Ten days have passed since the Fantastic Tales show ended and it already feels like weeks ago!
This year we had record-breaking numbers visiting The Ceramic House nearly every day we opened. The highest count was 264 in a single day! I am really pleased with how the whole thing went.
This was by far the most professional, accomplished show at The Ceramic House to date – the Arts Council funding made a world of difference. It meant I was able to afford such things as getting a catalogue designed and printed with excellent photography and professionally designed flyers and invites. It also allowed me to seek advice from mentors in the fields of business, coaching and curating, which has been invaluable. Also the standard of the artwork on display was top notch.Danish ceramics is thriving like never before and it shows!
There was a balanced mix of sculpture, tableware, wall pieces and installation. Each discipline was represented by artists working at the top of their game, with many notable highlights. A few examples include Christin Johansson’s meditative performance on the opening night and subsequent video installation, Mette Maya Gregersen’s wave sculptures, Malene Hartmann Rasmussen’s installation in the fireplace and Helle Hansen’s Dogma Ceramics designed to be made on a rocking boat. Oh and how could I not mention Heidi Hentze’s painstakingly thin works that look like fired silk? But everything merits attention so I’d better stop there. Look on the website to see the online catalogue and photographs of the work. www.theceramichouse.co.uk
I also broke a record this year with how quickly I got the house back to normal: within 5 days of closing the show! This was due to a team effort with my fantastic volunteers (mainly from the ceramics department at the university), who helped all through the festival. Involving Brighton University in the project was also a first with a great outcome. Not only did Christin Johansson and Karen Harsbo deliver captivating talks to the students, but several students then applied themselves to helping with preparation leading up to the opening and throughout the exhibition.
In the past, I have offered volunteering opportunities in the months leading up to May, usually to help me make the huge installations that adorn The Ceramic House everywhere you look. However, generally I have found that by the time May arrives the enthusiasm wanes and I don’t get the help when I need it most.
Nearly all Open Houses in Brighton rely on the exhibiting artists invigilating, but my model is different; it is like a professional ceramics gallery, and besides, invigilating is a practical impossibility if all the artists live abroad! So this year was a success also in terms of enthusing volunteers to get involved. They loved it and learnt a lot and everyone benefited!
By the following weekend the permanent collection was back on display, and I am thrilled that it has expanded significantly after the Danish show. I have bought several stunning pieces and others have been generously donated by some of the artists.
Getting the office back to normal after its annual transformation into The Tile Shop took several days. I no longer heft very heavy boxes of books around every time. I have learnt to keep most of my books permanently elsewhere in the house, as it was simply too much moving things back and forth every year. Well, heavy things, that is. The kitchen crockery and utensils always have to be moved to unfamiliar places for the duration of the show, and just as we get used to the new places, I move it all back again and leave us in a permanent state of confusion!
So now everything is back to normal and I am wrapping up the aftermath: accounts, evaluation and administration. I am also planning my return trip to Denmark in September. I am driving over with a lot of the exhibiting artists’ work and my installations that were on display in The Ceramic House and the Regency Town House, destined for their next outing at Ceramic Context 2014 in Bornholm in the autumn.