Thursday 31 January 2013

Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre Replicas

I'm getting on with my next major project - a commission to produce a couple of dozen replica ancient pots for the new Hengistbury Head Visitor Centre. I've been researching all the types of pottery required, from Neolithic Grooved ware, through Beakers to Urns and Iron Age bowls. Plus the different clay bodies and inclusions - the added ingredients that make some of the pots very special. I've also been printing out full size images of the pots, so I can make templates of the profiles and check the decorations as I construct them. Plus a portfolio of each pot, with all the relevant details and photos to help capture how they should look.
I'll post some this on my website, when it is ready to roll.

A couple more opportunities arose today, during a trip to the offices of Dorset Visual Arts. In return for handing over the Upwey Potters' subscription, I have been offered a place at the DVA Art Fair in May, doing Raku Firing - including an evening performance for the great and the good.
Then the folk from Artsreach leapt at me asking about running workshops as part of their offering for the next phase of the South Dorset Ridgeway Awareness project. If the lottery funding comes through that will be spread over several years, just up my street and over the hill.

Monday 28 January 2013

CinBA here we come!

I have just been offered a chance to do a "sideshow" (my description) at the CinBA Conference in Cambridge University in April.
Creativity and Craft Production in Middle and Late Bronze Age Europe (CinBA)
CinBA Logo

I am really looking forward to the conference, as part of my CPD (Continuing Pottery Development!?). I hope to learn more about the Bronze Age and how contemporary artists relate to it.
I will be conducting a small experiment within a display of some of my pottery, inviting delegates to sort items in terms of desirability. My piece of research concerns how both I as a contermporary maker and the potters of the Bronze Age would deal with satisfying the needs of our clients. Bronze Age pottery appears to lack inventiveness, remaining similar for generations and keeping to a reasonably tight design code for shape and decoration. That might just be a result of how modern archaeologists like to pigeon-hole their material evidence, but I don't see a great deal of differences. Modern makers are far less restricted by limitations of technology and materials, but also are free to be more spontaneously creative - making things that do not necessarily follow trends. However as a traditionalist, I tend to pick up on the "tried and tested" designs and run with them, at least in the back of my mind. My audience has expectations that if met tend to lead to better understanding and thus potential trade.
We shall see.

Friday 25 January 2013

WESCA "Encounters" at Dorset County Museum

I am busy putting the finishing touches to my entry in the WESCA exhibition "Encounters" at the Dorset County Museum in Dorchester.
I have having some wierd flashbacks to "Artyfacts", an exhibition I helped the RAFT Dorset group curate at the Museum on 2004, which explored similar themes of artists responding to objects found in the Museum.
Encounters runs from mid February until mid June 2013 and features work from a group of contemporary artists called the WESCA group
I am very excited about mingling with "proper artists" (rather than mere craftworking potters!).

Replica neolithic axe
I hope my entry "The Rough with the Smooth" will be well received. It is based on the Neolithic Jadeite Axes and Grooved Ware pottery, which the museum has some splendid examples of. I gaze admiringly at them through the glass and wish I could touch them, so for my piece I am putting one of my replica axes and shard of grooved pottery into a hidden space, where they can be felt, but not seen.
This is an image of the clay axe in the making, it was carved from a block of clay, then smoothed and polished while damp, with several layers of very fine ball clay slip applied between burnishings. After firing in an electric kiln, it was smoked in burning sawdust to give it some interesting cloudy colour (not actually needed in this display, but nice all the same!). After a thin coat of beeswax polish it is ready to face the world - but a clay axe is in the same league as a chocolate knife!
The other item I am using is a broken shard of a pot that was hand-made and fired in a bonfire, it has a lovely gritty feel with added texture from the grooves made on the surface.
All I've got to do now is finish off the display plinth, which will have a cloth bag "nailed" to it in which the objects are placed, so that hands can reach in, but the items cannot be extracted into the light.
The Preview is on Friday 15th February - contact me if you want an official invitation!

Thursday 24 January 2013

Playing with design

I thought as a creative person I should put some personality into my new blog - all be it a colour-blind one! I hope my readers enjoy the customised feel of this offering. But now back to work.

Here we go!

Other folk tell me I should start Blogging, so here we go!
Apparently other people may be interested in my activities and views on life the universe and everything. We shall see!