Friday, 7 May 2021

The Stratford Gallery, spring 2021

Another visit to the Stratford Gallery to view their spring collection. Even though they have specialised in Japanese ceramics for a while now, their collection has grown considerably and the attic floor must have at least 800 pieces.

Inhwa Lee - Material Moments:

I loved these. Lee's porcelain sets draw from the appearance of traditional Korean ceramics.  She works with a blend of opaque and translucent clay and porcelain to create hand-thrown cylindrical vessels with a marbled appearance. Once the clay is dry, she works the interior and exterior of each piece to render the walls so fine that light can pass through them. In creating delicate clay vessels that resemble marbled paper and appear to glow within, she pushes her material to its limit and displays its inherent elegance.


The Japanese collection:

I got a bit overwhelmed by the sheer number of vessels and ended up photographing very few. But, it's an incredible collection.

Kiyoshi Yamato, White Hagi Incense Burner, (Hagi clay body)

Hiroshi Yamada, Ebi (wild grape( Shino Chawan, (Echizen hand dug clay body, gas fired with Feidspar Orita details)

Takashi Tanimoto, Iga Chawan, (Iga clay body, Feidspar, natural ash glaze, oil and wood fired)

Robert Fornell, Oribe chawan, Hididashi method, (kick wheel thrown)

Robert Fornell, hand formed Tangu chawan, (stoneware)

Eddie Curtis, Celadon Cha-Ire, (stoneware)

Eddie Curtis, Container (porcelain, celadon, copper red oxides)

Eddie Curtis, Mizusashi, (stoneware, celadon, copper red oxides)

Akira Satake, Yakishime Chawan, (wood fired stoneware)

Robert Fornell, Black, White and Silver Kurinuki Guinomi, (stoneware)

Mitch Iburg, Sake Set, Tokkuri and 2 Guinomis, (Virginia and Minnesota kaolinitic clays, crushed rhyolite and granite, 4 day anagama firing)

Sasha Wardell:

Wide Oval Galaxy Bowl, (bone china)

Aaron Scythe:

I wasn't that keen on Scythe's work at first, but it's growing on me.

Scythe trained in New Zealand where he developed an interest in Momoyama pots. In 1993 he began investigating Shino glazes. In 1995, he travelled to Japan to study the Minoyaki style of pottery. From 1997 until 2011 he was based in Mashiko, Japan, where he developed Oribe and Kizeto ware, and began making porcelain work. Due to the Fukushima meltdown in 2011, Scythe and his family relocated to New Zealand. Recently he started exploring English slipware methods.

His current yobitisugi (or borrowed-patches process) alighs with the contemporary Japanese Basara style, which is a take on the wabi-sabi philosopy of the 16th century Momoyama period. The effect is a harmonious floating patchwork of clays that frame traditional and contemporary drawings deftly painted in cobalt or enamel. By piecing porcelain and stoneware shard shapes together when the clay is still very soft, he utilizes the sentiment and beauty of kintsugi, the Japanese art of repair, but with mismatched clays that graciously adapt to each other. The result of mysterious narratives consisting of landscapes, body parts, patterns or elusive writing.


Large Dish

Wide Mug with Cut Foot


Shallow Bowl

Winter Teabowl - Chawan

Tall Footed Mug

And a painting by Kerry Harding:

There She is (oil on canvas)

Wednesday, 5 May 2021


The heron is back to its usual place, by the stream under the bridge, after over a year of absence. I had missed it.


Sunday, 2 May 2021

Defending the Right to Protest

All around the country, thousands marched yesterday, May the 1st, protesting against the new Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021. The biggest march was in London but most towns had their own protest, including our small town, where we gathered around the bandstand in the Pump Room Gardens to register our protest against this bill that would be an attack on some of the most fundamental rights of citizens in the UK, aiming to silence protest. 

The bill is being rushed through parliament before people have been able to fully understand its profound implications and it's driven through at a time and in a way where those who will be subject to its provisions are least able to respond. The bill would give the Home Secretary powers to create laws to define 'serious disruption' to communities and organisations, which police can then rely on to impose conditions on protests. 

The bill covers a wide range of areas, from sentencing to digital information. But it is a specific section on the policing of protests which aims to silence them that is the most worrying. The point of demonstrations is to be heard, to have an impact, they are the free speech of the unheard, the last medium of communication and influence available to people who are frozen out of the formal political system - the government is effectively sticking duct tape over the mouths of protesters. The inability to be heard is now a precondition for being able to protest.

A notable proposal in the bill is to make defacing statues and monuments punishable by up to 10 years in jail. The bill contains next to nothing on countering violence against women and girls; it does nothing to increase sentences for rapists, stalkers, or those who batter, control and abuse women; it does nothing about street harassment and assaults. It would consequently,  make it possible for someone to be more harshly punished for damaging statues than for rape.

More than 150 organisations have warned ministers that the new law handing police tougher powers to crack down on protesters would be an attack on some of the most fundamental rights of citizens. The bill has passed its second reading by 359 votes to 263.

There were a lot of speakers, some of them excellent,

and a lot of organisations took part,

and lots of placards. We were pleased with the turnout, which, for a small place like ours, was excellent.

Meanwhile, Ken wore his 'Stop the Bill' badge, which dates back to 1971, when thousands around the country protested against the Industrial Relations Act, introduced by Edward Heath's government. The law meant that strikes without official backing would be banned. The act was intensely opposed by unions and helped undermine the Heath government. In 1974, the Labour government repealed the act.

A clear reminder, that our struggles are not new, but on-going, and that those in power will always try to repress our attempts to improve our lives and try to silence us.

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Broadway and Saintbury

We like visiting the Cotswolds, and since the Stratford Gallery has relocated to Broadwat, it's an added incentive to visit the village. Now that lockdown restrictions have been partly eased, it's good to venture beyond our town and the local walks.

We parked near the central square and started exploring

The shops were open, but I was disappointed to see that Broadway Modern, the art gallery, had closed down.

Everything in this village is so neat and tidy, and just so.

The Cotswold honey-coloured stone is what gives these villages their unique character

it positively glows

Everything is enhanced by the blossom that is everywhere

This is the local deli, which is absolutely wonderful. Don't ask about the car in the window....

They have a traffic light system for going into the shop to facilitate social distance

One of the few detached properties in the village

We couldn't decide if it was warm enough to sit somewhere for lunch so we sat here on a bench for a while to test the situation. We decided we would get too cold sitting outside for any length of time

so we walked back to the car park and made our way home to have lunch there.

A few miles out of Broadway, I commented, as I always do,  on how much I like the spire of a church we see in the distance. This time, we decided to investigate, so turned left, drove up this hill and stopped to have a look

at St Nicholas of Saintbury.

The chuch was built in the 13th century. Some aspects of it though, including the south door provide evidence of an earlier church on the site. The limestone building has stone slate roofs.

The spire above the tower can be seen for miles but the reverse is also true - the views of the Cotswold countryside surrounding the church were breathtaking

unfortunately the church was closed, but we walked around the grounds

some of the graves were very old, like the church itself.

And then, it was time to head off back home.