Light in the sky

Half past five in the evening and the clouds scud by. There’s still light in the sky but the rain showers keep pounding the windows. I love the newly washed look of the air. Almost sparkling. When I came here forty years ago there was far more heavy industry in the area. Smoke and dust polluted the air. A smog sometimes settled over the city and you could smell the fumes from the tyre factory or enamel being fired onto pottery if the wind was in the right direction. Now the wind is more a carrier of sound. The local A road and the motorway. The occasional sound of pile drivers when new buildings are erected, which is not very often. Sometimes smoke travels on the forlorn breeze as an old building accidentally burns down. So sad. So much bustle gone. We are a warehouse city of poorly paid jobs. No real chances. No ambition if the naysayers are believed. I think we can do better. Think creative, be creative. Let a bit of light shine on us. X

Willow pattern painting

I painted this a few years ago. It’s an octagonal platter shape. I used a few images of willow pattern plates and amalgamated them. It’s mostly based on a Spode style of pattern. The edge design was made up by myself. The painting is meant to look like the platter is leant up against a background. That’s why I added shadows and played with adding a reflection below it. I can’t remember what else I added to it. I did a series of paintings of ceramic objects, there was also a jug and a teapot and a large vase painting. It was good to imagine pottery from my adopted home of Stoke-on-Trent.

Potteries

Burslem, Tunstall, Hanley, Stoke-upon-Trent, Fenton, Longton.

Six towns United as one city. Stoke-on-Trent.

I remember seeing this print and taking a photo of it, but I cannot remember where it’s from. So apologies for using the image and if I’m infringing copyright let me know and I will remove it. I like the style of the illustration. It’s almost grecian in style. The Potter is throwing a pot on a foot treadled wheel. The background looks a bit like a Minton tile. I did Google it and found some very similar images.

Pottery is such a wonderful craft. The things you can make out of clay. From tableware to ceramic insulators. Sanitaryware (bathrooms) to delicate ornaments. The Potteries has a great history. It’s fame is world wide. I’m proud to live here.

Three years ago…

Walking around the world museum in Liverpool three years ago, I was so impressed by the travelling exhibition of the Chinese terracotta warriors. Obviously only a few if them were represented in the gallery, but it gave a strong example of the creative and military civilization behind these figures.

There were crowds at the gallery, people shuffled round and many of the exhibits were partially hidden by bodies that strangely mimicked the warriors remaining in China as they stand within the archaeological dig there, rows and columns lined up. Humans used to congregate. They group, they press against each other, travel together . That feeling of community has been lost to some degree because of Covid. Will they ever do the same again? Will we go forward in time to a freedom we do not enjoy now? I don’t know.

Story tiles

A view of St Austell in Cornwall that was at the BCB exhibition recently at Swift House, Stoke-on-Trent. With subtle tones of sepia colour it depicted a semi industrial landscape. I didn’t see a notice but I’m guessing it was made of China clay which has been quarried there for centuries. One of the sites was used to create the Eden Project, a set of giant domed greenhouses or ‘biomes’ which house tropical and arid environments from more equatorial climes.

St Austell is a town in Cornwall inland from the southern coast, in a landscape dotted with abandoned tin mines. It was once the home of a famous poet called Jack Clemo. He was blind but managed to write his poems while supported by his mother in the 1950’s?

Mugs and cups

How many mugs and cups have you got? I seem to have enough for a small orchestra!

I think there are a few more around the house and in the garden. I am not going to search them out. They are from various manufacturers. The majority from this city, Stoke-on-Trent.

Different styles and sizes. Some that I decorated (you can book workshops to paint your own mugs, some places are more expensive than others). The small cups are for tea or expresso coffee. But I prefer a madium sized mug, pint sized ones are too much for me.

The creativity of this city shows through the designs and shapes of the mugs and cups.

China cupboard

The ‘stuff’ you collect

The stuff in this ‘cup’board is mainly cups and egg cups. I’m pleased that some of them are ones we have decorated ourselves. Plus I found the Maggie egg cup I was looking for.

It’s amazing what clutter I’ve collected over the years.. I guess I can call it a cup collection…

Turn over club

The back stamp on the bottom of pottery can identify where it was made, it’s country of origin, and sometimes indicate what it’s worth, although sometimes people fake the marks to try and con people thinking a cheap teacup or vase is worth more, sometimes a lot more, than it actually is.

This happens in pottery manufacture across the globe. A Ming dynasty vase might have been made last week, a Delpht plate might have been made somewhere in Britain..

The thing is an inanimate lump of clay can be transformed into something delicately shaped and beautifully glazed or enamelled. People want to know it they are looking at a Clarice Cliff or a Susie Cooper. That’s part of the reason they look. But also if you live in a pottery manufacturing town you want to tell the difference between them. And the turn over can be enlightening!