It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog post and things have been super busy. I’ve been teaching classes at my studio, as well as classes for Cambourne Village College and the Wellcome Trust social club; working with schools on mural commissions and curriculum inspired workshops where the children get to follow the process of clay from malleable beginning to the beautifully glossy, glazed finished piece; making a few small commission pieces; and making some of my own work.
You notice how making my own work is at the end of the list…well for 2017 my goal is to move it up the list a bit and to get my work back out into galleries and shows around the UK, and further afield if the opportunity arises. I’m going to set time aside to develop my current work and turn some of the ideas swimming around in head into test pieces to build and develop new pieces. I have so many ideas about hidden beauty, layering up and using lights more… I’m super excited to get started so I’m going to have to work super hard to make sure I don’t get caught up in the day to day work too much (two school murals, a beautiful greyhound commission and 7 classes a week starting January…). I do have two lovely studio assistants who have started helping me out so I should be able to find some time with their help 🙂 Look out 2017, here I come!
I can’t believe I’m saying that! I only moved into my beautiful, big, spacious studio in October 2014 but I really need more space. Not for my work so much as for the fabulous pieces my students are making and the hundreds of tiles that are currently in my studio at various stages of making for the Over school commission. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a bad thing but it has taken me by surprise. It’s great that I’m saying it as it means I’m very busy doing what I love too so I’m happy. I’ve gone from two regular weekly classes to running five as well as Saturday workshops, parties and face painting…I’ve reached the point of having to say no to opportunities and how hard is that!
I subscribe to the Design Trust newsletter and Patricia’s current question is ‘What does success look like?’ It has popped up on my screen at a very good time for me and what with being so busy and growing so much faster than I thought it would, it is a really good question!
I’ve always dreamed of making my living from my clay work. I want to sell my work through prestigious galleries and events as well as pass on my passion for clay to students. I would like to have an excellent reputation for making unusual pieces of high quality ceramic art. I also want to work in a way that fits with my family with a degree of flexibility. I would like to be recognised by my peers and wider industry for pushing boundaries and making unique pieces. So I guess for me, success would be making my living from a balance of selling my work in selected galleries and events and teaching while still having the time to spend with my family. It is also about being featured in industry magazines and doing demonstrations at shows and events.
I suppose all of that does also come with a need for a fabulous studio space kitted out with all the facilities needed so a sign of success would also be getting a bigger studio with separate glaze and kiln rooms!
With a month away from teaching classes I’m going to be busy working on a fabulous commission for the Vine Inter-church Primary School, Cambourne. Born from the vision of their head teacher, Debbie Higham, as a way to celebrate the school’s 10th birthday, it’s a great project that brings together all the ways I love to work.
While I will have some serious time in the studio on my own with my head down creating in both ceramic and textile the bulk of this project has been about collaboration with the students, governors and teachers. It’s a small piece of public art that will be permanently sited in the main entrance of the school building. I put together a simple proposal with a drawing of my design which went to a panel of children who then shortlisted two proposals they wanted to hear more about. I was then invited to meet with some of the children along with a couple of governors and the head teacher for an interview that took my initial design to a new level by incorporating same great suggestions from the panel. This, I have been told, was why I was the successful artist for the project, I was happy and enthusiastic about their suggestions and included in the proposal more time for workshops to allow for more opportunities to contribute and influence the finished piece.
I love the idea of collaborative creativity and the fact that the finished piece will feel so much more special because of all the input from so many of the people and the community it’s celebrating. I still have the role of artist and have to keep the vision cohesive and the finished piece of a high quality but this is a challenge I love. So far, all the suggestions have added and built upon my original design so I look forward to seeing the finished piece!