In a former life I was a very bored graphic designer! In my spare time and to feed my creative self, I’d go to local galleries and craft centres to look at all the beautiful things other people had made. There were 2 places I’d visit the most… The Boilerhouse Gallery and Walford Mill Craft Centre.
I wished that I was some kind of artist or maker able to make lovely things and sell them instead of spending most of my time moving type and pictures around on a computer screen! So, as I had a friend who was a potter and seemed pretty content, I decided to give pottery a go and began a short course in Ceramics. I was totally addicted! I made every mistake possible but learnt a lot from my mistakes. Soon I was selling my ware at local craft events and in a couple of gift shops.
7 years later, The Boilerhouse Gallery asked if I’d like to join the co-operative. I was so excited (but tried to sound very cool which is something I’m totally rubbish at!). Now, every time I go to the gallery, I remind myself that this is what I dreamt of and to be thankful (even when it’s minus temperatures because we have no heating!).
Today, 10 years later, I’ve been asked to put some of my sculptures in Walford Mill Craft Centre. I feel that this is a massive compliment to my work, as they are extremely selective about who’s work they sell. I know it’s small scale compared to exhibiting somewhere like the Contemporary Ceramics Centre in London, BUT it is a BIG step in the right direction!
It’s taken a long time, but not bad considering I’ve had 2 children along the way! My thought now is ‘where to next’!?
Today I was ‘manning ship’ at the Boilerhouse Gallery (an artists co-operative that I’m extremely lucky to be a part of). Whilst there, I decided to make good use of my time and do some work on a commission for an ammonite. People who visit the gallery love to see the artists at work.
The piece I’m working on is for a lovely man with a keen interest in paleontology and who has purchased several of my sculptures. I’m very keen to give him something that he’ll love!
I was at the gallery for 4 hours. Apart from my time dealing with customers, most of this time was spent making adjustments to the shell to get it to balance! It didn’t help that as it was a beautifully sunny day, the clay was drying quicker than I could build. Finally though, I triumphed and felt a major sense of achievement when it finally stood without toppling over!
It’s not often I get attached to things I make, but I’m feeling slightly sad to see this piece go! I really enjoyed the technical challenge of making the ‘shell’. It took quite a lot of attempts to get the proportions of the spiral correct and I had to work with the clay when it was quite hard so the shell didn’t collapse (as it’s totally hollow and made from lots of coils). It was also quite difficult attaching the ‘tendrils’ so they remained vertical and didn’t flop. I hope the new owner enjoys looking at it as much as I enjoyed making it!
Today, whilst stewarding at Durlston Country Park Gallery (an amazing exhibition space perched close to a cliff edge near Swanage) an elderly lady who was blind enjoyed holding one of my larger sculptures (photo above). She spent a long time running her fingers over the surface, feeling the different shapes and textures. I felt so pleased that the sculpture could be enjoyed by someone for it’s tactile quality and not just the aesthetic. This was a very proud and emotional moment for me.
Phew! It seems people actually like my new work… I’ve had so much positive feedback from people, it’s been quite overwhelming. We’re just 4 days into Purbeck Art Weeks and I’ve sold several pieces, which I’m really happy about. More importantly though, people are interested… They want to know how I’ve made the sculptures, sources of inspiration, what clay I’ve used and quite a few people have even asked if the they’ve been carved out of stone! I couldn’t have wished for a better response.
Only 2 more days until the Private Viewing and I’m starting to feel nervous… my new work is quite different to what I’ve done before and I’m worried that everyone’s going to think it’s rubbish! Is this how all artists/crafters feel about their work when it first appears in the eyes of the general public? Whilst I had made the decision that I wasn’t going to worry about sales (as I felt that stifled my creativity)… now I really hope that people are going to like my work enough to make a purchase! Hmm, have I made a terrible mistake?!
I spent a very blustery few hours down the beach today taking photos of my Ceramics. I struggled with work being blown over and getting sand blasted. However I was up against a deadline – ‘Dorset’ Magazine is running an article on my work and asked for a ‘nice’ picture of me – I’m not sure this one’s going to get used!!
After having my second child, I made the decision to take a couple of years off from launching a new collection of work. However, when I saw that the theme for Purbeck Art Weeks (our local arts festival) was ‘Out of the Depths’, which fitted perfectly with some ideas that had been bouncing around my head for a while, I decided to join in the fun!! With the front cover image competition deadline looming, I made a prototype to test out a new type of clay. Once fired, I took the finished sculpture down to my local beach in Swanage, Dorset. I took some photos and promptly entered the competition… And amazingly I won! The only problem is now I’m going to be spending every waking hour getting a new body of work together… not going to be easy with a toddler and a home-educated 10 year old to look after!!