Hello Margate

Hello Margate

 

Margate from Westbrook Bay
Margate from Westbrook Bay

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.

New studio

At the minute we’re renting an enormous beautiful old house from Liam and Louise who runĀ 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.

A busy year – Goodbye Lougborough

Goodbye to my studio assistant

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.

Very purry
Very purry
Found a shady spot
Found a shady spot

 

"helping" me package pots to post
"helping" me package pots to post

Goodbye to Loughborough

Lovely loughborough - photo Kev Ryan
Lovely Loughborough - photo Kev Ryan

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.

sniffle!
sniffle!
Flowers from Loughborough University Arts team
Flowers from Loughborough University Arts team

A busy year

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.

Ian and his fantastic modular stand
Ian and his fantastic modular stand
Award winners at the BCTF
Award winners at the BCTF

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

Emma Williams at the BCTF
Emma Williams at the BCTF
Raku bird by Deborah Ann Barber
Raku bird by Deborah Ann Barber
Slip decorated mug by Michaela Grimshaw
Slip decorated mug by 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.

fairies at the bottom of the garden
fairies at the bottom of the garden
Pete and Janet's lovely garden
Pete and Janet's lovely garden
bisque pots painted with oxide
bisque pots painted with oxide
fresh from the kiln
fresh from the kiln
Trays on a "bird table" plinth amongst the flowers
Trays on a "bird table" plinth amongst the flowers

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!

Victorian potters
Victorian potters - photo Jo Keogh
Jo looking much more convincingly Victorian than me
Jo looking much more convincingly Victorian than me
"Have a go on the potter's wheel" Melton Victorian Xmas Fair
"Have a go on the potter's wheel" Melton Victorian Xmas Fair
Potting with a broken leg at Melton Country Fair
Potting with a broken leg at Melton Country Fair

RawArts

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.

Raku

I also did lots of Raku this summer
A couple of sessions in Queen’s Park Loughborough with Charnwood Arts

Young Raku potters
Young Raku potters - in Queen's Park, Loughborough

A birthday party for Jemma Bagley in Nita Rao‘s lovely studio and garden

Getting ready to light the burner
Getting ready to light the burner at Nita Rao's studio
Fired pots in the reducing bin
Fired pots in the reducing bin at Nita Rao's studio

Some at The Green Space in Sileby

Raku bottles at The Green Space Sileby
Raku bottles at The Green Space Sileby
raku egg cup
photo - Jo Keogh

People are so enthusiastic and inspiring whenever we Raku. It’s the best thing ever!