Category Archives: Sculpture

Arc in the Park.


I’ve been helping out on a project for the past six weeks or so. It’s a collaboration between Arc and The Whitworth Art Gallery.

The project was called ‘A Love Letter to Whitworth Park’ and was facilitated by an extremely talented artist by the name of Wendy Hunter and project managed by Annette from Arc.

For four weeks, the aim was to engage older people with the nature of the park and the art of the gallery. (At least, that was my take on it.) Then, via the mediums of painting, printing, collage, photography, cups of tea, poetry and prose; participants expressed their ‘love’ for the park in a variety of techniques.

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The project culminated in an exhibition in the gardens of The Whitworth Art Gallery in Arc’s very own Geodome! (Which is a bugger to put up, believe me.) Thousands upon thousands came to view… okay, maybe not thousands. But there were loads. Certainly more than you could count on an abacus.

It was a beautiful, sunny day and lots of kids came along to colour in bird stencils and stick them on the tree Wendy and the participants made. They also did a nice job of polishing off all the cupcakes. (Maybe that was just my kids.)

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Anyhoo, onwards and upwards – don’t forget it’s the Saturday Art Club at Arc this Saturday 29th July. 11am – 4pm. Free parking. Great for families/kids.

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Other shout-outs and credits go to: Daisy and Francine from The Whitworth Art Gallery; Ruth from The University of Manchester; Annette and Jacqui from Arc, and last, but not least, The A-Team: Becky, Kath, Mark and Tim. (Oh, and Becky’s Mam and Dad for the sarnies and help packing up.)

 

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Things for which I am grateful #365/365.


Some folks might think this is a bit of a cheat. I started with my kids and I’m going to finish with them. In my defence, I have two of the little rascals so I’m counting it as one post apiece.

There is nothing more precious to me on this Earth than my two daughters. Anyone who has children will know that something changes inside of you – chemically, biologically – and nothing else seems to matter.

Of course, this doesn’t apply to every parent, and true, the pesky varmints do get on your nerves a lot of the time. And yes, they bicker constantly. And they manage to talk in a stream of consciousness James Joyce would be proud of. But, when all’s said and done, they don’t outweigh all the adorable moments. I simply couldn’t live without them.

It’s been an epic year of blogging. Thank you for sticking by me and I wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year!

Right, I’m going for a lie down.

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Here are my 365 things that I am grateful for:

