Yesterday was just so crazy; I managed to do so much; I had to, as I am leaving today.
I opened two kilns to reveal the oxidised glaze firings; the majority of the work I have been making since I arrived. It’s all been too quick to contemplate the work I have made yet. I did manage to lay the pieces out, more or less in the formation it will be displayed. I thought I had made far more pieces than I needed, and I did, considering I have now got two exhibitions, rather than one, as originally planned.
I worked like an automaton making, producing, and turning out casts, but in the end I have exactly the right number to fit the plan I drew for the wall in The Ceramic House. The other piece is smaller, but that’s because it did not all fit in the firing. There were several pieces that didn’t survive firing and stuck to kiln shelves because the glaze ran, and in fact many pieces broke before being fired. One of the problems I have been trying to resolve whilst here is to make these long fragile pieces strong enough to survive. The main problem was getting them into the kiln without breaking. I experimented with many methods and found my technique, which was to get them on to a kiln shelf straight from the mould, practically, and not touch it thereafter. Some pieces broke even while I was glazing them. So fundamentally I am attempting to do an extremely difficult thing by designing them like this! Multi-layered, with weaknesses where the thinnest or narrowest parts are.
But the results are gorgeous. I am pleased, especially, with the soda firing. That was a revelation. I never thought I would do wood firing, preferring bright colours, but maybe I’m changing. The colours are a rich, more limited range of reds, yellows and browns. I love them. I think I am a convert! I do like high-firing, i.e. using stoneware glazes, rather than earthenware glazes, that are flatter and sit on the clay surface. Stoneware colours are earthy, more muted, and provide the texture I love; mottled surfaces, variable glazes; exactly what happens in soda firing.
Then after laying them out, I spent the rest of the day (6 hours), packing my work into 20 boxes. I finished that around 11pm, then moved into my room and packed up the remainder of my things, which took me until about 1am, when I started sorting through all the boxes of artists’ work I am taking back to Brighton. I managed to condense 20 boxes into 15, which took me through until 3am. And now I have to get up and start packing the car.
But here I am on the computer! The song of our times; fitting in a lot, and then more, and then all those other things on top that are demanding, screaming for attention. Throughout all of yesterday I was writing and responding to emergency emails about the exhibition, things that could not wait, such as the journalist who has asked some very in depth questions about the Danish ceramics scene and has to have the info by today (Friday), involving chasing up the writer I have contracted to write the essay for the catalogue, from whom there has been a resounding silence since agreeing to the job. But she responded! One off the list. Then the liaison between myself and my graphic designer and the PV invite, which I have not had a minute to send out yet. Just as well, as I’ve changed the design. And as for social media…!
Moral of the story: do not attempt to do a residency and make a huge amount of new work while organising a fairly big exhibition simultaneously!
The big worry now is getting insurance for the trip, as not all the artists have given me the value of their goods. So I have been waiting, and now leaving, with no insurance in place. But good old Hencilla Canworth will be able to sort me out I’m sure; I’ve done it before; it’s just those d**n unreliable artists keeping me waiting!