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 have been making new work for Collect, the international art fair for exceptional craft and design presented by the Crafts Council. This year Collect will be online on Artsy from 26 February to 26 March. I will be exhibiting with Design Nation, along with other makers of ceramics, jewellery, furniture and textiles. I was inspired by lichens seen on a walk to the post office. I have made a video of my walk:
I have been making new work for an installation at Somerset House as part of Collect, the international craft and design fair presented by the Crafts Council from 27th February to 1st March 2020. My installation will bring attention to the effects of global warming and pollution on lichens. The lichen crusts will become darker and fewer, eventually disappearing altogether. Lichens are indicators of clean air and are affected by sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide from burning fossil fuels. If all the lichen disappeared from rocks and trees worldwide, global warming would increase significantly.
I made a number of glaze tests to give the effect of lichens on rocks. I like the crustose form of lichen; the white and yellow patches that grow on rocks and roofs. These are more pollution resistant than the green lichens that grow on trees. I applied the lichen glazes over matt grey glazes on closed forms representing basalt and limestone boulders and stromatolites, ancient fossilised mounds of blue-green algae, one of the first forms of life on earth that oxygenated our atmosphere.
I am looking forward to exhibiting at Collect. There are other makers exhibiting including Margo Selby, as well as international galleries Ting-Ying and Flow Gallery. There is also an exhibition next door on Mushrooms: The Art, Design and Future of Fungi.
Collect, 27th February- 1st March 2020, Somerset House, The Strand, London WC2R 1LA.
I’m looking forward to this year’s Artists at Home open studios. I will be showing new work, one-off pieces, porcelain tableware, as well as samples and seconds. The roses are in full bloom and the weather is looking good. You are welcome to visit on Friday evening 15 June 6-9pm or Saturday or Sunday 11am-6pm. 21 Flanchford Road, Stamford Brook, London W12 9ND.
This year I am sharing my studio with textile artist Ekta Kaul who makes beautiful scarves and map quilts. She will be bringing her community project Chiswick without Borders, an embroidered map of Chiswick connecting inhabitants to their roots all over the world. She will also bring her silk scarves and large map quilts.
There are several other artists showing in the area, Juliet Strong who makes jewellery across the road from me and Kate and Jonathan of Starch Green, who make prints. You can find them on the Artists at Home website or pick up a booklet from local shops and libraries in Chiswick, Hammersmith and Shepherd’s Bush.
Design Nation put together a lovely exhibition called Head, Hand and Heart with talks and demonstrations during London Craft Week 2018. The exhibition was held in Helen Yardley studio, where she designs and makes her bold, abstract rugs. Curated by Design Nation, Helen Yardley and leading design journalist Barbara Chandler, the show included Harriet Elkerton and Linda Bloomfield ceramics, Anna Gravelle, Angie Parker and Jacky Puzey textiles, Hugh Miller furniture, Christine Meyer-Eaglestone marquetry, Gizella Warburton textile vessels, Ruth Singer textile and found objects, and Clare Wilson glass vessels. There was a panel discussion chaired by Barbara Chandler, a pecha kucha session and demonstrations of weaving, rug tufting, porcelain throwing, marquetry and Japanese textured carving.
All the work was beautiful but the most intricate piece was the ‘In Shadows’ cabinet by Hugh Miller. Inside were beautiful ceramic cups with a crystalline matt glaze by a Japanese potter from Osaka, as well as wooden boxes containing coffee, exquisitely carved spoons and whisks. The slatted doors, outer ones in bamboo and inner ones slatted with thin brass rods, cast shadows to give a dimly lit atmosphere like inside a Japanese tea house. “‘In Shadows’ is inspired by Japanese applied arts philosophy and is made in British elm, Japanese Bamboo and Brass. The timber is stained black with Japanese calligraphy ink. Hidden within is a Japanese coffee set by renowned ceramic artist Saiko Fukuoka. Over 1000 man-hours have been invested in its construction, including the hand finishing of over 150m of solid drawn brass.” Hugh Miller. Photos by Dan Weill for London Craft Week.
The exhibition will be travelling to Eunique trade show in Karlsruhe, Germany, 8-10 June 2018.
Last Saturday was the opening of our exhibition at Sarah Wiseman Gallery in Summertown, north Oxford. I met Sarah Spackman many years ago at a craft fair and she bought some of my pots to paint. Then, when we were both demonstrating at Art in Action at Waterperry Gardens near Oxford, we swapped a painting for some pots. For the Dialogues exhibition, I made some bottles inspired by Giorgio Morandi’s still life paintings and Sarah included them in some of her new paintings. I particularly like the painting below which includes some of my bottles and a plate of cherries. Sarah trained at Camberwell and loves painting still life compositions with hints of bright colour.