1 My daughters

2 Water

3 Poetry

4 Baths

5-7 Notebooks, pens, pencils

8,9 Butterflies and moths

10, 11 Softball and baseball

12 Fresh coffee

13 Sound / masts

14 Indoor toilets

15 Stepping Hill Hospital

16 Birds of Paradise

17 Roget’s thesaurus

18 Mother Earth

19 Clingfilm dispenser

20, 21 Yorkshire pudding and onion gravy

22 Jorge Luis Borges

23 Classic cars

24 Curry

25 Tim Berners Lee

26 Charles Bukowski

27 Yorkshire

28 Shiraz

29 Food

30 Katell Keineg

31 Tao Te Ching

32 A roof over my head

33 Peat fires

34 Street art

35 Friends (as in – mates, not the T.V. show)

36 Wilfred Owen

37 The Penguin Café Orchestra

38 The fry-up

39 Wolves

40 W.B. Yeats

41, 42 Cherry blossom trees and haiku poetry

43 Bread

44 Boules

45 Maps

46 Refuse collectors

47 Candy Chang

48 Sparrows

49 The tomato

50 Studio Ghibli

51 Oliver Jeffers

52 Johannes Gutenberg

53 Tom Waites

54 The cello

55 Mothers’ day

56 The Phoenicians

57, 58 Bacon and brown sauce

59 Tulips

60 Fish and chips

61 Giselle

62 Airfix

63 Firefighters

64 Rain

65 Libraries

66 Raymond Carver

67 Toulouse-Lautrec

68 The Goldfinch

69 Wings of Desire

70 Silence

71 Elizabeth Barrett Browning

72-99 Ireland

100 Talking Heads

101 Sylvia Plath

102 Yorkshire Sculpture Park

103 My mum

104 Modigliani

105 Kurt Vonnegut

106-128 Electricity

129 The pop man

130-147 Comedians/comedy

148 Commando magazine

149 Pastry

150-156 Social media

157 David Bowie

158 Football

159 D-Day

160-194 France

195-230 Novels

231 Graphic Design

232 Viva! Roxy Music

233 – 274 Art

275 Betty Blue

276 Writing

277 Joy Division

278 – 287 Scotland

288 – 324 Italy

325 – 352 Photography

353 Leeds Utd

354 Love

355 Universe

356 Advertising

357 Pan’s Labyrinth

358 – 363 Democracy

364 Miscellaneous

365 My daughters II

If anyone wants to read any of the previous posts simply type the title into the search box on the right. (It’s underneath the ‘topic’ cloud.)

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Things for which I am grateful #364 – Miscellaneous.


When I first started doing Things for which I am grateful, one for each day of 2014, I wasn’t sure if I’d make it. Now, on the penultimate post, I have far too many. So rather than pick just one I’m going to give you a miscellaneous list of all the ones that didn’t make it – but could have quite easily. (Lucky you.)

The point I’m trying to make is that we are very lucky in the ‘west’. And, even though I gripe on about our Tory overlords, I feel very fortunate to live in England.

The sun. (The big orange ball of fire, not the newspaper.)

England. (So much history, beautiful scenery and towns.)

History. (I love history.)

Wind turbines. (I think they’re cool.)

Thai food.

Chinese food.

The industrial revolution.

The sea. (I love the sea. And would love to live by it once again.)

Manchester.

Leeds.

The Romans.

The Greeks.

South Africa.

Elvis Presley.

Schools.

Public transport.

Sri Lanka.

Australia.

Bali.

Hinduism.

Buddhism.

Taoism.

New Zealand.

Optometry. (I wouldn’t be able to see without my glasses.)

My ex-wife for having our children.

Evolution.

Monkeys. (I do love a monkey.)

My neighbours.

Garlic.

Penny sweet tray.

The Peak District.

Typography.

Architecture.

Sci-fi.

The dictionary.

Drawing.

Farmers.

Butchers.

Fishermen.

America.

Uilleann pipes.

Sub-atomic particles. (Where would we be without these little jaspers? Nowhere, that’s where.)

Martin Luther King Jr.

The BBC. (Kiddy-fiddlers aside, they’ve done some great stuff.)

The Guardian.

Snow.

Erik Satie.

The emergency services. (Police, fire, paramedics.)

So, as you can see, plenty for me to be grateful for. But the point is, not what I am grateful for – what do you have to be thankful for in your life?

Wonder what’s in store for the last one?

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Bella Italia! – Things for which I am grateful #288 – 324


Bella Italia288!

Trevi Fountain, Rome.

Trevi Fountain, Rome.

I once sold books in Italy.

It was, what people commonly refer to, as a ‘character building’ experience.

Which is another way of saying – it was a crock of shit.

The job, that is, not Italy.

I love Italy.

If you haven’t been to Rome289, you must try to if you possibly can. (Not as easy for some readers as it is for others.) Not only is it one of the most stunning cities on the planet, (and I’ve been to at least three), it is also the birthplace of that famous empire spanning five centuries.

The Forum, Rome.

The Forum, Rome.

Wherever you turn you are confronted by an ancient monument or building, some dating back a couple of millennia, such as the Pantheon290, the Colosseum291 the Palatine292 and the Trevi Fountain293.

The Pantheon, Rome.

The Pantheon, Rome.

Obviously, there’s The Vatican294 too, which is well worth a visit, even if you’re not a cat lick. I’m not at all religious and my eyes didn’t start burning at the sight of St. Paul’s295.

The view of St. Paul's through a keyhole which I've peeped through!

The view of St. Paul’s through a keyhole which I’ve peeped through!

I’ve never ventured further south than the Amalfi296 coast, (south of Naples297). There are spectacular cliff-top towns such as Sorrento298, Positano299 and Amalfi itself. Nearby is the wondrous relic of Pompeii300 which takes you back in time to when Mount Vesuvius301 erupted and preserved many buildings, artefacts and people! Then there’s the gorgeous island of Capri302 just a short boat ride away.

Pompeii.

Pompeii.

Walked up those steps. Amalfi.

Walked up those steps. Amalfi.

