husband) kindly greeted me with a towel. So started a 12-year love affair with CLD. I only left my job as designer director when a combination of children and distance made it no longer possible to work there.

Lynda has a formidable pedigree… She is alumna of London College of Printing 1966, Chelsea College of Art and Design 2001, and Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design 2005. She has worked at the BBC, Pentagram and Saint Martin’s School of Art. She founded CLD in 1986. We share a desire to make the extraordinary from the ordinary; and as a result, a strange love of turning dull text and data into beautiful typography and diagrams. Lynda also actively encouraged pursuing other interests in parallel to our graphic design work. She has a degree in Fine Art and an MA in philosophy, and it was while I was there that I restarted doing pottery with evening classes at Hackney Community College.

Spark: four

A series about people that have influenced my creative path

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Barbara Hepworth; Spring, bronze with strings, 1966

I’d always admired the aluminium sculpture on the side of the John Lewis building in London’s Oxford Street. It was only later that I discovered that it was by Barbara Hepworth (1903-1975) and visited the beautiful Trewyn studio and gardens in St Ives. There’s something intoxicating about the Cornish light falling on the natural and sculptural forms, and being able to explore the place where they were created.