November 2nd Last weekend I was in London, going to two workshops run by textile artist Shelly Goldsmith, in response to Richard Tuttle’s ‘I Don’t Know. The Weave of Textile Language’. Starting at the Whitechapel Gallery, investigating the quality of line was a good way into this retrospective show of some of Tuttle’s work, all of which has an emphasis on textiles. We were then let loose in an upstairs room to create mayhem, making and installing our own ‘lines’ out of fabric and thread, and incorporating heat transfer images. Great group of people, with varied backgrounds, and all ready to get stuck in. This is the part of my line that I liked. After the workshop I wandered into Kader Attia’s installation ‘Continuum of Repair: The Light of Jacob’s Ladder’. Like the Tuttle, how could I resist a title like that?! Just great, fascinating, intelligent, many of the things I was groping for through my Nature of Mending project were articulated here.
I can’t really describe either the Tuttle or the Attia, so I won’t try, but got a great deal from both, visual and cerebral. Sunday the workshop re-convened at Tate Modern, to contemplate Tuttle’s installation in the Turbine Hall, which I think is pretty horrible, and I wasnt totally alone. But we got to create chaos again in another upstairs room, this time deconstructing a garment we had brought, and creating something. All very art- collegey but great fun.
Here is a detail from my black silk piece (I abandoned the heat transfer, a technique Shelly uses to brilliant and thought provoking effect, but I was hopeless). The woven ‘name-tape’ is a section cut from a whole long length of text that Shelly brought, left over from one of her pieces, and again, finding the phrase about repair, just had to pounce on it. (Hope it’s visible) One of the extra treats of the day was being in the Tate’s education room, high up at one end of the building, with extraordinary views Home on Monday, then on Wednesday a visit to Museum of Somerset as part of the Discovery Room project which is now well under way (more about this v. soon) and another extraordinary treat, looking at and holding very very ancient ceramics. This one is about 2,500 years old….What a week!
Moving into autumn, and dates finally set for ‘Mending Revealed’, a new Nature of Mending show which will be at Bridport Arts Centre in March 2016. Picking up from ‘The Journey’ at Walford Mill last September, the new show will feature my original team of artists, plus others yet to be announced. Details of the full Nature of Mending project can be found at http://www.natureofmending.co.uk and you can follow the blog on that site.
Meanwhile, work begins on ‘The Discovery Room’ project with Museum of Somerset (see previous post!). My obsession with small eccentric pots continues, boosted by two unexpected presents I was given during a visit to France in early September. The one above is a present from French ceramicist Pascal Lacroix, which came after he had already given us a fantastic impromptu lunch of fresh sardines, melon, charcuterie and the kind of tomato salad one rarely tastes in this country. The little pot below, which is all of 3 inches high, I found at a carboot south of Moissac, and was given it by the 2 charming gents manning the stall….
My work with Taunton museum (there will be a project blog for this, details shortly) will begin with an exploration in the Heritage Centre stores of Bronze and Iron Age pots, plenty, I hope, of wonky pots there! No I haven’t forgotten textiles, but would like to build on the work I did with paperclay last year, and the surfaces will come into my prints, I am sure.
Overall I’m really excited by the opportunities this coming year is offering so far. More soon!
Friend and painter/printmaker Jenny Graham has been successful in her bid to Arts Council England for her project ‘The Room’. I will be joining her, and Chris Dunseath, (sculptor), Ralph Hoyte (poet) and Richard Tomlinson (photographer/moving image) to spend the next year rootling around in the stores and archives at Somerset Heritage in Taunton, alongside their great team of curators. The rootlings will culminate in an installation at the Museum of Somerset in 2016. There will be a project blog soon.
SO, I have been ruminating about collections. I don’t think of myself as a maker of collections, but I realise, I have unconsciously put together a collection of wonky pots over the past 15 years, which live on the windowsill in my studio. There are one or two things which are not pots, but which relate somehow, (and there is one bowl which is anything but wonky but makes a great foil for the others). Here is my windowsill.