Positano, Amalfi coast.

Positano, Amalfi coast.

The island of Capri.

The island of Capri.

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North of Rome, you have Florence303, Pisa304 and the Apennines305, (which our Pennine range is named after). On the west coast there are the marble producing towns of Carrera306 and Massa307 where the river runs white from the quarries in the mountains. And the sophisticated tourist spot of Viareggio308 on the coast.

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And who could forget Venice309 in the north east? Seat of the once-mighty Borgias. A stupendous sinking city amidst an intricate maze of canals. In summer, the weather is to die for. Seriously, it is. I once got sunstroke in Lido de Jesolo310, so pack plenty of factor 50 if you’re a pale-blue-skinned Anglo Saxon, like me.

Venice carnival.

Venice carnival.

Venice.

Venice.

Then there’s the food. Obviously, pizza and pasta are top of mind. But spare a though for the taste bud tingling chicken cacciatore311 or bistecca pizzaiola312. You can’t beat a bowl of Penne Picante313 or a simple pepperoni and anchovy pizza314 in a traditional trattorria315. All washed down with your favourite tipple – in my case, (case being the optimum word), of Barolo316.

Does it have tomatoes in it? I'll have it. Pollo alla cacciatore.

Does it have tomatoes in it? I’ll have it. Pollo alla cacciatore.

Food of the gods.

Food of the gods.

Spaghetti vongole.

Spaghetti vongole.

Let us not forget the pioneering artists: Leonardo da Vinci317, Michelangelo318, Raphael319, Giotto320, Botticelli321, Titian322, Donatello323, Caravaggio324 and my old favourite – Modigliani. You can hardly turn a corner without bumping into a masterpiece.

Anatomical studies by Leonardo da Vinci.

Anatomical studies by Leonardo da Vinci.

Michelangelo's 'David'. (Detail.)

Michelangelo’s ‘David’. (Detail.)

Nice. Caravaggio.

Nice. Caravaggio.

If you like art, you’ll love Italy. If you like ancient architecture, you’ll love Italy. If you like history, you’ll love Italy. Most of all, if you like pizza, you’ll love Italy.

And yes, I can speak Italian. But only if you want to talk about books. (Specifically, encyclopaedias.)

Of course, there are many Italian delights that I have yet to discover. Maybe after I’ve sold my first million copies. Speaking of which, check out this piccolo classico…

LOVE-IS-BLOOD-COVER copy

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Love-is-Blood-ebook/dp/B00FSTI5K0/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1381575505&sr=1-1&keywords=Love+is+Blood

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Things for which I am grateful #233 – 274 – Art.


As you’ve probably gathered, the arts are a huge part of my life. And this is my mantra:

 

Without the arts,

We have no culture.

Without culture,

We have no society.

Without society,

We have no civilisation.

And without civilisation,

We have anarchy.

 

Which, in itself, is paradoxical, because so many artists are viewed as rebels to society. To me, artists aren’t rebels, they are pioneers. They show us new ways of interpreting the world.

Art galleries are my cathedrals. They are the places I go to escape from reality and immerse myself in the presence of their genius.

Here are a few of my favourite artists. (I haven’t included ones that I’ve already written individual posts about, such as Modigliani, Chang or Lautrec.)

As you can see, I’m quite traditional in a lot of respects. What I love about much of the impressionistic work is the space, light, colour, composition and texture. Quite a lot of them have a simple, graphic quality, too. Which, perhaps, is no surprise considering that that is what I studied at art college.

Some famous names missing. Who are your favourites?

Michael McGinn

Michael McGinn

Aaron Smith

Aaron Smith

Yup, Banksy.

Yup, Banksy.

Edouard Vuillard

Edouard Vuillard

Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo

Gaugin

Gaugin

Igor Shipilin

Igor Shipilin

John Singer Sargent

John Singer Sargent

Kees van Dongen

Kees van Dongen

Kris Kuksi 1

Kris Kuksi 1

Kris Kuksi 2

Kris Kuksi 2

Manet

Manet

Mary Cassatt

Mary Cassatt

Matisse

Matisse

Yes, Monet.

Yes, Monet.

