In summer 2023 I took part in a sculpture exhibition in Stone Lane Gardens near Chagford on the edge of Dartmoor. The garden is found at the end of a narrow country lane and has a stream, several ponds and a national collection of birch and alder trees. I set up my series of lichen-effect ceramic forms at the end of April 2023 and they remained in place until the end of October 2023.
It was interesting to see how the work changed appearance with the changing seasons. A local photographer, Liz Mary Photography, took some beautiful photos in the autumn, when the leaf colours really set off the green forms. Thirty other artists took part, with sculptures made from granite, metal, plaster and ceramics. I was very happy to be a runner up in the public vote.
The forms rolled around over time and became slightly muddy, but they all survived. They are made of porcelain so can even survive frosts outdoors. I collected them the day after Storm Ciarán arrived in southern England, so I spent much of the day driving though downpours and seeing rainbows. The rain cleared just in time for me to pack up my ceramics. I am looking forward to taking part in more sculpture trails in 2024.
I had a week in Portugal in October 2023, teaching glaze workshops and visiting Oeiras Ceramic Art exhibition. I was invited to be an ambassador for the exhibition, together with other ceramic artists including Alberto Bustos and Yola Vale. We attended the opening night of the exhibition and gave a series of workshops and talks in Oeiras.
I was invited by ceramicist Luciana Cravo and business owner and exhibition organiser Catia Fernandes to teach two glaze workshops, one at Luciana’s studio and the other at Catia’s Ceramista shop and atelier. We spent the first day making glaze tests and then fired overnight and discussed the results the next day.
The kilns fired to a higher temperature than expected (cone 10 and above 1300C) but there were some great results with lava glazes and crawl glazes. The students also made glossy, matt, satin matt and crackle glazes. Each student made a base glaze and added various colouring oxides.
Luciana Cravo makes lava-glazed sculptures inspired by weathered rocks found on the beach. She was extremely welcoming and looked after me throughout my stay in Portugal, taking me for delicious lunches of bacalhau, pasteis de nata and also showing me around the national museum of tiles (azulejos) in Lisbon. We also visited the workshop on the top floor of the museum where tile panels are restored. Thank you for inviting me Luciana and Catia!
I recently took part in Pathways Art Trail, Hook Green Wood in Kent. Curated by Jemma Gowland and Jane Sarre, eight artists made art, sculpture and poetry inspired by the woodland. We also held a series of talks and workshops. My talk was about lichens found in the woods and how they can be affected by air pollution. Hook Green Wood has oak moss, evernia prunastri and also ramalina farinacea, both branched lichens which are sensitive to air pollution. We also found grey-green foliose lichen parmelia sulcata and the more pollution-tolerant yellow lichen xanthoria parietina. My ceramic forms were based on algae and fungi and showed the effects of air pollution on lichens. The series started with lichen-covered forms and ended with black and barren forms showing the lack of lichens in our air polluted city centres. Lichen biodiversity is important; birds use lichens in their nests, some animals eat lichen and it is often the first organism to colonise newly formed rocks, both volcanic and man made surfaces.