I’ve been back a week nearly now and I would have liked to have told you how it all went straight away but you know, I have been exhausted and have been just enjoying being back at home. This is the first time in a long long time that I have been at home knowing that I don’t have to rush off somewhere soon. (Well I say that while typing in an otherwise empty flat in Glasgow which is a lovely flat and thank you very much Helen and Kate for letting me stay even though you both are away but I’ll be home tomorrow for a while I hope.)
So I was away with the Craftscotland team to Philadelphia in the US to exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show, which unless you have not been paying any attention what so ever you should already know. It isn’t held in the museum, it’s in the most enormous conference centre I have ever seen in my life, it’s about the size of Dumfries I think. From the outside though apart from this banner you wouldn’t have a clue what incredible stunningly beautiful treasures were to be seen inside. There’s huge windows all along the side of the hall we were in but you can’t see in from the road as it’s blocked by curtains and in the cavernous entrance halls there’s just the ticket boxes and it’d be great to have cases out there with work in or some more banners or something to help tempt people in. It’s probably not allowed with rules and regulations you know but it’d be great to see.
So we travelled out from Edinburgh on the monday morning, lost one member of the team at Heathrow as he was poorly and he had to catch us up later. It felt like an awfully long day as these days of travelling always seem to, arriving in Philadelphia on the monday evening at about 10pm. I was not a part of the intrepid party animal sub group that headed out to find our new ‘local’ and ended up with a lock in till heaven only knows what time in the morning, me I was tucked up in bed fast asleep trying to gather up some energy and calm headed-ness in order to get through the set up the next day.
At ten o’clock the next morning this is what we were met with, this and the team of volunteers from the Womens Committee who undertake to organise this huge and stunningly impressive craft event every year in order to promote quality craft and to raise funds for the Philadelphia Museum of Art. We had run down of the whole programme for the coming week, when we needed to have what done by and then trips were organised to Ikea and the like for those who needed to get display equipment for their stands.
I was the luckiest, jammiest person there though as my very own knights in shining armour, my elves extraordinaire in Virginia had been planning and organising on my behalf. Never in my life have I been so envied I don’t believe. Partly it was because I had help. Jason, blogger Dan Finnegan’s apprentice had driven over with a truck full of plinths (yes Jason that’s p-l-i-n-t-h-s) and hard walls and a hamper full of tea and tasty treats to keep a Hannah going through a show. The other reason that I was envied was that Jason as well as being a great help and a lovely chap just happened to be found a tad good looking by my female companions, bless him.
So my stand after the helping hand from the gentleman formerly known as Jason, now thanks to Grace known as “hot Jason,” looked like this! Most of the million of so pictures that I took are a wee bit blurry so that’s a bit of a swine. I’ve never displayed on black before, the booths at the show were hung with black curtains, which isn’t the norm here, usually at shows here you’d get a shell scheme wall or nothing at all depending on the venue. Anyway believe it or not I was pretty pleased with how it looked and with a lot of the pots, which if you’ve heard me moan about my stand in the past may come as a bit of a surprise. The bottles of water and home baked cakes and kettle and bread and tasty cheese that came in the hamper certainly helped sustain both myself and others of the gang during the show.
Just before the opening event which was on the wednesday evening I got the chance with ceramicist Myer Halliday from Edinburgh to have a quick wander about the town. We popped in for a quick visit the Philadelphia Clay Studio which is a huge place, lots of studio spaces upstairs which we didn’t see but a big gallery space with loads of pots. Lots of work by potters whose pots I know from online and reading blogs and the like but have never seen in the flesh before. I’ve some pictures from that that I’ll show you in another post.
While we were a wandering in the sunshine we came across this beautiful little street near the clay centre and I was rather taken with the pumpkins. I spent the next two week, pumpkin spotting, in Phili and New York and Shelter Island. The ones that have started to rot and collapse were fab too.
The private view is like nothing I have ever experienced before. It was busy busy busy, the wine and beer and cocktails flowed (nowhere near me as I had a head ache from hell and was having to concentrate to stay stood up and seeing straight). There was tasty and quite frankly bizarre food. There was one area serving the full Thanksgiving menu, another with a roasted vegetable ensemble and then the weirdest one with three different types of mashed potatoes which you put into a glass and then added your own toppings of chives and grated cheese etc to. Now I have never seen anything quite like that before. That was before the multiple bread pudding / ice cream / cream / chocolate sauce / nuts area.
The show was pretty good for me, I had lots of pots left over but my work went down pretty well. It was good that a lot of the people coming could see within what I do the link to a style of pottery that was made by the Pennsylvania-Dutch settlers to the region that they are now familiar with. I spoke to lots of people who have a fondness for that tradition and who were familiar with the huge collection that the PMA has.
I also had a bundle of visitors who I’d met with Doug back in April, firstly there was a surprise visit but oh what a lovely surprise from Betsy who has workshop space at Liberty Town in Fredericksburg.
On the saturday blogger Finnegan came up (I think it’s up from his neck of the woods) to stay over and we dragged him along in a completley disorganised and almost ridiculously pathetic tour of the all the streets that were empty of and pubs or bars let alone one that could fit all 30 of us in at the one time. So much for one drink and then finding somewhere to go and have a nice meal and a good natter, we ended up with a beer or three and some live music and then a quick escape from the pub before the dancing and the filming of Doritos adverts started.
Dan helped me out on the sunday at my stand and we had a visit from Nancy Gallagher. Another flying visit from her, but Dan and Nancy managed not to bump into each other in the huge show though it was great to see you Nancy even though it was brief. My tile above MW’s! Thanks!
On the scale of flappingness, as shows go, the run up and the thought of how stressful it could be was hugely flappy but in actual fact the reality of flappyness wasn’t what I had predicted. I enjoyed the show though it was as these things always are very hard work. It’s been months in the planning and sorting what with new glazes and shipping logistics. I felt somehow less pressure there than I would at home, maybe because I didn’t really have any expectations, lots of hopes yes but nothing personally to compare it to and it’s so far from home it sort of feels a bit unreal.
My two set up / take down elves were there at the end of the show to pack up the display kit and the pots that hadn’t already found new homes. Dan had incredibly offered to take back to Liberty Town any work that hadn’t sold already to sell from there on my behalf. What a man! He’s just something else, I can’t thank him enough for everything he has done for me. Honestly I do have some of the best friends that anyone could hope to have.
More tales and pictures at another point for you but for now I shall head off to my bed and leave you with these pics to enjoy.