This weekend was the deadline for all the Korean work arriving; the private view is on 4th May, in 9 days’ time, and on Monday I have an installer booked in to hang the wall-based work. And where is the work? At customs!
Yesterday I spent the whole morning wrangling with border control trying to get the boxes cleared. I checked it out on the government website and it states quite clearly that if the work is for an exhibition, it does not attract any duty or customs charges. It seems the problem lies in how the work is labelled. As long as it labelled ‘temporary admissions’, customs will let it go through. So now we know! It’s all about the labelling. Some of the artists labelled the work ‘sample’, some ‘gift’ – some got through, most not. I already had 5 boxes delivered at the beginning of the week and had been wondering why there was such a lull. Then a clutch of customs charges arrived. Apparently, the worst-case scenario is that I have to pay VAT and claim it back. If they let me have it back! At least a minor triumph occurred yesterday when Wook Jae Maeng’s boxes arrived. Especially so as his is some of the wall-based stuff that needs to go up on Monday. Veronica’s shoes are stuck at customs though, one of the main pieces going on the gallery wall. Oh my. Definitely do not have time for this! So, everything has been delayed according to my schedule. All of this was compounded by the fact that my full-time studio assistant had a crisis last weekend and disappeared off the scene overnight! Hopefully she will return in May but all the plans I had for these last two crucial weeks have had to change drastically.
The main injury is to my own design process for the new Korea-inspired work that I am making for the Sladmore show and BCB (British Ceramics Biennial). By the time the show opens, I need to have those designs finished and ready to start making prototypes and of course this is no longer going to happen! Ceramics is such a laborious, time-consuming process that the making/drying/firing/glazing schedule is absolute and I’ve got it worked out to the day. The only way I can stick to the schedule is to simplify the designs. Rather than design the whole piece the way it will go on the wall, I can alter the process by designing the main components and then assembling them once they are made. Thinking back to last year, when I made my Shetland Flora roundels, one kiln overfired so badly that I had to redesign most of the work using the glazed pieces, discarding the original layout, and it actually led to some unexpected improvements. So that is the new plan!
I’ve had two journalists interviewing me at the house this week. Viva Brighton, a really good monthly local, are doing a feature in the May issue and Sussex Life are doing a 4-page feature for their At Home section. The photo-shoot was an experience! (very detailed). I am looking forward to seeing the photos. It’s brilliant as both will come out in time to advertise the exhibition. Crafts Magazine are also doing a piece for May along with my advert. So hopefully some of the press will draw crowds!
The Ceramic House has been undergoing a tiling frenzy for the last two weeks. All the new pieces I have been making in the studio are now installed and looking good! I can hardly believe that it went so well without any major hitches! Normally, when tiling bits of the house, I am running to the studio to remake and fire and giving hot tiles to the tilers to apply! Actually, this did happen with the In Camera Gallery tiles – the first glaze firing underfired and they had to be refired, but it all worked out in the end. I am proud to show off my new grand Asturian entranceway into the house – the tiles were originally designed for El Llanu, a casa de campo on the top of a hill in northern Spain. And four new floor pieces – the front mosaicked path, the Gallery terrace with tiny handmade tiles and the lower terrace and path. Oh, and three fireplace hearths as well as the In Camera Gallery sign. This is a minor miracle that the weather behaved, the tilers did not let me down and everything has been finished on time! Triumph!