As children we would visit artists and artists would visit us; it was part of the ebb and flow of our lives. They rarely said they were artists because they mostly came as mothers and fathers and we played with their children. We weren’t encouraged to be the children of artists; we conspired, played and fought and created next to nothing. As a bunch of adults they talked art and creating things and how to make money; as mothers and fathers they were judged on the warmth of their hellos and the sadness of their goodbyes. Yet something always rubbed off, a feeling that being an artist was a bit mysterious and being children of artists a bit of a mystery.


In the 1960s, it is possible to avoid the presence of inquisitive child artists in the pub; no child, no matter how precocius, is allowed in the public bar. The older artist can hold forth on the tyranny of the art trade, the giving and taking of contracts and the price of paper; he can offer the cup of celebrity, name dropping with the consistency of the ash from his cigarette. Unbeknown to them all who come through the door are visiting the artist, who is playing a character from a mid 20th century book; How to Spot an Artist in a Pub. This tradition of visiting artists in pubs is long and distinguished; it is one the younger artist will become familiar with; often being regaled with the wit or withering of the night’s performance. The Colony Club, the bars of Montmartre, the Waterman’s Arms; in the corner the artist whittling his sharp pencil, scribbling your portrait, selling his wares in order to catch a sentence or a shadow for a sketch; modelling the ordinary into the extraordinary. One more for the road:

“and I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less travelled by,

And that has made all the difference”

(Robert Frost)


Where have all the potteries gone,long time passing

Given freshly fired and glazed presents is like being given delicious food.; or at least something to put it on. Visiting a potter always meant being given something lovely, even if it was a second. How would a child know anyway. Only later, on closer inspection, would the glaze not meet the edge or the wobble become a bit annoying. A painter or writer did not impart gifts, not ready, not worthy, cash only, no cheques. Potters are natural givers and understand the earthiness and messiness of children; give the child a plate and order is restored