Thursday, September 24, 2015

Lost Dog finds a New Owner

Before I moved my workshop to Spain I taught in a prison in Sussex. It was a job that I thought I didn’t want to do, but what did I know (nothing it seemed). I was talked into it by the then head of education and he was right to. I also took on the work of organising the prison art awards with The Koestler Trust a national prison arts charity. It involved working with anyone interested in submitting their work each year to Koestler hoping to win an award. Such amazing talent and potential came out of this and it did change lives. At that time all the work had to go to Wormwood Scrubs for judging and I had to take it there, which was a big eye-opener!
Even now I still hear from my students of that time and those who turned their lives around though art and so when I was asked to donate a piece for work for the exhibition “Art as Opportunity” (showing now Downstairs at Mother at the Biscuit Building, Redchurch Street in Shoreditch) I did. 100% of sales go directly to supporting their work for the future. My pot has sold I am happy to say. “Lost Dog” from 2007 was a piece I wanted to keep (I don’t keep many), but when this opportunity to send it forward came along it seemed like the right moment to hitch the lost dog with a new owner. After all it was made when I worked as a prison teacher and it had all the connections to that time buried in its meaning.
Sales are all in the gallery and on-line here:

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Another Terrifying Kiln Experience

Reference to the last post; my kiln is on its own mission to give me a nervous breakdown. I have had a series of near misses in the kiln again, this time; "Shaky Firing Number 2".

In the kiln was this pot, an important piece that I really needed to get out in perfect condition. There were a lot of hours racked up in "Ray Gun Jar", particularly on the painting front.

The initial problem was that the first firing aborted due to a power cut in the village that took out everything for about 10 hours. This is never a problem on the biscuit firing cycle as I can re-start it. At glaze level this would spell a definite wipe-out, no one is restarting a glaze kiln and emerging pretty.

The repeat of the first firing was set off a few days later, but this program over-fired (see last post) and so I had broken all the rules again for that first biscuit firing which should be lower than the glaze firing and never exactly the same as in it was in this case, reaching 1100, with a 20 minute soak for good measure. The reason for this is so that when I come to the last stage of glazing the pot in the liquid soupy suspension of glaze the porosity of the surface enables a perfect covering of the surface; even and fine.  This jar was over fired and with a high ping/ring when flicked with finger and thumb and about a porous as a rubber tyre.

My method is to dip glaze by holding by the foot dangling over a big bucket, take a deep breath and down it goes, count to 3 and out it comes, covered in powdery white glaze. Well, I went ahead and did it, after all it worked last time and low and behold it did come back up covered in white powder. I can only think the ambient temperature here in Granada of 41 degrees Celsius must have something to do with this, it is tinder dry out there and a loaf of bread becomes desiccated bread in about half an hour if left out!

So, result….. bloody perfect pot! 36 centimetres tall, 15 inches. Views all around the pot below.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Bit of a Shakey Firing

These two made it through the firing, it was all touch and go for a while though.
I lost my electric connection to the kiln and had to have in reinstalled, this meant that I needed to be upgraded to a huge metal meter box, in the meantime all the armoured cable was stolen from the triple phase spur so this had to be replaced too.
First firing I thought was going to be easy, but I overfired by 100 degrees leaving the contents very strongly fired and potentially a problem to glaze. With no other choice other than to take a hammer to them I went for the dip and glazed them. With a heavy heart the kiln went back on. Surprise result last night to see them absolutely perfectly glossing and without a blemish in sight. 
So, do I do this method again? I think I might. For the potters: 1107 Celsius for the biscuit and 1107 C glaze! Shouldn’t have worked, but it did.

This is Jeremy Chivers the pottery cat who got in on the photography and felt that he should be featured as he is of the opinion that the plate behind him is all about his contrary ways and stunning personality!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Big Lipstick Vase

I have been working on this pot for a few weeks now, although we are looking here at Day 5 of painting. There has been a lot of preparation for this one and working out the colours and sizes of lipsticks has been painstaking. I had originally wanted add the names of the colours, this still may happen, but I am not sure where, there are going to be 53 lipsticks!

The numbers are important. On average, we are given 123 different pieces of advice every week, from sensible government guidelines, like what to eat or the most idyllic places to visit and so on. Actually, that's probably not strictly true: I found that statistic on the Internet, but it rather proves the point that you can assign a number to just about anything. Numbers work because they get our attention.

Lipstick always has a number, but when you buy it is the name is usually asked for, because there is nothing more empowering than going up to the makeup counter and asking boldly for "Magnet Red".

There is more to come on this subject, in words and pigment.

A very strong image below, Frida Kahlo's lipstick imprint on her letter to Bertram Wolfe, March 24, 1936.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Lipstick Tablets

Do you think I might have gone all rock and roll! No, I promise I haven't. This is very small tile and it is the first of a set called The Lipstick Tablets; each one is going to have a saying/proverb on it. This one is still a bit wet, but I wanted to share it with you as it was. Obviously references to the great Thiebaud here, although when the words arrive I think this will be less obvious. Click on the image and you can view quite big, see all that red lusious slip!

Exhibition in Granada

The Incredible Exploding Pomegranate: - Open now for registration from artists and anyone interested in what looks like it is going to be an extraordinary exhibition. I am helping to organise with Roberta Gordon-Smith and my daughter Jessica. The committee of selectors span all creative disciplines from the stage and screen to very serious artists, both English and Spanish. Please register if you are interested to find out more, following registration on-line submissions can be made from the 1st April for one month.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Scorpio Rising (again)

The black leather jacket has been the siren of cool for decades. As some or you know I ride a Sportster Harley Davidson and that means I get to hang out in the biker world from time to time. This involves a lot of cruising about in the sun and going on long trip to buy petrol.  Spain is a good place to do this and the groups of bikers who congregate here are the same the world over, so is their apparel. Although here in the heat, they do tend to rip off their sleeves, but the colours and the back patches still blaze out.

Leather jackets were first made in the standard issue sense as protective warmth for pilots in World War 1.  It was a logical step for the long jackets to be shortened and adapted with wind-fighting belts, buckles and asymmetrical zips for motorcyclists and they made it part of their identity ever since.  I am investigating, with this work, the biker jacket as a form of armour, the individual identities of the wearers is also very clear. They are like charm bracelets for bikers in many ways. Interesting too are the performance and stage jackets worn by musicians and actors, they are like magic cloaks, but in the same way a biker wears his jacket to afford some element of invincibility, so too does the performer.  

Monday, February 9, 2015


Huge FAB plate not yet fired. I am hoping this one will go into a box frame!