You can’t see the individual objects in any detail here, but the reason I wanted to post a picture of my collection was more to do with their background stories than to show them off and say why I like them. Makes a change from always being primarily visual. So here are the stories. The numbers start with the little bottles along the top, and go clockwise and then into the middle, finishing with the Michael Fairfax sculpture.
1 – 5
Rejected bottles and pot collected from the debris of John Butler and John McKenzie’s wood fired kiln after their final firing at Hurstone Studios in 2004.
Beaker made by Martha Stalkopt at Hurstone studios in 2004. One of the gifts she made to all of us who had studios there when she returned to Switzerland.
7 & 8
Terracotta beakers from India. The LH one is a chai cup, (now holding pins) which I picked up from a pile of rejects next to the potter who was making them, in a small remote village somewhere in Rajasthan in 2005. James Crowden would know the name of it; he took us there to see the most spectacular step well.
The RH one I kept from a train journey from Dehra Dun to Delhi, later in 2005. Extract from my diary: ‘As soon as the train starts boys come round with newspapers. Unfortunately all in Hindi. These are followed by bottles of water and a paper cup each. A while later we get a sort of thin spicy pasty, a cup of tea (from a ‘tea kit’), a packet of crisps, one of those testicle like sweet balls (brown this time) and two toffees. After another pause, we get a carton of mango juice each, which are whipped away rather quickly, (no chance of saving for later) and replaced with a cup of spicy tomato soup and roll and butter. NOW comes the major meal, 3 hot dishes, (curried beans, curried paneer, rice & 3 chapatti) a paper bag of salad, pickle, and a terracotta pot of beautiful yoghurt’. This is the very same terracotta pot, and now holds a painted easter egg.
9. 1960s vase from car boot.
10 & 11. Two experimental fired paperclay objects, made by me at UWE Bristol whilst studying for my printmaking M.A in 2002
12. A small beautifully imperfect bowl by Japanese ceramicist Kaori Tatebayashi, bought this year at the Leach pottery shop in St. Ives. It now contains a handful of iridescent green beetle wings from my grandmother’s sewing things. They were presumably for applique, like sequins.
13 – 16 More experiments with fired paperclay, made last year for my Nature of Mending project, using nails and metal washers, with a view to incorporating into tapestries.
17. A piece of circular slate. Cannot remember where I found it.
18. Four rusted antique nails found whilst gardening.
19. A beautiful, serene, perfectly symmetrical and balanced celadon bowl with raku fired pedestal by Devon ceramicist Tim Andrews, bought 2 years ago at the Marle Gallery in Axminster.
20. As 10 and 11
21 As 1 – 5 except this was not a reject and I bought it from one of the Johns. John Butler now making green buildings in Bridport, so he would know.
22 Five pieces of fabric stitched/wrapped with metal dipped in porcelain slip then fired, by textile artist Debbie Smyth. Bought this year from the Taunton exhibition of work made during the Somerset Artworks project Z Twist.
23 Wood and lens sculpture by Michael Fairfax. A much loved 50th birthday present from the artist.
So, a rich mix of pieces by artists, some friends, some not, incidental finds and my own experiments.
Applying this process to museum collections won’t of course be possible, but maybe with imagination, making collections from within their collections can be brought to life in a similar way. Can’t wait!
I lived in this tiny village in the Tuscan hills in 1975, long before it evolved into its current life as a holiday village with a difference. Abandoned post war, the sculptor Fiore de Henriquez, (who died ten years ago) bought it and re-built it (mostly herself) during the 1960s and 70s. One weekend this June I was one of around 50 people who stayed there for a weekend of Fiore celebration, which included two exceptional films about her. 2 days of stimulating conversation, exceptional food and wine, and heavenly views, scents and weather. From here I travelled to Bologna for two days.
In my next post, I will put together images from Abbzia de Santo Stefano, the Archaelogical Museum and Mambo, the new Museum of Modern Art in Bologna. These were the main things I got to see, fitting in around buying a train ticket (as always in Italy, a saga in itself), buying espadrilles, and Italian knickers, and experiencing the free movies being shown every night in the main square, along with an elegant concert in a church garden of 18th century chamber music…..I love Bologna. Oh, and of course sensational ice cream…..