I took a last minute flying visit trip down to Manchester this week. It had been a “shall I / shan’t I” venture for a week or so what with the weather and the fact that I am happily becoming a hermit now. In the end I did go and I’m so pleased that I did, it was great to get to Alex McErlain’s retirement gathering. He’s the chap (if you haven’t been paying enough attention in the past) that was the key to my starting to make pots as he was the head of ceramics at Manchester Metropolitan University when I did my degree. He’s a very special man.
Dreadful picture sorry, I was trying not to get in anyones way when I took it and so it is rather blurred. This is Alex talking about some of the key moments in his life at the uni. He’s holding a bloody lovely Patrick Sargent bowl there, this is in the Special Collections department at the uni, a place that is full of wonderful and amazing things. Sharon Blakey, also my ceramics tutor there, led us through Alex’s time there too and made a lovely tale of it.
At the end of Alex’s tale came a look at what comes next including the ongoing collaboration with Alice Kettle and the couple of tons of clay dug out of a certain field at Hollyford in Devon and his plans to hot foot it down there and get to work with it.
Finally a bit of a building in Manchester made from red brick, there are lots of them built with bricks which I think all come from the same place – Alex would I am sure be able to correct me if I’m wrong there. Where I used to live in a wee village called Little Lever on the outskirts of Bolton, just along the canal from Manchester, our house was built over the top of an old coal seam, the colliery workings were down at the bottom of the street and at the top of the street was a brick works. The garden was full of clay and somewhere amongst my boxes of stuff are some pots that I made with slip on them made from this clay and there’s one which I used it to make a glaze with. I’ll see if I can’t dig them out when I have a minute. You know I think that’s the first time I’ve ever thought “isn’t it a shame I don’t live there anymore” (and that was only because I was thinking about that clay).