Earlier in the year we visited Sarah’s studio in Oxford and bought a painting. Sarah has shelves of pottery and objects which she arranges in still life compositions. She likes likes to paint fruit or flowers in season, often from her allotment or a friend’s tree.
The exhibition continues until 30 September. You can see the exhibition catalogue here.
Last week I took part in an exhibition on Marks and Tools put together by Design Nation at Oxo Tower Wharf. The curator was Liz Cooper, who brilliantly pulled together all the work from 23 different makers and designers. Interiors journalist Barbara Chandler wrote an online showcase about the makers and their tools. As well as ceramics, glass, textiles and furniture, there were photographs of all the makers using their favourite tools and talks from textile artist Margo Selby, glass blower Michael Ruh and ceramicist and printmaker Hannah Tounsend. Other exhibitors included Anna Gravelle who makes tufted textiles, Gillies Jones who make beautiful glass bowls and furniture designer Hugh Miller. What I loved about the exhibition was that it showed furniture, tableware, textiles, lighting and wall pieces together as you would have them in your home, rather than the way they are usually separated into different categories in museums. Design Nation bring together designers and makers from different areas, encouraging collaboration and innovation.
I am excited that my next book Science for Potters is coming out soon. The cover shows a pair of Atomic Bottles by Kate Malone, covered with atoms and crystals. The book will cover chemistry, geology, clay, crystals, the science behind colour and glazes. For anyone who would like to know a bit more about the science of pottery.
I have been asked to teach several glaze courses in 2017.
A new pottery school is opening in Forest Row in Sussex. I will be teaching glazes there 0n 17-19 February 2017. Contact Katrina Pechal on 0789 444 7938. You can visit the school when they open in December, courses start in January with tutors including Stephen Parry and Ruthanne Tudball.
The founder Katrina Pechal says, “ I am saddened to see so many high-level ceramics courses around the country closing. My days training at Camberwell School of Art were inspiring, having lessons with famous potters like Takashi Yasadu, Colin Pearson and Ewen Henderson among others was a great privilege and I want the next generation of potters to have the same opportunities. I have noticed a recent increase in the popularity of pottery, thanks in part to the BBC’s “The Great Pottery Throw Down. I feel this is a perfect time to move to a bigger site with better facilities where I can help students to train and develop their craft”.
Forest Row School of Ceramics will be based in the Rachel Carson building at Emerson College, set in beautiful grounds within walking distance of the village. It offers outdoor space, which Katrina needs for a kiln site (a kiln-building workshop run by Joe Finch, Potter and author of Kiln Construction (a brick by brick approach), is already planned for early next year). Emerson also has more classrooms Katrina can utilise as she expands plus affordable student accommodation it needed.
Forest Row is three miles from East Grinstead in Sussex, situated next to the idyllic Ashdown Forest yet within easy access of the M23/M25 and a short drive from Gatwick Airport, the South Downs and the creative hub of Brighton.
I will also be teaching colour in glazes at West Dean College on 5-9 March (the course is now full but you can try the waiting list), and demonstrating throwing and glazes all weekend at the Scottish Potters’ Spring Workshop at Tulliallan on 10-12 March.
For anyone in London there are glaze courses at the Morley College in February and April but I will not be teaching them.
Exciting news: I will be teaching a glaze course in Belgium in 2018.
If you can’t come on a course, you can still learn from my books.
I often receive emails asking about glaze problems. It seems that students on ceramics degree courses are not taught very much about science or understanding the materials, but concentrate more on learning about art and design ideas and philosophy.
In Chemistry at school, I loved the periodic table. It neatly groups the elements so that each column contains elements with similar properties which react chemically in the same way, with metals on the left and centre and non-metals on the far right. The periodic table here shows the elements found in clays and glazes. The blank spaces are elements of less interest to potters. You can find the complete periodic table here.
I have been writing a book on Science for Potters for the American Ceramic Society. Several chapters are being published in Ceramics Monthly. You can read the full article on Chemistry for Potters here Bloomfield_Feb16
Originally published in February 2016 issue of Ceramics Monthly, p60-64. http://www.ceramicsmonthly.org . Copyright, The American Ceramic Society. Reprinted with permission.