In September last year I announced a plan to relocate from the Island with my partner Ed, possibly to Australia.
Here at the end of January, we've been happily ensconced in Melbourne for nearly 2 months, spending our days between something of a holiday and navigating the path to live here long-term. It's a pleasantly odd balance of revelling in the culture that this city offers, and jumping down the anxiety-lined rabbit hole of visa applications.
There are a great many things not worth writing about for the time being: visa applications are like dreams, only interesting to the people involved in them.
Until I have some Proper News to share with you, I'll leave some illustrations here for your perusal. Amidst the paperwork, time and space to draw and paint with no particular goal is a huge privilege.
(Yes, I'm keen to paint them on pots...!)
Films watched: Star Wars The Last Jedi, Call Me By Your Name, The Post, Loving Vincent (plus The Florida Project + Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool on our Manchester stopover)
Exhibitions visited: The Highway is a Disco - Del Kathryn Barton (NGV Australia), Romancing the Skull (Art Gallery of Ballarat), Wallace & Gromit (ACMI).
Wow. Christmas in the Yard weekend was blinkin' INSANE! Props to my legendary customers for turning out in force and patiently queuing through the building. I'm a lucky potter, full of gratitude after a magical weekend. Special thanks to PineWood Studio, Flo the Coffee Van + Reap What You Sew for making my last Christmas in the Yard epic!
Thanks too to Deb Turk for these beautiful photos, they make my heart burst.
You are warmly invited to the annual festive shindig, Christmas in the Yard!
This year we are VERY happy to be joined by special guests Flo the Coffee Van, serving up tasty seasonal treats, and Jenny James of Reap What You Sew, with her gorgeous soft furnishings, clothing and accessories. Our wonderful hosts, Pinewood Studio, will have the showroom bursting with their signature restored + rescued furniture and collectable homewares.
This will be my last year at Christmas in the Yard (please, hassle Maree to continue partying into the future!! She makes the furniture showroom so magical!), and my last event before leaving the Island. I'll have my new festive designs available, PLUS a seconds and samples clearance sale. The pots can't come with me!
Saturday 25th + Sunday 26th November 2017
2pm - 6pm
Lower Bishopscourt Farm, Kirk Michael
(click here for map link - satellite view recommended to find the correct driveway!)
You would be most welcome.
[Photo: Mike Radcliffe]
Some exciting news to share with you: in early December I'm bobbing off to do some travelling! My partner and I have been looking at opportunities in Australia and the UK, and we will be spending some time there to pursue those options - huzzah!
In anticipation of this departure, please save the date for this year's Christmas in the Yard (I beg, refrain from reaching for those pitchforks, I only use the C word out of necessity): Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th November at Lower Bishopcourt Farm in Kirk Michael, with PineWood Studio. We will confirm details in good time, but heads up: there will be a seconds and samples clearance sale (my first on the Island!) as well as this year's festive designs. We are stoked that Flo the Coffee Van will join us in the yard for the weekend to serve up deliciously festive refreshments.
Whilst I'm not yet sure where I will land next year, and in what form KMC will relaunch, fear not as I will keep you posted - especially when I reopen my order book for 2018! The best way to hear first is to sign up to my mailing list - it's nice to give my subscribers first dibs!
A heartfelt thank you for supporting me on the Isle of Man for the last four years; you've helped me to become a full-time artist. I'm forever grateful.
[Photo (cropped to square): Mike Radcliffe Photography]
You may have seen me happy-dancing all over social media earlier this month, as one of my swallow side plates was featured in Country Living magazine!
I WAS VERY EXCITED! A sharp subscriber got in quick and nabbed this particular swallow plate from my Etsy shop before the September issue (released on 1st August - ah, publishing!) even hit the shops, but I have made a few more so orders can still be placed!
I'm particularly chuffed that the Isle of Man got a mention. Many thanks to Alaina Binks for including my work in the selection!
The studio shelves are heaving with new pots for events in July!
Next week I'll be out on the fair field on Tynwald Day amongst excellent foodies, makers, and of course, Vikings. That's Wednesday 5th July, 9am - 5pm!
Allowing just enough time after that to finish some extra pots and fire the kiln, the Celtfest Artisan Craft Fair is returning on Saturday 15th July, 12 - 5pm! This year it's part of The Gathering family day in Peel Cathedral and the neighbouring Corrin Hall, with mini-performances and workshops from Manx and visiting performers and teachers, as well as storytelling! To top it off, there will be PIZZA from Black Dog Oven and ICE CREAM from Stixx - hurray!
I've set myself up with a PayPal card reader, so I will be able to accept card payments for the first time - woohoo!
I was delighted to post a fresh batch of cups, side plates and pourers to the MOSTYN gallery shop last week, to be part of their Fauna showcase, I See A Creature, over the summer!
