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Thought for the Day

Last day of the International Ceramics Festival here in Aberystwyth, there was a wonderful performance by Punk Raku last night. Every two years, I get to stand on the demo stage with mazing makers and I am reminded of the incredible skill and generosity in our clay community.

Punk Raku

July 5th

Currently back stage at the International Ceramics Festival with stage manager Avril Ryan putting the final touches to tonight's opening ceremony presentation. I hope it will be a good one...?!

July 3rd

I am packing my car to leave for Aberystwyth and busy preparing for the ICF festival! It's going to be a busy one for me with my gallery event tomorrow, TV interview and opening ceremony on Friday, a lecture to give early on Saturday and of course MC'ing the demonstration stage on Saturday and Sunday. My head is a little fizzy with all the things to remember to prepare and pack. But most importantly I have to remember to relax and enjoy it.

July 2nd

So after weeks of glitches and set backs my flatback project for the British Ceramics Biennial is ready to be bisque fired, this was the first time I got to see the complete sequence in a physical realm, funny how different they appear from the digital realm where they were created. And I am pleased to say I think they work okay in terms of scale and movement. Hopefully this sense of movement will be enhanced by the lustre decoration. "She Danced him into a Flat Spin" will be shown as part of the 'Cultural Icon" exhbition at the Potteries Museum in Stoke and Trent in September as part of the British Ceramics Festival and then tour the Brighton and Hove Museum from November..... I'm off to cast a spare set now!

July 1st

Today I attended a Clwstwr Creadigol event in the centre of Cardiff, The even brought together over 60 research academics from the 3 unis in Cardiff, this is the first time they ever worked on a project together. This is huge project looking at innovation in screen based media in Wales. As a co-investigator in the project my nervousness of being pushed far out of my comfort zone is greatly eased by the sheer thrilling potential of the project as well as the friendliness of the project team. Its good to move through those scary zones at times.

May 29th

Today our Maker degree show opened for public viewing. It's my 25th End of Year exhibition in teaching and I still get as excited as I did the first time. That's a whole generation of students who I have seen graduate, and while the world around us has changed inexorably and what we teach has changed to meet new needs, but show time never really changes. There is stress, tears, laughter, lots of white paint and hard work. The joy of seeing people proud of what they've achieved is very special indeed and I feel privileged to be any small part of that. My even greater joy is to see what they go on to do in life.

May 28th

Today I flew over the Irish Sea from Dublin to Cardiff. I never tire of the thrill of flying and I fly a lot, (I try and appease my guilt by cycling everywhere else). The sheer magnificence of being above the clouds always fills me with giddy joy. I think it's the heady combination of natural beauty, seemingly impossible physics and the faint risk of sudden death, that makes flying a sublime experience for me.

May 27th

Today is my mother's birthday, it would have been her 80th, I imagine we would have thrown quite a party, she loved a good party. Sadly she died in 1988 at the tender age of 49, so instead of a party I went to visit her grave for a chat and picked a few burgeoning spring weeds off it. She always had to look her best! To remember her on her special day myself, my father and my aunt (her younger sister) went for lunch, our venue was the clubhouse of a posh golf resort which was formerly an old school run by the Christian Brothers where in days of old we attended many an annual fete. For one such fete, when I was aged about 13, my mother asked me to be a contestant in the Fete's Queen of the Pool, a strong swimmer for my age I jumped at any opportunity to swim in any sort of gala, so I donned my swimsuit, the one with all my swim badges proudly stitched on my hip and wore on top a khaki safari dress, I remember it had bullet holders above the chest pockets, (who even designed that for a child?) When we arrived at the fete I was so excited to get in the pool, the dreary Irish weather was no deterrent, but to my alarm the pool was empty, to cement my now rising suspicions my mother gave me a sash to wear, this was no swimming competition but a beauty pageant. She had aspirations above our station for me and my sister who had also been duped into this fiasco. The next few hours involved parading around an empty pool with a group of full grown women with breasts and everything, answering the judges inane questions (which to my disgust, had nothing to do with swimming), and the final indignity of having my photo taken for the local paper. So in the Cork Examiner archives is an image of a fuming 13 year old short haired tomboy in a safari outfit standing amongst a group of glamorous want to be models who most definitely were not wearing any swimming badges under their dresses.

