Bathroom odyssey

A while ago, around last Christmas in fact, I decided it was high time I turned my attention to the original bathroom in The Ceramic House, which remains the only room untouched by me since moving in 6 years ago.

I decided to use the gorgeous blue and white Portuguese tiles I have brought back from flea markets in Porto and Lisbon over 2 years and 2 fabulous holidays. I made some tiles to go with them using some of the motifs and tiling duly began, but it only got so far as time and tiles ran out. This was in January, preceding my imminent departure for the residency in Denmark.

Before leaving, I designed the main feature – the panel of tiles above the bath – using architectural Portuguese tiles found on building facades across Portugal as my inspiration. I made 8 different press moulds with a low relief and since I got back from Denmark I’ve had volunteers press moulding away in my studio.

We finished making them last week, and since then it’s been back to back firings in my 3 large kilns to get them finished on time.

Yesterday I went in to unload and reload the kiln I thought would be ready to open, and, to my horror, discovered it had not fired to top temperature and had to start it again!

I’ve just unloaded the other kiln, which fired successfully, and quickly reloaded with hot shelves.

Hopefully it should all be ready in time for Tuesday, when the tiler’s coming. He may well be tiling with hot tiles, which wouldn’t be the first time! Typically all happening last minunte and just in time for the opening of Fantastic Tales on Thursday…I hope!


I am working with a filmmaker and we decided, for our first venture, to do a documentary about The Ceramic House.

Another filmmaker friend has been conscientiously documenting, through film, all the previous exhibitions at The Ceramic House over the past 3 years, including fabulous happenings such as the troupe of performers who did a site-responsive series of performances at the opening event in 2012. But all of these many hours of footage have languished in his office, with nothing doing! Until now.

Nicki Lang, owner of Snowflake Films, has dusted the tapes off and used them to make a 2.5 minute film to give a taste of what has been before and what is to come. Needless to say, this, being my most ambitious project so far, will undoubtedly be the most spectacular show at The Ceramic House so far. Watch on…


The Ceramic House promo for Fantastic Tales: the first 3 years


Things are hotting up as the big date for the opening gets nearer. It’s been non-stop since I last found the time to write a blog post.

The main thing has been to get the catalogue to a stage for proofing. I can’t believe this has happened in a week!

Big things that have been achieved in the last 8 days:

I had a mentoring session with the curator Charlotte Dew, who came to The Ceramic House and gave me feedback on the curation of the show and to discuss the catalogue.

Lise Seisbøll, director of Grimmerhus Museum of Danish Ceramic Art, sent an essay about contemporary Danish ceramics for the catalogue.

The photos that Sylvain Deleu took of the Danish artists’ work arrived, and are fabulous.

I got my head down and wrote 3 pieces of “serious” text for the catalogue, which was really satisfying.

I found an emergency carpenter to cut, within a day, two huge boards and mounts for my installation and one of the Danish artists. Within an hour of picking the wood up, another carpenter came round and got them on the wall for me. This was nothing short of miraculous. Normally dealing with any kind of tradesman comes with a lot of frustration (I believe I have authority to expound upon this issue; I have had a lot of builders through The Ceramic House!)

Matthew Andrews photographed my new installation (the smaller soda-fired version made in Denmark). I thought I would get it on the wall in time for him, but we photographed it on the floor, which was possibly better, as we were able to move the pieces around. While he was in my employ, we went off on a photography tour and shot two private commissions I did in Brighton towards the end of last year – a kitchen and a piece for a conservatory, and have been waiting to get them photographed for the folio.

I have now managed to mount this piece, which took 1.5 days. I still have to do the bigger one for the Regency Town House!

Throughout the week I had volunteers beavering away in my studio press-moulding tiles for the Portuguese bathroom. Every day, I found time to spend with them, as well as all the thousand things I had to do.

A meeting with my graphic designer to get the catalogue in shape. Everything slotted into place like clockwork. Amazing.

Charlotte Dew edited the catalogue. She has been a saviour. One of the fantastic things I really appreciate is that everyone has been pulling their weight and making sure it all gets done. I know I work to an extremely fast pace; I am very industrious, and not everyone works that way. But everyone has done their bit and made this all happen, which is vital for success. I am pleased to say that I have a good team; everyone is reliable, professional and extremely competent! Yes!

A meeting at the Regency Town House with the curators of HOUSE Open, who are really excited about my piece – the larger of the two versions I made in Denmark. This is the first time they have had an artist make a piece especially for the exhibition, so I get the focal spot!

