Went to ‘Ritual and Setting – Great Pots Tell Stories’ talk by Ashley Howard hosted by the Farnham Arts Trust. The evening weather was awful and I was in two minds whether to go…talks and lectures – aren’t they for other generations? Anyway, decided to be brave and headed out. The first test was to get inside the church hall (not quite what I imagined), after loitering around outside for 5 minutes (looking suspicious)…..we talked ourselves in to ringing the door bell. We were warmly welcomed, although I did get the impression they were surprised to see us! Things started to look up when we were offered a glass of red wine and I saw a couple of fellow West Street Potters.
Thoroughly inspired by Ashley’s talk and very pleased I put aside my preconceptions to attend. Running though his pottery conquests, experiments, thought processes and achievements, I admired his enthusiasm, integrity and passion for ceramics and teaching. He went on to explain the background, inspiration and physical process of his recent exhibition in Winchester Cathedral, which I really wish I had seen.
He also raised important issues such as the loss of technique and skill in craftsmanship. For example, ceramics courses these days no longer teach students to throw a ‘perfect’ teapot, a historical pottery benchmark of skill and good practice.
I love the forms of Ashley’s work, but in particular, he makes great glazes, which, when I am about to embark on glaze experimentation myself is something to aim for. Kathy keeps bringing this pot of Ashley’s into class on Thursday…to tease me I think. It is made of the chunky black clay, but has a voluptuous, volcanic white glaze. Trying to make a white glaze that will stay white on the black clay when fired is a project. Maybe, now I have been to his talk, I could simply ask him how he did it….or is that cheating!?
I am new fan of lectures and talks…….if not only for the question and answer session at the end. I got the giggles! “So tell me, what do you think of Clarise Cliff” has to be a classic. And if that doesn’t make it worthwhile venturing out on a cold and wet evening to sit in a church hall….there is always the complimentary wine!