Grayson Perry

Grayson Perry

Picasso 1

Picasso 1

Picasso 2

Picasso 2

Pierre et Gilles

Pierre et Gilles

Renoir

Renoir

Sergey Rimashevsky

Sergey Rimashevsky

Sorolla

Sorolla

The chapman bros

The chapman brothers 1

The Chapman Brothers 2

The Chapman Brothers 2

Van Gogh

Van Gogh

Vermeer

Vermeer

Degas

Degas

Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon

Egon Schielle

Egon Schielle

Gustave Klimt

Gustave Klimt

Pierre Bonnard

Pierre Bonnard

Antonio Canova

Antonio Canova

Paul Cézanne

Paul Cézanne

William Merritt Chase

William Merritt Chase

Salvador Dali

Salvador Dali

Richard Estes

Richard Estes

Edward Hopper

Edward Hopper

Norman Rockwell

Norman Rockwell

Jan van Eyck

Jan van Eyck

Foujita

Foujita

Wilhelm Hammershøi

Wilhelm Hammershøi

Frederick Childe Hassam

Frederick Childe Hassam

Peder Severin Krøyer

Peder Severin Krøyer

Berthe Morisot

Berthe Morisot

Camille Pissarro

Camille Pissarro

 

By the way, if any late-comers are wondering what the hell all the numbers are about in the titles of these posts, the reason is: I decided, at the back end of 2013, to write 365 things for which I am grateful – one for every day of the year.

Why? Because, I think a lot of us in the ‘West’, (including me), sometimes forget how lucky we are and take too many things for granted. Which people in other parts of the world would die for, and do so, on a regular basis.

 

 

 

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#102/365 – Yorkshire Sculpture Park


David Nash

I love the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I’ve been many times now with my family and although my kids may not appreciate the subtleties of modern art, they do love a good run around and a clamber over seemingly randomly placed rocks.

There are permanent works by Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Antony Gormley, Andy Goldsworthy and Sophie Ryder amongst others.

Elisabeth Frink

Elisabeth Frink

 

people dressed as ants for some reason...

People dressed as ants for some reason…

 

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Andy Goldsworthy

Andy Goldsworthy

 

Antony Gormley

Antony Gormley

 

Niki de Saint Phalle

Niki de Saint Phalle

 

Peter Liversidge

Peter Liversidge

David Nash

YSP is a pretty unique place. Set in vast grounds, (if you want acreage you can look on their website), it’s just as much fun going for a stroll around the park, worrying sheep and enjoying a picnic as it is perusing the indoor galleries.

It’s free in, but parking’s £7.50 for the day, £5 for two hours or £2.50 for one hour. They have a cracking gift shop full of all manner of unique and quirky crafty things and the restaurant serves fantastic food, though the prices are a tiny bit steep for my liking. (Well, I am a Yorkshireman, after all.)

It’s somewhere between Wakefield and Barnsley in south, West Yorkshire and north, South Yorkshire. Er… I’d Google map it if I were you. We go over from sunny Stocky which is a lovely jaunt over the Woodhead Pass, then up the M1 for a junction, and Bob’s your uncle.

I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone. If you like art, you’ll love it. If you like nature, you’ll love it. If you like great food, you’ll love it. If you want to buy an original gift, you’ll love it. If you’ve got kids, they’ll love it. If you like oxygen, you’ll love it.

Very unworried sheep

Sophie Ryder. (The sculpture, not my daughter.)

Barbara Hepworth

Henry Moore

Henry Moore?

Sophie Ryder

Sophie Ryder

David Nash

David Nash

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Perfection


To achieve perfection takes trial and error.

If others are involved in your task, they may see your experimentation as indecision.

Ignore that gnawing urge to placate them for an easier life, and press on with your goal.

Only then, will you hope to attain something that you can be 85 – 90% satisfied with.

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Modigliani – In Memoriam


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Amedeo Clemente Modigliani
Born 12th July 1884 – Died 24th January 1920

I know I’m a few days late with this, but seeing as though Amedeo Modigliani is one of my favourite artists, I thought better late than never.

Tragically, Modigliani died of tubercular meningitis on the 24th January 1920, aged just 35.

What is equally as tragic is that his wife, and muse, Jeanne Hébuterne, was so devastated that the following day she threw herself from the 5th floor of her parents’ home, killing herself and her unborn second child.