Based in Llandudno (must practice correct pronunciation...), Mostyn is the leading gallery for contemporary art in Wales. Founded in 1901 by Lady Augusta Mostyn, supposedly it was the first venue in the world specifically designed to exhibit the work of female artists, who were at that time excluded from the wider art scene. ACE!
I find myself at the end of April, highly anticipating 10 days of holiday that begins next Thursday. I've been particularly diligent in my production throughout the last 4 months. My nifty spreadsheet reminds me that I have spent a day throwing pots every week since 4th January. It tends to be a Tuesday, though in odd weeks a Wednesday - even a Monday 2 weeks ago! That totals 17 consecutive weeks. It has become my instinct to throw every week, to keep the production cycle in motion, to fire the kiln a few times a week - often primarily to keep the studio a warm and therefore conducive work environment. I promised myself not to exceed 20 items per week this year. 20 pots makes for a manageable morning of throwing, and depending on which forms I choose, usually makes a kiln load. I do my best work early and before lunch - a habit ingrained whilst living in the sub-tropical climate of the Gold Coast, which drives me crazy in the Manx winter - to the extent that I detest even an hour delay in starting work, as thanks to the time sensitive nature of clay, the pots drying time will be delayed and the blighters could dry out whilst I focus on other time-filling jobs.
The thought of not throwing in a week when I could induces a sense of guilt. I wonder if that's a marvellous success of cementing a productive habit, or a steam-roller to spontaneous creativity.
An unquestionable triumph has been adding a 2kg bowl to my weekly production list, in an effort to step up my throwing skills. This is the 8th week, and whilst the last 3 are yet to be fired (*touches wood*) I'm hugely please with the results. Naturally larger pots have a greater surface area, allowing for exciting decoration possibilities. I've returned to the field-inspired patterns, adding details in yellow and purple to represent gorse and heather. I'm using larger brushes for big sweeps of colour, whilst using some restraint to avoid overloading the pots with embellishment. It feels like a good direction. After my break I'll increase the bowls to 2.5kg, and somewhat shift my focus to other larger forms, firstly vases!
I'm so proud to announce that a selection of my work will be exhibited in the Summer Craft Collection at New Ashgate Gallery in Farnham, Surrey! Founded in the '60s, the gallery has been dedicated to championing the best contemporary art and craft for over 50 years. I'm deeply grateful to Helen Beard, who mentored me for 3 months in 2016, for an introduction to the gallery.
My pots will be in great company with ceramics and jewellery from emerging and established makers - huzzah!
I'm also thrilled to be stocking the gallery shop of The National Centre for Craft & Design in Sleaford! I've followed this gallery online for AGES and they host awesome, inventive projects and exhibitions, so I was super flattered when they asked me to supply their shop.
In 2016 I was thrilled to be selected for a mentorship programme organised by the Craft Potters Association, in partnership with Adopt a Potter. Paired with a long-time clay hero of mine, Helen Beard, I travelled to London in June with a bag of pots for an initial meeting and critique of my work, then we followed up with several Skype sessions over the following three months.
Helen gave a frank assessment of my pots, making suggestions such as pulling decoration further across the bases, and refining my potters marks. After some experimentation, I have followed up on both of these points and I’m very pleased with the results, especially the new Isle of Man map stamp. This smaller version now presses into the clay instead of printing with black stain.
Later in the year, I sent Helen some photos of my festive designs and she commented on the energy that the gold lustre dots created. I'm reluctant to use lustre outside of the festive season, but an experiment with dark blue underglaze has yielded some very satisfying results! The random patterns bring to mind pollen on the breeze, or insects buzzing through the air.
These subtle changes, along with Helen's feedback, have given me more confidence to increase some of my prices, which I did between July and December 2016, and will continue to review. Helen and I also worked through my website (hello!) to improve the visitor experience, by consolidating some pages and removing excess information.
With Helen’s encouragement I applied for the 2017 Contemporary Craft Festival in Bovey Tracey, for which I was thrilled to be accepted. Unfortunately the Festival dates coincide with a major sports event on the Isle of Man, making travel costs to the UK mainland prohibitive. I have taken confidence from that application process, and have applied for other events later in 2017.
Helen also assisted me in formulating a three year plan for growing my practice and business, to ultimately raise the profile of my work nationally and internationally. It was such a privilege to learn from Helen's experiences. I'm deeply grateful to the organisers for initiating the programme, and to Helen for sparing her precious studio time (her youngest child was only 9 weeks old when I visited, wow!).
Mentorships are incredibly valuable, I can't recommend them enough, whether informal or through a funded scheme. Many thanks to the Isle of Man Arts Council for supporting me with a small travel bursary, which enabled me to visit Helen's London studio.