Sunday, 28 February 2010

Ceramic Art London 2010

I took a spontaneous day trip to London on Friday to see this year’s Ceramic Art London show at the Royal College of Art. Last time I went to the show was back in 2008, which was the first year I’d heard of it. I suspect not many more people have heard of it either or since! It seems only the die-hard ceramic fans know about it; either through word-of-mouth or through quarter-page advertisements in Ceramic Review. So a select group then (…) Part of me thinks it’s a shame that it isn’t a massive event with loads of publicity. Pots pots pots! Come and look at lovely pots! But another part enjoys the fact that you can wander around the stands without feeling crushed or under pressure and instead properly SEE stuff.

For a London show it's a good, manageable event, size wise: this year I counted 77 stands around the floor plan, so it doesn’t feel like a never-ending chore of stand-after-stand. Instead you can do several in-depth circuits and have a good look at everything. And perhaps because it’s attached to the college (or perhaps because it’s full of potters) it doesn’t feel like it’s only about The Sell either. Some Art/Craft shows held in London do feel a bit like this: Origin for instance (currently held in Somerset House in autumn) is a lovely show, but has the air of being a showcase for selling only. Ceramic Art London on the other hand is like a secret club of ceramic makers, experts, collectors and pure fanatics: not only can you buy the most gorgeous stuff from some of the biggest names in British contemporary ceramics, but you can also ask them questions. Or at least, that’s what I did! So I came away with some wonderful tips and suggestions from several makers (especially from the lovely David Frith - no less!) all of whom were very happy to share and not in the least bit possessive or precious about their ‘methods’.

Downstairs at the show is the self-service canteen which during normal college hours serves the students as cafeteria. And just before the canteen is the make-shift ceramic bookshop full of lovely books on ceramics. I was tempted by at least three books but eventually resisted (owing to lack of funds). This year though they also had a small display of pottery tools for sale: so I treated myself to a nice new slip trailer and an extra long sponge-on-a-stick (these being more immediately useful than a £30 book!) And finally I bought myself a mug from Lisa Hammond’s stand as a little personal treat – it was only £16, gorgeous and (again) immediately practical of course.

And that was Friday. A very nice day out! Lots of inspiration, ideas and tips - and also a new ‘wish list’ of books which I thought I’d make links to from here, for future reference…

British Studio Ceramics - Paul Rice

Oriental Glazes - Michael Bailey

Lucie Rie - Tony Birks

The Glaze Book... - Stephen Murffit

And you can visit the Ceramic Art London site here:

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