This morning I determined that I should ride to work the long way, haven’t done it in ages and I needed some head clearing and to get it full of some of those good chemicals that exercise gives you. It was a beautiful sunny morning with not a sign of the sharp heavy storms that have been battering us in more ways than one this last week or two.
I am lucky that I live amongst these pretty quiet lanes, at the moment they are mighty muddy and full of slop, mud guards are essential kit. The hedges have just been massacred, they don’t cut them so much as hack them with a blunt implement and so we have hawthorn spikes strewn about all over just waiting for an unexpecting passing cyclist. It’s still a stunning place to live.
This morning as I was pootling along I gave a deer a bit of a shock, accidentally. He was minding his own business munching in a copse of trees, I’d just riden through a patch of road sheltered under trees, the roadside were thick white with frost and the air under the trees was so cold that it quite took my breath away from my asthmatic lungs. I came out of the shade into the sunshine and could feel the warmth from the sun and whooped for joy at which point the deer jumped a mile or so off the ground and belted for cover. Oops. I only realise just how much I talk to myself when Hazel walks in and catches me at it though of course she is too polite to mention it, or when I disturb the wildlife by doing it.
It’s time for lighting the fire at work, it doesn’t need much but there is certainly a chill to be taken off in the mornings now. I have clay to test after having a nightmare or three for the last few months, ongoing glaze and slip tests and work to make for Christmas exhibitions. I have sent one off already to The Platform Gallery in Clitheroe, one parcel for the Alexander Bakery Flour Store will be collected next week and the others are going to be thrown next week. I have as always said yes to too many places and as always find myself in a flap trying to make sure that I give everyone the best and most appropriate pieces that I can.
So today was the first day of feeling like I was getting some proper work done in ages. These mugs along with 15 others have been sitting there under plastic taunting me for a life time or there abouts. Oh it did feel good to sit down with sieved smooth lovely slips and let myself play with these. At the weekend I went to the Wigtown Book Festival, the first talk I went to was entitled “The Power of Working With Your Hands” and was given by Robert Twigger and John Paul Flintoff. It was really interesting, lots of great points raised both by the speakers and by the audience. I was intrigued by the fact that one of the speakers said he often felt like an imposter at his writing, I feel like that often with my work, especially when someone is praising what I do, I worry that at some point I’m going to get caught out.
The other great point which really struck a chord was when someone said that in order to free up your creativity for the thing that you do that is so important, you should pick something that doesn’t matter to you so much to make and let your mind and hands be occupied with that. I don’t know if you remember earlier in the year I was at a real sticking point, the shelves at work were empty and I had deadlines rushing at me from all directions and I couldn’t get my hand back in. Doug in his eternal wisdom (?) told me to make 50 mugs, all different shapes, all different decorations. Mugs are to a certain degree disposable, they are small enough that they don’t have to have huge amounts of time invested in them and the theory was that I could just let go and not worry and play with them. What actually happened was that I had a ball! I loved the challenge, it did free my mind and my hands and I ended up, I think, doing some of the most exciting decoration I’d done in a long time. That allowed me lots of tiny canvases on which to try lots of new ideas. So now I have all those ideas that I can translate and apply to larger forms and build on them again. It was a great trick and I must remember it in future for the next sticking point. I know there’ll be more, it’s not a plain sailing ‘therapeutic’ job that it may look like from the outside. Don’t get me wrong, it’s the best job in the world and I wouldn’t do anything else but believe me it has it’s moments too.
So these mugs are following on from those earlier in the year, most of which are now with their new owners and hopefully being enjoyed even as I write.
I shall leave you with these clean small happy cows enjoying the sunshine this morning.