Category Archives: Research

‘Great Pots Tell Stories’

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!?

'Ashley Howard' pot

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!

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