I attended the Aberystwyth International Ceramic Festival on July 4th http://www.internationalceramicsfestival.org/ and had a thoroughly enjoyable and inspirational day.

The very first lecture that I attended was by Tip Toland, whose work I only recently became aware of thanks to a magazine cutting from Jackie. Tip’s lecture was not only informative, but inspiring and moving and after it I was able to talk to her briefly while she worked on an example for her demonstration. Each lecturing or demoing artist had a studio space where they either worked or showcased examples. Tip actually lives in Seattle. Later in the day she gave a demonstration of how she creates an armature, models the form and then hollows it. Very similar to the way Scott taught us last Fall.

She creates her huge pieces as solid ceramic blocks, then cuts them into sections, hollows them out, fires them and reassembles using epoxy glue. The final effects are achieved through paints and pastels. Some pieces are surprisingly large. Do check out her website: http://www.tiptoland.com/index.html Here is a photo montage of her demo – sorry about the quality, but I just used my iphone in poor light. She worked up the basic head in about 45 mins. Her armature was angled with the top section loosely attached, so that when she first chopped off the back of the head she was able to unscrew it and start hollowing.


Other artists whose work I saw either demoed, lectured or on show can be found at: http://www.internationalceramicsfestival.org/demonstrators/ It is hard to put across the general excitement and inspiration of the day as it was super busy from start to finish! I did enjoy a lot of the student work which can be found at the bottom of the demonstrator list. So do check out their websites.

In the general art gallery at the university there was also a very interesting show by the Welsh artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins which I greatly enjoyed. He is not an artist I’m familiar with, but have bought a fantastic book showcasing his work. Unfortunately the book doesn’t contain his latest work from this year, which I really enjoyed, so here are a few photos which they let me take. The reflections don’t help, but they do act as a reminded. I particularly liked the way the flowers transfer from the horse to the man – this theme he has explored over many years and relates to his father’s fear of a particular Welsh legend. His website: http://www.hicks-jenkins.com/ These images aren’t in the right order.




I feel as though this post can’t pu across visually my experience – it will just have to show up in my work of the next few years!

Yesterday I took the train up to Birmingham for a day workshop called ‘Constructing Crows’. It was held by Jo Naden at the RBSA Gallery on Brook Street in Birmingham. My first visit to Birmingham, and the walk from New Street Station reminded me a lot of London. Very lively and lovely big and varied architecture. I was rushing on the way to the workshop, and carrying a big box on the way back, so no chance to take photos.

The workshop was terrific – Jo Naden is an excellent teacher. We began with listening to crow calls, drawing our response and then drawing from the stuffed crow. We also examined the crow skeleton – beautiful. The drew 4 views of the crow.

From there we learned how to make a wire armature that had strong enough legs to support itself in a polystyrene base. We continued by rolling out slabs of paperclay, and applying them to the armature.  Then we started to model and add the paperclay to fill out the form. Just what I wanted to learn – armatures and paperclay. The partially finished crow survived the train journey in a cardboard box. I hope to work on this weekend after a visit with brother Dillon. Here are just a few photos of the event;

For other photos of my travels in the UK this summer please check out http://2015ukvisit.wordpress.com

Our current ceramic project is to create pots inspired by 1500BC Mediteranean vessels. The main point of the exercise is to throw separate pieces that are then joined together. Here are my first attempts. The first one didn’t turn out as planned but I managed to rescue it. I didn’t wait long enough for the bottom half of the bowl to be really dry before adding the top half. So it sagged. From this experience I learned patience and the second pot, which is more like a bird bath, went together with more ease and control. The third pot is my slow reproduction of the Jomon pot. Its getting there – I added about 3 inches on the bottom. You can see the original on the wall.


It is ridiculous the way in which spring has come early this year. Here are some of the flowers out right now:

Every year the Island Illustrators Society create an Alphabet – this year it was all about the City of Victoria. Our images are displayed throughout the year in the Greater Victoria Regional Libraries. My contribution was Q is for Queen Victoria: queen vicky finalYou could say she is not exactly amused…

An Adobe Photoshop illustration as I had to produce it at the last minute, and anyway how else could I have created all those diamonds!

So we are already in the last stages of February 2015. The year, like recent years, seems to be rushing by! However a moments reflection returns lots of memories, proving that time has been well packed with interesting events.

It is hard to believe that we just had week 7 of this semester’s ceramic course. This course is all about learning to use the wheel and although initially challenging, is proving to be one of the most enjoyable of creative experiences. I find it a relief to move away from flat planes and 2 dimensions into a world of forms – lovely round forms created on a rotating wheel. Who’d have thought it! Today I turned a 4.5 lb piece of clay into something that resembles a vase. This was the biggest piece of clay I’ve worked with and it was a pleasure. Our current assignment is to create a large vessel from separately thrown pieces in the style of Mediterranean ceramics dated 1500 BC. So I was practicing what it feels like to throw larger pots. Here are some of the forms that I’ve created since Christmas – just click on an image to open a larger view. The mugs and bowl have yet to be fired. Just learning, so everything is an experiment!

The weather

This must be one of the mildest winters ever and so there have been beautiful walks along the harbour. Here are just a few photos from the other morning and a couple from my brief stay in San Diego at the beginning of the month. That’s it for this week. next week is reading break up t the university, but there is a lot of homework to do…

Well almost – just one more class in which we each talk to our instructor to review our work. Here are some images of what I’ve produced this semester:

There are some other items that I’ve not photographed yet. Had a great time and am looking forward to learning how to use the wheel in January

this is my latest project – a self portrait in clay.

Sadly my aunty June passed away about 3-4 weeks ago and so I made a speedy and short trip over to the UK to attend the funeral. I am sorry that I wasn’t able to see everyone as it was such a short trip, but I hope to return in the spring.

The slide show is just a selection of photos from a few walks and the family at the funeral. The captions tell the story.

For the last 4 days I have taken my house apart and cleaned every nook and cranny and washed and heat dried every bit of bedding etc. The reason – fleas! They are in the grass outside and of course with 2 cats they brought them in. I am allergic to fleas… It also didn’t help that I found the remains of a mouse or rat nest in the back bedroom cupboard. They had eaten through the baseboard in 4 places. Strangely there was no smell…Everything has been bleached.

But I am sure we are flea free at last, but naturally I am feeling pooped. So this morning has been one of leisure, reading and drinking a nice espresso in the garden. Much to my delight a dragonfly was using the pond as a hunting territory and I was able to watch it as it searched for insects, hovered, darted, and generally did its dragonfly thing.

I had time to fetch my camera and to experiment with the manual focus, as the auto-focus couldn’t read the dragonfly – I think because the wings were moving so rapidly. In the end I focused on an object at about the average distance that the dragonfly was flying for most of the time. Amazingly I managed to get 4 photos that at least show the general structure from different angles. I could reconstruct the dragonfly if I needed to draw or paint it. I think it is a California Darner. My camera would need to be much more sophisticated to catch a moving dragonfly in sharp definition.

But I am including 2 dragonfly photos from a few years ago, so that you can see its markings more clearly. I am not sure of the green dragonfly, it might be a skimmer.


July 15 - Today was a creative day - 5 new ideas for book projects...

Bug finder

If you need to identify an insect, try the website: http://www.whatsthatbug.com/ They have a huge number of images and postings from people trying to identify insects.

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