The PR machine has been whirring. Crafts magazine have confirmed that they are featuring Fantastic Tales, as is Ceramic Review. A long feature came out in arterritory.com and various local and national publications are doing features.

Nicki Lang, my filmmaker, is working on the promo. She is going to make two films, one to advertise The Ceramic House, showing off the best of past exhibitions, and in May she will film me discussing the evolution of The Ceramic House and document the Danish show.

So, now I am going to put my newsletter together, which has forcibly taken a back seat, but has to go out asap!


I’ve been back a week and no let up in the pace! It’s been even more of a whirlwind than being in Denmark was, well, what was I expecting? So no time to even blog this week.

After a 22 hour journey door to door, I got back to The Ceramic House and was confronted by the deliveries dominating the living room: 3 massive wooden crates. Unpacking the car quickly filled the whole room and the garage, which is where my 20 boxes of work still reside.

A new intern arrived the next morning and we got stuck straight into unpacking the boxes. Basically we had one day to get all the work out ready for the photo shoot, which was scheduled two days after I got back. The reason for such a tight turn-around was partly the photographer’s availability and partly the necessity to get the catalogue printed in time for the opening. It is important that the catalogue shows photographs of the artwork in situ, as The Ceramic House is the reason for putting the show on, and being an artwork in itself, the catalogue should be a true representation of the experience of being here. So I had to get all the artwork here a month in advance and ended up pretty much curating and hanging the show all in a day!

I did this partly because of space issues. 16 artists’ work needs to be accommodated safely and although it all got moved around during the shoot, I needed to have an idea of where things would go as I was unpacking them. So by the end of a long day, nearly everything was in its ‘first draft’ of positioning.

I was up until the early hours and from very early the next morning cleaning the house to make it worthy of being a photographer’s backdrop, which included filling several bags of ashes from the open fires we have been enjoying all winter, in preparation for the fireplace installation.

The next morning Sylvain Deleu, respected art photographer, arrived accompanied by Malene Hartmann Rasmussen, the only artist in the show who lives in the UK. We had a full day photographing two examples of every artist’s work all over the house and garden. Thankfully the weather was good, and we were able to make full use of the Ceramic Garden as a setting.

The next day was back in my studio, a bit of a change after the luxury of the Guldagergård studios, with my intern Evan. Evan approached me recently, interested in volunteering in a ceramic studio as he is changing his BA course from product design to ceramics and wants to gain some knowledge with the material, as he will have missed the first year. I taught him to press-mould tiles, my usual technique, for the bathroom I am trying to complete in time for the exhibition opening. I’ve done it in stages: one wall has been half tiled with beautiful blue and white antique tiles I brought back from Portugal, another with hand-cut flat white tiles, the bath panel with hand-decorated tiles mimicking corner details in the Portuguese tiles, and the only thing outstanding is the main wall above the bath, which will be covered with the new relief tiles we are now making. The designs for these are inspired by the architectural tiles that cover buildings all over Portugal.

Since then I have spent three days glued to the computer getting the flyers finalised and invites sent out for the opening on 1st May. Last night was the official Artists Open Houses launch party, so there was a mad rush to get the flyers printed in time to give them out. The Ceramic House topped the bill during the speeches, with much mention made of the Danish show and the house itself, which was very flattering!


I’ve just driven all night long crossing several countries and weather systems and now I’m on the ferry waiting to leave the sun-drenched port of the Hook of Holland.

It’s probably part delirium of no sleep after such a long haul, but it occurred to me I haven’t had a day off since leaving the UK five weeks ago. That’s what residencies are great for: work! I rarely left the studio before midnight anyway; that I love, because the studio is a skip, hop and a jump from the house, it’s warm and there’s usually someone else there beavering away, which all contributes to a great work ethic.

However this time was markedly different from last (summer, when I came here for a much more relaxed R&D residency), because I have had so many obligations to attend to on top of an already over ambitious ceramic project, given the time scale. Ceramics does take time – it’s not exactly a quick method of making work. But I pulled it off! I got everything done that I had to do. However it’s been hard work. I’m pleased with what I achieved but I’ve been surviving on 2-4 hours sleep every night.

I was just musing while driving and wondering how much longer I will keep this speed up? Maybe one day in the not too distant future, visitors will turn up at The Ceramic House door to find a sign that says The Ceramic Empress has changed her name back to Kay and has headed off in the direction of the sun (hopefully with a splendidly tiled surrounding), and maybe that’s where the next part of the Ceramic Empire will be! In other words, I’ll never give it up. It’s all part of trying to survive as an artist. The drive won’t just stop.