Tuesday, January 10, 2017

New Year and new opportunities (I hope).

The United Colours of Disarmament

Oh my! It’s so cold in Granada in the winter!

The closing weeks of 2016 have been a series of tragic, comic and downright irritating incidents that got in the way of constant working. Funerals tend to come in clusters and they did in the closing weeks. But despite all this and the viruses that I pick up commuting to Spain I got though it. Worthing has been balmy with sunshine and this has helped the thought processes for the works for 2017. And we have also seen our extraordinary Jess complete two years of painting for her forthcoming exhibition in February reach its climax.

I finished a vase at the end of the year which I hope to submit for The Woman's Hour Craft Prize and V&A initiative. The Craft prize 2017 aims to find and celebrate the most innovative and exciting craft practitioner/s or designer-maker/s resident in the UK today. My intention was to make this vase as a maquette for the second, bigger version and a way of addressing some of the tricky mathematics that I have encountered in this design. So I have made a start on the next one, but the conditions (freezing) are not great back on the old workbench.

The longevity of the Lipstick idea which has been occupying my mind is clearly going to be enduring. I still have much to make and say on this subject, I still need a venue for the ‘Lipstick Tablets’. The very big blue vase 'Painting by Numbers' was sold at the close of last year pictured below. Seeing this one go left me feeling that I need to develop this work on the numbers, names and colours and these elements will form the basis of the current vase.

Painting by Numbers

I continue to be intrigued by the names lipsticks are given. The labels lipsticks were given in the past are absolutely priceless and present day naming is also another social article yet to be written. What I have discovered is that combining colour with a name (and a number) makes it do things. Add a verb to describe a colour or put it at some location where it assumed an activity, like ‘Cinema Pink’  number 67 for example (Estee Lauder, discontinued) a case of colour in action, or getting some action! I wonder what Revlon was thinking of when they named ‘Fatal Apple’ number 230 which is a red as Snow Whites’ rosebud lips and still a current colour. This just goes to show that a name can be a reason for its longevity.



Queen Elizabeths lipstick is a soft red-cobalt hue and was coined “The Balmoral,” probably made by Elizabeth Arden as this brand holds a royal warrant. It was commissioned specially for her coronation in 1952.

Finally, I find this very interesting and proof of the psychological effect of lipstick, for duration of the Second World War, all cosmetic products were rationed in the United Kingdom, however, there was one exception, yes you guessed, the lipstick! Winston Churchill declared that lipsticks would be kept in production as he thought that would have a positive effect on the morale of the English people! Lipstick sales went to an all-time high during the war!


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Getting Back to Work

Getting back to work after being in England is always difficult. Particularly after parting with so many pots on this trip. I know, it is what is meant to happen, but it is still a wrench when it does and when it happens over the course of a few days it is even more so.

I had an exhibition in a beautiful country house in Sussex where I showed the Lipstick Vase (Painting by Numbers) and the Beetle Jar, both fairly big pieces. They looked amazing in their setting and they both sold to the same collector which was very nice.

I also said goodbye to the Garden Pot above which was privately commissioned and is destined to live in Edinburgh. The Mushroom jar also sold privately and the shell pots went to their new home.

So now it is back to work and to get the slip flowing I have started on  large panel of tiles. These are going to be bright and in your face with the mushroom design. They are going into my little casa in the mountains which is badly in need of some renovation work, if they work as a whole then we will make more for a whole splash back!


Thursday, September 1, 2016

Some work from the last Kiln Full


A great firing by all accounts was the order of the day! I had to stay with them at the studio in the mountains this time. It took me 5 hours to pack the kiln with a very elaborate stack of kiln shelves and props to protect each pot from temperature fluctuations. Did I mention it was 38 degrees outside? Above is The Seaside Pleasure Vase. 33 cm tall and a pleasure to paint with all those colours!


 The botanical commission ginger jar above was huge amount of work with a lot of cutting in, happy to say it came though without a blemish I always worry about copper flashing with a pot like this. All sides of this piece can be seen on Facebook.


