Are we sitting comfortably?

Then I’ll begin.
Firstly sorry for keeping you all in suspenders all day, the actually story will probably be a disappointment after the big build up.

Yesterday the Scottish Potters Association had arranged to visit Paisley Museum to have a close up look at the collection of studio pottery which had belonged to a lovely lady by the name of Mitzi Bales and which she has recently donated to the museum. She has been collecting British studio pottery since she moved to Britain in the 1960’s and has now, at the age of eighty something I think it was though you’d never believe it to meet her, donated it so that the museum can use it for education and research purposes.
Paisley from here is about 80miles, not too far but the roads are a bit wiggly and windy and so it should take about two and a half hours by car. I looked at the train times thinking it was a waste to drive all that way on my own and that I should use the train and I do love train journeys but of course none of the times matched up even vaguely with the times we were to be at the museum and so I thought I’d be better off driving. Now considering I used to live in Bolton which is now really just a suburb of Manchester (big city for those not from these parts) and I used to drive in and around Manchester regularly well since I moved here I’ve turned into a bit of a country bumpkin. Now I really avoid driving to cities if I can at all help it and have a tendency to turn into a panicking wobbling Hannah if I have to.

So yesterday I set off in plenty of time with all my directions lodged firmly in my brain, and pootled off up the beautiful wiggling road towards Ayr calling into New Galloway on route to drop off some pots. So far so good. The sun was shining the skies were blue and I was fair enjoying the trip and excited about seeing these pots and about seeing my friends at the SPA again. Whilst meandering along it did cross my mind that the drill which I had on the back seat in a plastic box was rattling around rather a lot and making a racket and I should have remembered to leave it at home.
At Ayr I headed north for Glasgow and as I pulled out at the roundabout there thought there was a hell of a noise and then saw the big bus behind me and figured that it was him accelerating that had caused the roaring. At the next roundabout he wasn’t anywhere in sight but the noise was most definitly still there. Hmmm, pulled into a layby, had a look round the car, couldn’t see anything wrong but I’m a potter not a mechanic so what would I know. Set off again, and in doing so realised that the rattling was not sadly being caused by the drill but by the car’s exhaust pipe, and that at 12miles an hour it sounded like a cross between a formula one racing car and a fart in a drain pipe (excuse the description but you know what I mean.)

Kilmarnock was the next place that I knew had a railway station so as I was only a couple of miles away I headed in abandoning the car at the first car park I found and then running to the town centre to seak out the railway station. Phew! Found the station, got the ticket, by this point I was beginning to have a bit of a head ache and starting to worry about being late and missing the excitement. Damn! Train delayed, bugger bugger bugger, got to Glasgow but because of the delay had missed the connection, bugger again. It ended up being the train I would have had to get if I had gotten the train in the first place. So I got there eventually and sadly had missed most of Mitzi’s talk which was a real shame but at least I got to see the pots. I figured I’d worry about the car once I got back to it.

The pots were a great variety. The thing I found most interesting was that Mitzi had had a smallish budget when buying her pots so the collection wasn’t the sort of big key pieces type of collection that you would expect but was a collection of smallish pieces, much like the sort of thing that I usually buy, mugs, small jugs and bowls. There was a tale about most of the pots and a specific reason for buying each one from a tiny Sid Tustin ramekin, little jugs by Colin Pearson and David Leach. A lovely collection of Ruthanne Tudball pots, they were obviously a favourite, a couple of Clive Bowens, a very early Mick Casson and a couple of Sheila Casson’s, an Ursula Mommens jug and the Svend Bayer jug she treated herself to when she gained British citizenship. Mitzi said she always tried to visit a pottery on her birthday to buy a present for herself – I love that idea! Mike Dodd and Phil Rodgers rubbing shoulders with Aki Moriuchi, Ray Finch and Lisa Hammond. May and Harry Davis, Peter Dick, Toff Milway, Derek Emms, Wally Keeler, Edmund DeWaal and Terry Bell-Hughes. Phew! You get the idea. A fabulous overview of studio pottery during the time of her collection.
Mitzi is involved with the CPA and still buys and uses hand made pots every day. After the pots were finished with – we couldn’t touch them which was oh so hard- a couple of us popped to the cafe for a cuppa and a chat with Mitzi. Fran our lovely chairperson introduced me and Mitzi said where have I met you before then? I said I didn’t think we had met and she replied ahh, you’ve been in the CPA News publication haven’t you. Blimey, there is no escape!
The other exciting thing at the museum was a case full of Jason Shackleton’s pots on the staircase on the way up to the gallery, from way back back when. I took a couple of pictures, I’ll show you tomorrow, they had a lovely collection of his there.
So back on busy busy trains back to Kilmarnock, to find the car, to start it up and see how far I could get before the exhaust fell off. I have a handy stash of clay bag ties in my glove box for just such occasions and I kept thinking as long as I can get to … I’ll be ok. For a big part of the journey over the hills through Dallmellington and Carsphairn there would be no mobile signal so I did feel I was chancing my luck somewhat. Any how I got back in the end, a little later than planned and in a much noisier fashion that I would like. It sounds like I’ve turned into a teenage boy racer but then you realise I’m not speeding up and down the high street at all hours and the analogy ends there.
As I say, not at all as interesting or exciting as you had probably been imagining but it was one hell of a day!

Been a beautiful day here today.

This entry was posted in car, CPA, Mitzi Bales, SPA. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Are we sitting comfortably?

  1. Worth waiting for, Hannah. You do write the native language well. And at least you got to see all those pots. It’s good to know that a museum will open its arms for a collection of quality “small” pots.

  2. Regardless of the mishaps, it still sounded like a hoot…Enjoyed that x

  3. ang says:

    what a trip are a laugh, i loved the fart in a drain pipe….heheheh

  4. Peter says:

    Lovely collection of pots. (Photos good too.) Really enjoyed your account of the trip, and do hope your car makes a full and swift recovery. Best Wishes. P.

  5. What a trip! Mitzi sounds an interesting character and I like the idea of her collection. I think I should certainly take up the idea of buying myself a birthday present.

  6. Anonymous says:

    You have just registered 110 on the blogometer (highest reading should be 100) and promoted to the lofty office of ‘Potting Raconteur 2009’.I must say a day out with Hannah is not just from A to B, but A,B,C,D,E,F,G………………………

  7. Jenny Davies says:

    That sounds just like my car when my exhaust was damaged by a pot hole – cost us £300 to get fixed!Hope you are well! xx

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