Fortunately, their first child, Jeanne Modigliani (1918 – 1984), was adopted by Amedeo’s sister and was brought up in Florence, Italy.

Jeanne Hébuterne

Jeanne Hébuterne

Jeanne Modigliani, daughter.

Jeanne Modigliani, daughter.

I was first introduced to Modigliani’s work by my mate, Markham, who very kindly gave me a sumptuously framed print of this piece…

Seated Nude

Seated Nude

As you can see, Modigliani was very heavily influenced by African masks and sculpture, creating elongated forms and mask-like faces.

He died a pauper. But, as is the way of the world, in 2010 “La belle Romaine” sold for $69 million.

His work inspired me to write a short story, and subsequent screenplay, entitled: “Jeanne, reclining nude, 1917”, about a First World War veteran recuperating in the South of France after losing his left hand.

It isn’t a biographical piece, but moreover, explores the themes of physical and emotional cripples when he begins a relationship with his prostitute model.

Jeanne Hébuterene

Jeanne Hébuterene

Lunia Czechovska

Lunia Czechovska

Leopold Zborowski II

Leopold Zborowski II

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Reclining Nude

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He was an extremely prolific artist, so if you get the chance to see any of his work in the flesh, I urge you to do so.

The world lost an undefinable prodigy 93 years ago.

RIP Amedeo Clemente Modigliani.

Jeanne Hébuterne

Jeanne Hébuterne

Reclining Nude with Loose Hair

Reclining Nude with Loose Hair

Reclining-Nude,-Head-Resting-on-Right-Arm

Recumbent-act-with-arms-crossed-behind-the-head

Recumbent-Nude

Sleeping-Nude-With-Arms-Open---Red-Nude-large

 

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The Boating Party – with Tone von Krogh


Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1881. By Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

The Boating Party is a series of interviews with writers, artists, photographers, filmmakers, musicians, sculptors, designers and the like.

In times of economic hardship the Arts are usually the first things to be axed. But, in my view, the Arts are the most important aspect of our civilisation. Without the arts, we wouldn’t have language or the written word. Without the arts, we have no culture. Without culture, we have no society. Without society, we have no civilisation. And without civilisation, we have anarchy. Which, in itself, is paradoxical, because so many people view artists as rebels to society.

To me, artists aren’t rebels, they are pioneers.

And perhaps, most importantly; without the Arts, where’s the creativity that will solve the world’s problems? Including economic and scientific ones?

This week, I’m delighted to welcome ceramic artist, Tone von Krogh.

Tone on the wheel

What’s your greatest personal or career achievement?

In some ways I feel I’ve not reached the point of my journey where I’m counting my achievements. However,  being able to do what I love on a daily basis is my highest achievement as much as work in constant progress.

What’s been your greatest sacrifice?

I don’t think I have made many sacrifices. I moved to a new country to follow my love for ceramics and dream to take it further. I found another love which meant I settled here. At times it is hard to live far away from close family, but I have my own little one now…

When baby number two came along, I put the ceramics a side for a for a while. It felt like a hard decision to make at the time, but we were starting a build a total house renovation, so something had to give. When, after 3 years, the girls were both at school and I could move into my brand new garden studio, it felt like I had never left my business. I wouldn’t have missed those years with my girls for anything in the world.

To whom do you owe a debt of gratitude?

I’m sure there will be many more than I remember to mention here.

One of many, is my tutor at college in Norway, Peer Bjarne Moen for encouraging me to be me and express it in my work. I would not have followed my dream so confidently without his faith and push.

My family and friends for  their continuous support, encouragement, patience and help.

Fellow designers and artists for networking, inspiration and critique. And, of course, to all the galleries who promote my work.

Who and what inspire you?

The material clay itself really inspires me. The softness, its ability to take whichever shape you squeeze it into as well as the transformation from clay to ceramics.

I have always had a strong love for Scandinavian – and particularly Norwegian – woodlands and coastal landscapes. My current collection “Vinter” is directly inspired, as the name suggests, by winter and snow covered landscapes. The shapes are soft with indentations and bulges added to hint at something under the surface. After a heavy snow fall, all sounds are muted and objects become unrecognizable with sharp edges rounded. In a landscape, a bulge in the snow may cover a rock or a small tree or a man-made object.

