Sunday, 3 April 2011

A bit of a quickie - 10th Annual York Open Studios

I'm not sure I am yet capable of a 'blog quickie' but I'll have a go....

I am down in York at the home and studio of my friend and ceramic artist Trudy Weir who has opened both to the public with two fellow artists - ceramicist and silver jewellry maker, Ann Decker and printmaker, Rebecca Wright.

The YOS ( is celebrating it's 10 year by opening this weekend (2,3,4th April) and next (9,10,11th) - quite a burden for the participants and maybe a bit of a risk in these cash strapped times. There are also more artists too (well over 100) showing this year although some are choosing to do one weekend only.

The preview night on the 2nd was fairly quiet but things busied up on Saturday and today, Sunday, morning has brought out the sunshine and the public!

Ann and Trudy finished their mixed media degree from York in fine style bit gaining first class honours in 2009. Both mainly concentrate on hand building but Ann does some thrown and altered pieces and has recently started to make silver jewellry.

Ann's silver jewellry.....

                                               Ann's ceramic pieces - coiled and altered pots

Ann's little creatures!

You can find Ann at

Trudy's Ceramics

Trudy's work is made from overlaying clays and slips and stretching into slabs and made into sculptural pieces, trompe l'oeil . She works on a regular basis with Ben Arnup who took her on for a week as a student and they developed a mutual addiction! It has proved a useful ceramic collaboration and an even more valued friendship. I have been fortunate enough to have a 'placement' with Trudy which I will blog about later and had a day working with Ben and Trudy in Ben's basement studio - I even got to make a pot! So exciting!

More recently I met up with Ben and Trudy at the Biscuit Factory in Newcastle when they brought up their work for the Spring collection and attended the open evening which was really well attended and showcased a lot of artists new to the gallery.

Ben is an amazing ceramicist and a lovely person - check him out at:

On a walk around Open studio's I discovered 'micro-concrete ' which makes great outdoor  pieces

The micro concrete can be mixed with materials such as shells and really looks good. These are made by Richard Macknesss of urbis design (

Back to Trudy's and Rebecca Wright who makes intaglio prints - her etching are really lovely - her sketch books are amazing - pieces of art in themselves - check her out and

Sketch books

Ooops clockwise 90 degrees!

I treated myself to Jo Bagshaw jewellry ( a lovely book by Amy Husband, collage maker ( and a book about Glasgow School of Art at Janette Ray Booksellers  - just seemed right after my recent visit to the college.

Freya Horsley's landscapes are stunning with new paintings from her visit to the Himalaya's. ( as are Simon Palmour's photo's (www, Andrea Cundall has some really nice new ceramic pieces based on sound waves

I'll be back at YOS next week for more 

Saturday, 2 April 2011

AD207 - Work placement

 A truly inspired title but that's what it is - the module I have most eagerly anticipated - an opportunity to learn from those I admire.

I actually started long before the module dates by becoming an apprentice to Australian Ceramic Artist, John Stroomer. He would, I suspect, call himself a potter but, in my opinion, his throwing and mastery of all things ceramic - especially his crystalline glazing - would be difficult to match and he is, without doubt, an artist.

Here is one of his crystalline bottles - a really beautiful piece.  They look at their very best in sunlight and make great garden pieces especially as water features.

I spent the last 3 summer seasons assisting John at ceramic fairs in the UK and Europe and visiting the galleries where his work is exhibited and sold.

Here is John's stand which includes pictures of his 'Chelsea' pot - a large garden pot that inspired Coralin Pearson wife of Ray Pearson, from Solway Ceramics Centre, and three of her fellow horticultural students to design a courtyard garden - 'Pottering in North Cumbria' which won a Silver Merit

John is a great teacher, I have attended 2 courses given by him at Solway Ceramic Centre and spent a month at his factory in Australia throwing, glazing and firing - total bliss... well I did do a lot of F'ing and blinding when the clay wouldn't behave itself - probably a combination of jet lag and heat intolerance - well there must have been some reason! Fortunately, despite my worst efforts, I did improve in my throwing technique and got to do my own firing!

Here he is demo'ing at Oxford Art in Action - he certainly draws the crowds!


Here is John throwing one his pots in his factory ...... mine is the one on the right - some way to go!!

My fired pots!

My favourite - I love John's copper red - this piece had a white flare with a really nice crackle.


We visited some wonderful studios in France including Nigel and Suzy Atkin's impressive Gallerie du Don. ( Le Don du Fel, Montsalvy - at the southern tip of the Massif Central, www.   

The gallery and studios are in a beautiful setting up in the hills.

The studio.......

....with a view!

The kiln...

....with a salt-feeding machine that sprays a saline mixture into the kiln!

Suzy's salt-glazed work is lovely and the gallery displays many beautiful pieces. It also has exhibitions by ceramicists from all over Europe such as Martin McWilliams and Simon Griffiths.


These guys were arriving on the day we visited - a real scorcher - seemed totally bizarre!

We also went to an 'open studio's event in a small village called St Guillaume le Poterie that had about 20 potters - nearly all women. It also had a Ceramic Museum!


Classical french terre vernissee

The Musee  - wil ancient to modern ceramics.

John will be back in May to prepare for Potfets in Perth, Rufford and Hatfield. He is doing several courses at Solway Ceramics  Centre ( and will be showing and demo'ing at Oxford Art in Action ( )

Another busy summer!!!