I am just MAD for this one. It is so cute and that lid is just like a mushroom cap. 23 cm tall. Loads of noxious oxides to get the reds and yellows so bright. The pot is quite stable now though, it is only my health that was at risk while I painted it.


The pair of Art Deco inspired shell jars. 21 cm tall


And I have started making the ray dishes again. I had forgotten how mush scraffito one of these takes. but worth the scratching for the effect. The one below was done by my new assistant. 10/10 for her work!


Thursday, July 7, 2016

New Pots for a New Exhibition


The Magic Mushroom pot is one of the new pieces for Whithurst Place in West Sussex, UK. I am also experimenting with the shell motif, it lends itself very well to the grandeur of the the venue that I will be showing in. Below are a pair which are a commission to be delivered in September, I will be using the same themes for a much bigger piece. 


The first drawings for these designs were pen and ink followed by watercolour. It is interesting that I am drawn to the fan shape because I see echos of it in the mushrooms too.





Thursday, June 2, 2016

After The Party is Over



It's two months since I posted last! That was the eve of the journey back to England with the pots for the pots big day out in London and the Earls Court Road exhibition at Gallery 286. Photo above is of Andrew, my husband and me in Chelsea.

It was the best experience ever! The people where incredible and so colourful, all this was greatly helped by my staying at The Chelsea Arts Club for the first week which was brilliant, I don’t think I have laughed, talked, drunk or eaten so much in my life. Below is Jonothan Ross the gallery owner with Andrew Logan.


There was a great rush for the Ray Gun Plates and they all sold on the first night as did the Lime Mivvi Jar. Two more preview events saw more sales and in the end half the collection sold.





My old ceramics teacher Sue Nichols came to the preview with our technician of the time Sheila Williams, it has been a long time since they have seen my work in the flesh and in such salubrious surrounding it was all very emotional. Photo below of college days in the Ceramics workshop. Sue and Shelia are 2nd from left and 3rd from left and that’s me in the homemade smock (from an old pair of old curtains).


Thank you to everyone who came and who followed the journey of making all the work. I am already onto the next project and the next exhibition is in September in Petworth, West Sussex.

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Processes

I have finished all the work for England and it is being packed up now ready for the trip from Spain to The Jonathan Ross Gallery in London the details of which are here.  In preparation for the exhibition let’s revisit how I make the work. The process is probably over complicated by me and it is certainly a longwinded making process. Someone said to me when they saw the Mivvi jars all in a row a few days ago, ‘Oh wow and you do this on the computer then stick it on?’ And I suppose it does have that quality of looking somewhat seamless, but really that has just come with years of practice and getting better at it.

Every step and process is done by my hand and it begins at the potting stage when I am making the shape. All the jars and vases are hand built with coils, slowly and carefully. The ZOOM 1976 vase below is 55 centimetres high and took me 5 days to make. The painting took me a whole lot longer though! Why 1976? Well, it was a very good summer, but it will mean different things to different people.


People who have visited me in my studio are probably surprised to see that as part of my creative process I start with what can only be described as piles of papers, but that is because deep down I am a collector. For years, I have been filling up boxes and folders with saved scraps of paper that interest me. It is these papers that eventually end up as the starting point for a new pot or collection of pots.

Normally, in my ordered folders things stay among their own kind. Bicycles are with road markings and toy guns are, at a push, with water pistols and ray guns, but separated.  Storing pictures and information for my artwork is very important and this super organised system works, but only as a depository. When I actually need to do something with them, I need a bit of chaos.  The images and scraps that I have gathered together are like the ingredients for a recipe that need to mix and start talking to each other.  I think it is when the interest in the collected subject (s) becomes overpoweringly compulsive that I begin to move pieces from that pile to join another. This then begins a new, potentially explosive, mixed pile that I might work with. However if a mix doesn’t work out then everything gets separated back into their own folders for another time.