It is this feeling of mystery, or lack of obviousness, that I am trying to express in the surfaces of my pieces, despite the main shape of the piece suggesting a certain function.

What was the last thing that inspired you?

Little things inspire me all the time. A fairly recent moment was earlier this year whilst celebrating my 40th birthday in Switzerland. My partner and I were taking shelter in a mountain hut from a blizzard outside. Through the window I could see these amazing ridged snow swirls forming. I ran out and took lots of pictures with my phone as the folds continuously changed shape. I have been trying to achieve the same effect in my work ever since.

What makes you unhappy?

Hatred, unfairness, ignorance…. Unhappy children.
Kiln disasters.

What makes you happy?

Good music, creating, sunshine…. Happy children.

What are you reading?

In a normal week I’ll be lucky if I get to read the Observer on Sunday. The last time I read a book was in the summer holiday. Solar by my favorite author Ian McEwan. Not a typical book for him, I laughed out loud several times, which is rare when I read any of his books.

Who, or what, are you listening to?

I listen to anything from Melody Gardot to Muse… depending on what I do. In the studio I listen to Xfm which gives me a daily dose of The Cure and lots of other old favorites. I went to see Django Django live last week. They were so much better live than I expected.

What’s your favourite film?

Difficult to choose. I don’t watch many films twice because I hate repetition and knowing what happens…. One of the few that I don’t mind watching again is Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s – Amelie.

If you could go back in time, where would you go?

To a hot summer’s day….

What frightens you?

Anything happening to my children that I can’t make better. Not being able to do what I do due to ill health or other circumstances.

What can’t you live without?

Oxygen, water, nutrition and love.

What’s your motto?

Do what you love rather than what you think others want you to do. It will make you a lot happier and creative in the long run.

If you only had one year to live what would you do?

I would do what I do now for most of the year and then throw a big party for my family and friends.

Up who’s arse would you like to stick a rocket, and why?

Anyone moaning around me or getting in my way the next few weeks. I’m so busy getting ready for shows between now and December.  Tolerance levels are low.

Who would you like to be stuck in an elevator with?

The thought of being stuck in an elevator should have been one of my answers to question twelve. Can’t think of anybody making that situation any better except for a lift engineer or escapologist.  I am not good in confinement of any kind.

What are you working on at the moment?

This is my busiest time of year. I am getting ready for 3 big shows (http://issuu.com/lakesideartscentre/docs/lustre2012 , http://www.herefordshire.gov.uk/craftfair/index.htm , http://www.madebyhand-wales.co.uk/) all in November, as well as making work for Christmas exhibitions and general gallery top up. I spent the whole day on the potter’s wheel today making vases and bottles. I also started playing around with some new ideas for lamp bases. I may be under time pressure, but I still love being in the studio making all day.

Which six people would you invite to your boating party?

Only six? I would fill the lake with boats and make sure all my best friends and fellow makers were there. Toe Rag would be a good band to invite for the musical entertainment.

What question would you liked me to have asked?

I’m quite happy to stop before I rant on even more…. Some tricky questions there already.

Thank you, Tone.

Inspiring snow

Cup and saucer detail

Bowls

Artist’s biography:

I was born in Switzerland, but spent most of my childhood and college years in Norway.  In 1994 I came to England on an exchange program with Manchester Metropolitan University and graduated in 3Dimensional Design  in 1995.  After years of having studios at various art centres, I now work from a purpose built studio in my garden.

My work has been widely exhibited in the UK as well as Norway, France, USA and Dubai. The work is also sold through the website www.madebyhandonline.com

My current collection of contemporary domestic Ceramics is strongly influenced by my impressions from the winter landscapes in Norway. When the snow covers trees, rocks, paths and architecture;  sharp edges become soft and everyday shapes may become unrecognizable. I have tried to bring the same feel to my work with a range of wavy vases and softly distorted beakers, bowls and bottles.  The colour range is reflecting the many tones of snow and ice and winter skies.

The work is produced using a potter’s wheel, but then cut and reassembled to non circular shapes or given soft dimples or bumps. I use food friendly glazes and fire the work to stoneware temperatures.