So needless to say I didn't win but on our trip home as my sister and I silently fumed with our mother, she was nonetheless jubilant as she had only gone and won a trophy for "Best Dressed Lady" of the fete. 37 years later that trophy still holds pride of place in our living room!

Happy birthday Mum, still so loved and missed after all these years.


May 26th

Today I went to Mass, although I am a spectacularly failed catholic, to not attend Mass with my father when I return home feels impolite. The church is a rather grand gothic affair and holds huge sense of place for me, with many significant events in our lives occurring under it's vaulted roof, marriages, christening, communion, confirmations and funerals, not to mention the dreaded confessional, it's witnessed the best and worst in our lives.

Tradition dictates families sit in a chosen seat, the position of which denotes both social standing and levels of devotion, we are half way back on the left, we know our place, in 50 years of attending this church I have no idea what the church looks like from the right! You literally grew up staring at the backs of the same heads, but today I noticed a clearer view of the altar and became all too aware of the gaps where those heads once proudly stood. I miss those heads.

May 25th

So today I was travelling from Dublin to Cork city by coach, I opted to depart form the Airport so I could avail of the express coach and avoid the city. As I bought a ticket from a kind lady in a kiosk, she directed me to the bus stop with the comforting words 'it'll be pulling in any minute', so 55 Irish minutes later I boarded the bus. Sometime into the journey I looked up form my newspaper to notice the bus was in fact chugging it's way slowly into the very heart of the city I had planned to avoid. Vexed by this further delay I thought I should, like the touristic passengers around me, just sit back and enjoy the sights of Dublin, on putting my paper down and looking out the window the first thing I saw was a brawl between two men on Bachelor's Quay, it had literally stopped traffic and resulted in one man losing his shorts completely (I spare you that image), the tourists all standing with their cameras pressed to the window. Welcome to Ireland! I like to think of of their holiday snap slides shows back in their native lands, Cliffs of Moher, Lakes of Killarney, Bare Cheeked Man by O'Connell Bridge...

May 24th

So it's May 24th and May is out June... on the 7th it appears. Just after hosting Donald Trump's state visit, what a retirement gift, as if leaving with your head hung in shame wasn't punishment enough. Nervously awaiting the results of the EU elections I have borrowed an image which a friend posted in relation to the Indian elections which seemed very apt for our own situation.

May 23

Today we vote in European Elections, it interesting to note that only 35.6% of registered UK voters tuned out to vote in the 2014 European Elections and then we were in it for the long haul. Today I am sure we will see a huge increase to this number and for many they will be voting tactically and against their normal voting patterns or in an oddly "turkey voting for Christmas' way. So if nothing else positive comes form this political upheaval at least one very small comfort is that we may be better informed abut the political process we may soon be leaving ... and I now know about d Hondt system of proportional representation. So if you are reading this in the gallery today, also know that your are in the 'europhile' capital of the UK and please make sure the Clay Crusader is holding his 'Brexit Really?" placard.

May 22nd 2019

So the show opens today so my thoughts are on that! I have come home from installing and my house and studio are empty, I can see my dining table for the first time in months, I have a box free hallway and brain bereft of long lists. I have time to weed the garden and literally smell the roses. I hope you enjoy the show .. touch, move, listen and look at everything robustly and test it for those who follow, you will be the first to ever engage with some of these works!

Thought for the Day is a QR enabled flatback of myself in deep thought this post will update daily with thoughts and meanderings while the object is on show at Aberystwyth Arts Centre from 22nd May 2019 - July 14th 2019

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