So this week I have been in the South West of England, across the three counties of Devon, Cornwall, and Somerset. There was lots of travelling because there isn't much in the way of civilisation between all the potteries, but that is nice in some ways, very much unspoilt rolling hills and winding lanes.
Mike Dodd's show room, this is just the smallest of the three walls covered in pots. Mike Dodd was the first potter we visited, as we wanted to visit on a day he said he was open.
On Wednesday we also visited Lisa Hammond at Kigbeare Pottery which was about 3 miles from where we were staying in Okehampton, and when I mentioned I was a potter I got the grand tour by her latest apprentice Bethan Jones. The pottery is better equipped than my university and I didn't want to leave, I wanted to stay there and throw.
Leach Pottery (in hindsight if I knew it was that close I wouldn't have bothered with the bus). We took the tour of the pottery and watched the video, the guide on the tour quickly picked up I was a potter and started talking about bits she didn't know.
I put my camera back in the car and waited for Jack Doherty to come back to the Pottery and he gave me a personal guided tour of his studio in Bernard's old studio upstairs which was full of just fired pots and then through to the production pottery and showed me the hidden wheels. It is an amazing space and wish I had taken my camera on the tour.
I honestly didn't want to leave St Ives and would of happily spent the rest of the week there, especially if I could have worked in the pottery, it seemed a peaceful friendly place to work.
We started Friday looking for Svend Bayer's Pottery outside Sheepwash, we got to a crossroad's where we couldn't work out which was it was and as the was a van behind us we ended up going and seeing Clive Bowen's Shebbear Pottery first (No pictures from there) though panicking about a show that is 4 weeks earlier than he anticipated he took time out to show us round his pottery and showed us his big bottle kilns, I can't even imagine having enough work to fill it ever.
Svend Bayer at his Pottery it is very quiet there and he is next to the woods, you wouldn't spot it if it weren't for the chimney and the wood pile.
Doug Fitch's Hollyford Pottery, it seems very tranquil in the middle of nowhere surrounded by farm land. He showed me round his pottery which is the smallest of the week, but no less impressive. He even took me down to the stream and I brought home a ball of clay with me, it is so close to such a brilliant natural resource and it is a nice colour too not like the clay I found the near my house which goes putrid green when slaked down.
John Leach's Muchelney Pottery and John Leach did some amazing demo's. He even gave me a one to one demo on pulling handles off of a pot the pot in question was a spoon rest which he said was the strangest piece of work he has ever put a handle on. He is so warm and friendly, and teaches like a caring grandfather when it comes to giving criticism.
The last potter on our trip was Paul the Potter, just 15 minutes away from Muchelney Pottery at Barrington Court, once again I forgot my camera. I loved talking to Paul and looking around the pottery and at the buildings he was in, we don't have those sorts of barns up here in Lancashire not with proper tiles etc. He has some amazing plans for the future and another potter I will definately visit again.
Thanks to Doug Fitch, Paul Jessop, Mike Dodd, Lisa Hammond, Svend Bayer, Clive Bowen, Jack Doherty, John Leach, Nick Rees and all the apprentices (and a few other potteries I can't remember the names of) Thank you for letting me in and looking around, I just wish I had taken a few more photographs, but I always feel awkward taking photos of people especially when my young brother is a photographer and was with me.
After this week though, I want to be part of something big, something that is more than one man, I want to look for an apprenticeship again. I would love to work in the Leach Pottery but without being able to drive it is a long way from here in Lancashire.
I have lots to do this week, hopefully going to pick up some supplies from Pilling this week, to rush make some things for Christmas.