Ed: (Top tip, if you visit her webpage and decide to buy lots of her lovely work, her first name is pronounced: Torna.)

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I have a dream too, you know.


True, it may not be as ambitious and world-changing as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s. But it’s a dream nonetheless.

To be honest, I wasn’t going to post about it until I felt I was in more of a position to realise this dream. But short of winning the Euro Millions Lottery, it aint going to happen without some serious philanthropic backer.

So, what is my dream?

Well, it’s to build a School of Arts for under-privileged kids.

Kids from low socioeconomic backgrounds in large inner-city estates. Kids who might not ordinarily get the opportunity to explore the more creative aspects of their nature.

What good would that do society? We’re in a depression, don’t you know!

Problems in every field of human endeavour are virtually always solved by creative thinking. Even the great Albert Einstein said so himself. Creativity allows us to look at problems from different angles and apply new thinking to solve problems.

Moreover, I don’t see it as a school that produces an unprecedented amount of artists. But an unprecedented amount of creative thinkers – whichever vocation they choose to pursue later in life. Whether it be mathematics, science, business, computers, product design, or economics.

And yes, a few more more artists too. And what’s wrong with that? Art is seen as a dirty word in this country. If I tell people I write poetry, they shift uneasily in their seats. If I said I write poetry in Ireland the response would be a polite smile and a nod toward the back of the queue.

Do you think the first rocket flight to the moon was dreamed up by a scientist?

Sure, scientists and engineers made it a reality. But it is creative people who come up with the ideas and the original solutions of how they can be achieved.

What will the kids do?

The school will develop and encourage creative thinking and self-expression.

It will foster, nurture and encourage exploration of the arts in all its many and varied forms including: painting, drawing, sculpture, ceramics, poetry, literature, screenplays, theatre, drama, dance, music, design, digital arts, film, photography, humanities, languages, and the classics.

Where is this school?

I quite fancy the idea of transforming a derelict Victorian mill. There’s something quite ironic about that. Though it certainly wouldn’t be a prerequisite. (Salts Mill in Bradford is a good example.)

Initially, an inner-city campus close to urban populations that have a high level of low socioeconomic families. Basically, anywhere across the Manchester – Huddersfield – Halifax – Leeds belt. It’s also sufficiently ‘central’ enough to accommodate children from further afield.

It would also be good to have a rural retreat – somewhere like the Lake District, Peak District or the Yorkshire Dales, where children can attend week-long courses/classes which double up as a holiday.

I would also like to open an international sister school in India or Sri Lanka where people from distinctly different cultures can share ideas. These schools could also participate in exchange programmes. (Then subsequently, even further afield: China, South America, South Asia.)

What about science subjects?

This school wouldn’t be a replacement for existing schools and their curricula – more of an extension to them.

Would it exclude people from non low socioeconomic backgrounds?

Not at all. But opportunities for middle-class families in other schools are much more accessible, regardless of ability.

Intake for low income kids would be based as much on desire and enthusiasm to participate rather than ability. There would be a limited number of places for more affluent children. Sort of like Eton – in reverse.

What kind of courses will it run?

Day-long workshops for visiting schools.

After-school classes.

Week-long courses. (Which would include accommodation for traveling students.)

Weekend classes.

Full-time sixth form courses. (A-levels.)

Masters and PhD courses.

What ages are we talking about?

Key Stage 2, up to, and including, sixth form.

Undergraduate, Masters and PhD courses.

What else does the school have?

Apart from studios and classrooms?

There’d be accommodation for students who are visiting from further afield.

Cafe / restaurant.

Gallery to promote and sell students’ work.

Gallery featuring independent contemporary and traditional art.

Masterclasses from guest lecturers.

State of the art library. (Both on and off-line.)

Book shop.

Art-house cinema.

Who will pay for it?

Well, that’s the biggest question of all.

A like-minded philanthropist would be nice.

Arts Council grant.

Lottery funding.

A percentage of Masters and PhD students’ tuition fees could go towards funding.

Sales from restaurant and galleries.

Fundraising / donations.

An Ideal World School of Arts.

Salts Mill, Bradford.

David Hockney at Salts Mill.

Salts Mill interior.

Studio space?

Any constructive criticism and advice about how to get something like this funded and off the ground would be greatly appreciated.

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