In the play we are doing this weekend my partner has to pretend to throw a pot on a wheel. We don’t want anything big, heavy or breakable, so I’m Papier-macheing a black plastic flowerpot. I had to buy some pva glue but only wanted just enough, not a great big tub or a tiny bottle. So instead of the adult craft section I found a bottle of clear pva in the children’s section at a craft shop.
Got home and started ripping up newspaper. This is many layers later, I’ve added a few layers about two thirds up to give it a slight bulge. When it’s dry I will paint it white as a base coat then a pale brown “clay” colour with shading to make it look hand thrown. I’m hoping it will look reasonably realistic.
I just found this sketch of International Women’s Day from about a year ago. I had a stall with art for sale at Burslem school of Art. I think this was the first time I ever drew the main gallery and I also tried to draw the banner that was on display there.
The school of art is very crooked. Burslem is old and suffers from subsidence or is undermined by coal mines. The whole of the city is built on clay and coal and the coal field under the city has caused a lot of damage over the years. Parts of the city also have geologic faults running underneath them so it’s not surprising that the buildings are affected.
There is also a volcanic plug where I live, the very base of an ancient volcano that was worn away by erosion over thousands or millions of years. The hill that is left dominates the valley of the river Trent, but the ground rises in other places too. There are coal tips (slag heaps) where the spoil from the collieries was dumped as the coal was hewn from the ground.
The wonder of Pottery and artistic design was the result of the geology in Staffordshire.
No not the trade marked version. But old windows at Spode. Dusty and dirty and empty of footsteps, no faces staring out of them, no lights behind them, no shapes of pottery stacked. Life is quiet for the factory, silent. The place is shunned, surplus to requirements. How can it still exist?
Time passes, new movement as people take up spaces. Shift of light, shift of direction. Art and theater, people sleep on site now in the hotel. The chance to regenerate like a time lord. The site has age and power behind it. The ghosts look on, seeing the lights, wondering what will happen next. Will they be evicted from the deep soft clay dust that coats their footprints and hides their breath.
Short notice I know….Its a steaming weekend with tours round the Etruria Industrial museum. The steam engine for Jessie Shirleys bone and flint mill will be fired up and the forge will be open further along the Trent and Mersy canal where it joins with the Cauldon canal. Also I think there will be organ grinders there. The exhibition will be in the warehouse and hands on pottery is also on, run by Etruria Artists. The canal warehouse is by lock 40 on the trent and mersey. The weekend coincides with the opening of weeping window just down the canal at Middleport, this consists of thousands of poppies made out of clay and painted red. They are displayed pouring down the outside of the bottle oven at the Middleport pottery in Burslem.
The Flint mill is over the canal from Kilndown close, Etruria, stoke-on-Trent… Come and see us if you can!