This is exactly how it happened with the latest collection with the Zoom lollies and the peace symbols, latterly joined by the ray guns. This mixed box is still active and is on my work bench now.  All the original colour copies are substituted by line drawings so that they can be replicated and re sized and so that I don’t spoil the original images.

See below the current mix, new additions are the eyes (best copies), used once before in the vase of 55 eyes.



It is a peculiar way of working that has evolved from my early days of childhood scrap book making. This was an activity that I loved; Gloy glue that you oozed out of funny red rubber top with a slit (I once tried it on my lips because it looked like lipstick).

It all comes full circle to my being a collector of information and material. Early childhood conditioning showed me that to own the paper copy of the coveted item was as good as the real thing and actually probably better.

So, it is interesting how this early “hard wiring” of the personality is still core to the way I interpret and manage all the "stuff" that is out there.  Once things are in my scrapbook, box or folder they are mine and I lay claim to them. Many of the objects I am attracted to now have been with me all my life as memory, by collecting the paper versions I am sorting them out. They are quite literally the fabric of who I am.

Ironically, in the end, the true collection is what remains in my mind. The pieces of paper remain, but they become so disorganised once worked with it can take years for the process to throw them up again.

According to Susan Stewart in her book “On Longing”, a collection seeks a form of self-enclosure where history is replaced by some form of classification. She says; “The collection is a form of art as play, a form involving the reframing of objects within a world of attention and manipulation of context.  Like other forms of art, its function is the creation of a new context, a context standing in a metaphorical relation to the world of everyday life.”

For me the collection is a continuation, an intrinsic part of life and creation.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Ray Guns


New Ray Guns for the forthcoming exhibition at Jonathan Ross's Gallery 286 at 286 Earls Court Road, SW5 9AS London. I am just in the last throws of firing everything ready for the show on 12th April. These plates here are all unfired in the photographs, when fired they will each be box framed, I am hoping to have 9 ready for the 12th, but I have lost 2 to cracks so as usual it is an inexact science!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

From Santa to Star Wars


Hello ,
In a Christmas nutshell the festive season is upon us. It is actually a great time for me to get on with making pots and I also have the best excuse to wriggle out of any duties because I have an exhibition coming up in London in April. This is a terrifying yet welcome form of distraction from darting about purposefully with useful biro-ed instructions on my hand. The latest shock was discovering the word "Turkey" on my hand. This caused me more than a moment of disbelief and suspicion as I pondered; was it a reference to an idea involving the country or had I completely lost it and decided to go all traditional on the day. One or the other...
So pre-occupying myself in the studio is the place for me to be, a break away from the pre-Christmas cacophony; ("I want Alex Marwood’s latest book. I want a thermal vest. I need some fluffy bed socks and by-the-way, the cat's broken a tooth") and to spend a quiet Christmas in the pottery. I've thought ahead and everyone knows what to expect including what to cook and I’ve got The Archers on permanent podcast.
Even Star Wars is booked (English Version Original in Granada). The event is possibly not going to be quite the theatrical experience I was hoping for, dressed as Obi Wan (its cold in there), Leia (daughter, with extra hairpins and lacquer at the ready) and Indiana Jones (he’s got it slightly wrong). This viewing luxury will be just that; as a party of three in a cinema that holds 200 accompanied by just a few other random English viewers. Although there will also be the usual small group from FAAS; Federación Andaluza de Asociaciones de Personas Sordas who in their deafness will be experiencing the film via Spanish subtitles. A jaunty saunter through rosy-cheeked crowds in the cinema foyer will take us all of 10 minutes. It’s a big foyer!
My Exhibition date for your 2016 diaries:
12th April 2016 at Gallery 286
286 Earl's Court Road
London SW5 9AS

E: jross@gallery286.com
T: 07747 807 576
I will be showing with Jennifer Binnie painter and Alex Binnie Tattoo artist and printmaker.
Full details to be released soon.
Merry Christmas from the pottery!