Crazy days. The journey to Bornholm took 50 hours exactly: 700 miles and 3 ferries. Not the easiest place to get to! But I managed to stop over in Amsterdam for a night, which was beautiful as ever, especially with the sun shining down on the canals and the wonky houses leaning towards each other.

Anyway after a long old haul I arrived on this lovely island in the middle of the Baltic. Ever since I lived in Copenhagen in 1997, I have been hearing about Bornholm. Danes always get that wistful look when they talk about this island, describing it as a very special place. So far I haven’t managed to see more than driving from where I am staying to where I am putting up my installation. I will be able to, but not until after this weekend, when my opening and the Ceramic Context Biennial openings are over.

It took me a day to recover, meaning I have only 1.5 days to get my installation on the wall. One day down, half to go and more than half the piece to still put up. The problem with this installation is, I am not using the same method I have always used in the past, which was to apply the ceramics to wood and hang the board. This is because I cannot hang heavy things from the wall in the library. 

The library itself is a rather sleek and stylish white brick modernist building, apparently modelled on the wonderful Louisiana gallery of modern art up the coast from Copenhagen. This library, like Louisiana, has vast expanses of glass walls facing on to green landscapes and long white walls, one of which is my site. At first glance, it looks like a fabulous space to hang art on. Half way through putting it up, I am wondering if the very obvious and regular grout lines may dominate and detract from my piece somewhat. Such is the problem of not being around to take time and get to know the space and design something for it. I have the work already, but I am essentially designing a new piece for this space, and it’s not easy in such a short time. Also it has not been easy getting the work on to the wall, and making sure that it is removable and will stay up for a month. I tried to research this, but it was impossible not having the wall in front of me to see how my pieces would react to it.

The first stage in designing this new piece was to decide on the shape. The wall is about 10 metres long, which gives me the flexibility to make a very long, sparser design, with the pieces spread out more than before in versions I and III. This time I have all the pieces from Botanical Structures II (the oxidized version) and III (the soda wood fired version); a huge number of pieces and a vast array of colours. I thought long and hard about which colours to keep in and which to reject, namely those that jumped out and caught the eye too much (in this case the bright greens and blues). So the whole piece is harmonious, I have to keep the palette sympathetic to the more earthy wood fired glazes, which are more understated. I like texture, so many of the glazes I have developed for the electric kiln (oxidization) are similar in depth and tone to the wood fired glazes anyway and work well together.

Anyway it’s looking good so far. Fingers crossed everything will be ready for 4pm tomorrow!


I’m departing in a few hours for the final leg of my Danish-British ceramics project.
Since the Fantastic Tales show at The Ceramic House and the exhibition at the Regency Townhouse ended in May, I’ve spent the summer working on private and public commissions and preparing for this next and final stage in the Danish project.

I am putting a new installation together for the Danish ceramic and glass biennial, European Ceramic Context 2014, on the island of Bornholm, home of Danish pottery.

I am taking the work that I produced in residence this spring at Guldagergård International Ceramic Research Centre back to Denmark to show it in a new formation at Rønne library.

In May, in Brighton, I exhibited two versions of a wall based installation using the same moulds called Botanical Structures II (oxidised firing in an electric kiln using glazes I developed in residence at Guldagergård the previous summer, when indeed I designed the concept and produced the moulds for the piece) and III (a soda wood fired version, an experience that was a chance encounter with astonishing and captivating results). All the component parts of these two wall pieces have been boxed up and I will combine them in a new large wall piece called Botanical Structures IV. I still do not know how the piece will look. I am waiting to see what the space looks and feels like and will respond to the site once I can see the scale of the wall and I have all the pieces – hundreds of them – laid out in front of me.

I have also been casting more of these structures in preparation for another soda wood firing while I am in Denmark. I have used 50 litres of porcelain slip and have boxes of bisque fired ware ready to glaze. The glazes I used in the last soda firing are at Guldagergård, so I decided to make the most of being in Denmark to stock up on more soda wood fired pieces, as I can’t just fire a wood kiln like I can an electric kiln back in my studio.

The car is packed and ready to go with about 20 boxes of glazed and unglazed botanical structures and many boxes of Danish artists’ work left over from the Fantastic Tales show, finally to be returned to them.

So I now have a 50 hour journey ahead of me, involving many hundreds of miles and three ferries. Departing at 5am.


New feature in the Ceramic Garden

It’s taken two years to complete this particular feature in the garden at The Ceramic House. And the detail tiles are much older, dating back to 2005 when I was commissioned to make artworks for three courtyards in Blackberry Hill Hospital in Bristol. For that public art commission, I collaborated with a lighting artist who installed lighting into my ceramic pieces.

This section of the garden was a dead space leading from the side street to the garage when I moved into the house in 2008. There was a fence blocking it off from the garden. Since then I have reclaimed it and turned it into the breakfast terrace, because it catches the morning sun. I redesigned and tiled the floor and completed the bench in time for the May 2012 exhibition.

The bench is faced with reject ceramic tiles made for the water feature in the café courtyard of Blackberry Hill Hospital. I spent many months slowly making these pieces, allowing them to dry over a curved form to be eventually applied on to the concrete cast, only to have my worst ever kiln disaster when I discovered that they had all slumped flat in the kiln! Needless to say I did manage to remake them in a few short weeks in time for the grand opening of the hospital, but not without a lot of stress! So I kept the rejects until I found this new use for them. Above the bench is a row of tiles left over from another courtyard in the hospital. The original feature consisted of a continuous row of these tiles at eye level that spanned four walls of the courtyard. At dusk, blue LEDs came on, glowing from inside each hole in the tiles, a beautiful, calming effect.

After this was completed in 2012, I discovered I had more of these tiles left over, and when I laid them all out, found that there were exactly the right number to tile another row across the wall – similarly the tiles for the bench were exactly the right number for the space – serendipity!

So I made, with the help of volunteers in my studio, a huge quantity of turquoise tiles and decided to cover the wall with these and finish it off with the second two of tiles with LEDs inside.  It was completed it just in time to make the most of the spectacular summer weather and sit outside at night with the lights glowing out of the wall.


Finally the Portuguese bathroom at The Ceramic House is finished and in use! It’s the final room inside The Ceramic House that had never been touched since I moved in 6 years ago.

The inspiration came when I went on my first visit to Portugal in 2012 and discovered that the whole country is covered in tiles! (Well the buildings anyway.) So started my fascination with Portugal and the blue and white Portuguese tile collection.

It took 3 (working!) holidays in a row over 3 years to bring back enough tiles from flea markets to tile one wall of the bathroom. The other feature wall consists of 160 press-moulded tiles, which were inspired by the designs of the tiles on the facades of Portuguese buildings. The third wall is simply flat hand made white tiles.