I hate clutter, but my life is lived in a permanent state of clutter and untidiness from which my studio does not escape. I try to keep it habitable, but somehow I seem to work better in chaos, although I take care to ensure that the finished piece of work is not sloppy. My Studio is a small space (a Summerhouse in any other life) in the garden. I look out onto trees and plants and I know that behind me is a stream, meadow, canal, fields and the Chilterns. All of these feed my imagination and Creativity.
Inspiration is the nub of an idea, either a photograph, or preferably a landscape view ‘en plein air’, which will later germinate into a physical creation. I also ‘need’ to work, either to tease out a pot from a vague idea. The need to produce in a physical, tangible form, an idea which is rolling around in my mind sustains me as an artist and the need to make a living drives me, they feed off each other. If it wasn’t in clay, it would need to be by some other process. When I need to develop new work, I don’t often sit down and think “lets have a new idea”. It is a process of osmosis where one piece or style of work leads onto or suggests a development to another stage.
Once I have an idea, I will sometimes make very rough (and very poor) sketches, usually on scraps of paper which I later have to rescue from the recycle bin. When working on the wheel new shapes, will develop from others, often by accident! If I have a lull in the flow of new ideas. I find going back to basics; either throwing 100 mugs, or simple hand building, usually stimulates the grey cells into doing something different!
I have always had creativity inside me, but it only blossomed into a concrete form around the age of 25. I had wanted to be an actor. At School I got 5% in Mock Science O Level and refused point blank to take the proper exam, and bugged everyone until I was allowed to do Art O level (for which I received my best marks). Later Ceramics came into my life almost by accident, but I was hooked. I built, literally, my first studio and immersed myself in making and selling Pots. I also returned to teaching, Ceramics, this time rather than English and Drama. After a period when I was teaching full time, my own creativity stopped and I had a need to do something completely different. Many years later the call of the clay could no longer be resisted and I returned to full time Potting. Now it informs my life! It’s a visual response, by looking at everything from a different point of view, seeing ‘a pot’, potentially in every view or landscape.
With regard to commissions, I don’t really like them, unless the brief is VERY open. When some one has said’ make me one like that’, they usually end up saying, ‘but its not same colour’ or ‘the shape is different’ as if the pieces were made on a production line and from moulds. If I make thrown domestic ware then the work is repeatable, but less satisfying to do. The open brief can be quite satisfying, but if the commission is not something that I enjoy doing then I am afraid that it takes a back seat in my list of priorities.
I don’t really enjoy the process of selling or marketing my own work. ‘Artist and Makers’ Fairs, ( I don’t like the “Craft Market” scenario as it rather gets mixed up with knitted tea cosies and stuff my Mother used to make for Church Bazaars, which I hasten to add have their place in the order of things!), are my main source of direct outlet. I take part in our County Open Studios fortnight, which I find interesting and rewarding. I am delighted if Galleries are interested in taking/buying my work, although I dislike the process of having to present myself and my work for scrutiny. If money were no object then I would play around with ideas more than I am able to do now, experiment and ‘play’ with different techniques. I have a website, which I am very bad about keeping up to date, thankfully, my Webmaster is good at nagging me. I don’t do twitter or Facebook. Fortunately there will always be people who want to buy hand crafted work, and will pay for it, preferring that to the mass produced and significantly cheaper, items in various stores. It is just a case of finding them!