What an amazing town! So far, we’ve found it to be very friendly and open – people are starting up all sorts of businesses and projects all the time and the previously neglected old town is buzzing with loads of bonkers goings-on. and the coastline is just so lovely – yellow sandy beaches, chalk cliffs and reef and more rescue greyhounds than you can chuck a stick for.
The novelty of being able to walk on the beach every day may never ever fade. This photo was taken by Ian on Boxing Day. The tide’s out and you can see the chalk reef and all the beautiful pools and seaweed in this bay, and one of the massive wind farms off the coast.
At the minute we’re renting an enormous beautiful old house from Liam and Louise who run The Reading Rooms. We’re only really living in 2 rooms but I now have a brilliant studio space in one of the front rooms and have housed my kilns in the workshop in the yard. We’re only here until we can find the right place to buy but it’s a great (and slightly mad) place to live for now. I’m very excited that I’m just about to start teaching classes here.
Duchess just appeared outside my window one day and has spent the past 2 years hanging out with me in the studio. It turns out she belongs to a small girl called Chloe who has since moved house and left Duchess behind with Grandma, along with 2 bumptious new additions “Mick” and “Keith”, who don’t really want her around. She very much enriched my life and I think we both enjoyed the peace and quiet of studio life. Despite the urging of certain friends and family, I didn’t think it fair to steal somebody else’s cat. Even though I miss her very much.
Goodbye to Loughborough
My garden studio has been big enough for me to work in, but nothing like big enough for teaching groups so I’ve spent the last 2 years trying to find affordable premises to teach from. Charnwood Arts have been more than generous and very flexible with their Next Level Cafe, but this is a multi use space and I’ve been trying to find somewhere that I could set up in the same way as the old Pottery Cottage on Loughborough University campus. A chance meeting with our old friend Charlie Allen led us down to Margate in Kent and we very quickly fell in love with the town, put our house on the market and prepared to change our lives. It took all summer for the house sale to come through and after our last summer of love in our home in the Shires we packed 2 enormous lorries full of our posessions and headed southeast. We both moved to Loughborough as students a long time ago in the last century and have been so happy “growing up” there, it was very hard saying goodbye to friends but finally moving on felt like the right thing to do.
It’s been a bit mad this year – lots of fun, lots of hard work and some big changes. With one thing and another I havn’t made a single post since last April, so as it seems like the time of year for contemplation, I thought I’d do a little round-up of the year’s events since my last posting.
Harrogate – British Craft Trade Fair
Another good year at the BCTF – Ian tweaked the design of my stand, built some new shelving units, took some great photos of my work for posters, stroked me on the head, generally looked after me and made the stand look fab. And I won a “commended” award for excellence, which was nice.
As usual my neighbours were one of the best things about the fair and the quality of the work was brilliant. I particularly enjoyed Emma Williams‘ company and her lovely work, and I couldn’t resist swapping work with Deborah Barber and Michaela Grimshaw
Charnwood Potter’s Market
It’s always such a pleasure to do this event, to meet the friendly community of potters and to persuade the good folk of Charnwood to come and get their hands dirty on the potter’s wheel. This video is from 2013 when Gideon Cummings and Jo Keogh lent a hand with the “have a go on the potter’s wheel” stall. What larks Pip!
Open Garden and Secret Craft Fair
Janet Currie and Pete Mosley invited me into their shed this June, along with some fairies. More potter’s wheel fun, and some fairy wishes taken care of too. Janet’s beautiful garden also provided lots of inspiration for me, and she was kind enough to let me pick some plant specimens to use in my work.
Melton Country Fair
This was my 4th year doing this event, and it was every bit as enjoyable as usual, despite the unexpectedly cold weather! We were flat out all day, eventually having to turn people away when we ran out of boxes to put the finished pots in. Besides, we needed to stop – the food stalls were amazing and those cakes and wine wern’t going to eat and drink themselves!
Jo, Ian and I also did the Melton Victorian Xmas fair, which made the summer one seem positively tropical in comparison. At one point the gazebo nearly took off, I grabbed hold and felt my feet leave the ground before the other stallholders dashed to my rescue! Once the wind died down and the sun came back out we had fun though – the fair had a really lovely atmosphere, and even though my attempt at authentic Victorian costume was a touch pathetic, Ian and Jo looked great!
I had a very rewarding time working with Jemma Bagley and her RawArts group – Charnwood Arts collaborate with the NHS and invite adults with long term mental health illnesses to join this creative group. I’ve worked with RawArts before and here are links showing a Raku day we did and a really beautiful book project called “Tea with Alice” that the group did with Jemma, Jo Sheppard and myself.
I also did lots of Raku this summer
A couple of sessions in Queen’s Park Loughborough with Charnwood Arts