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memories of aberystwyth - international potters festival - long - hope

updated wed 9 jul 03


kruzewski on tue 8 jul 03

of interest to some

It seems weeks ago that I was working up to the hour getting pots and
paperwork ready for Aberystwyth and ignoring Avril's admonishments not to go
to bed too late. Of course I went to bed at 2am!

Somehow time seems to compress at these events, I'm sure those of you whio
visit NCECA would agree. So those 3 days seem an eternity as I look back
over them.

As usual I missed lots of events I wanted to see, missed absent friends, dug
up lots of memories of previous years.

Made some new friends.

Janet and I decided I should make shell pins so that all the Clayarters
could identify each other. In the end Janet was left at home - but we all
talked about you a lot Janet, you were there in spirit - but the pins worked
very well, except I found so many Clayarters wearing MY pin and gave them
out Friday night that I forgot to leave them with Steve Mills, so May Luk
didn't get hers till quite late on.

So, the Clayarters. A small band wearing shell pins. Everyone kept asking
what the shell pins were for, so clayart got talked about a lot.

Russel. Everyone at Aberystwyth seemed to know Russel! Even as I registered
at reception before the Festival had even started, people were talking about
Russel Foutes! Avril found him in the dinner queue with Steve Mills on
Friday night. Friday night was a good night, I even got steaming drunk!

Jenny Lewis set sail for her new life as a full-time potter at Aberystwyth
this year, and reminded me of my first Aber - when I did the same.

We all arranged to meet and exchange mugs on Saturday night. Robin forgot
his - then we lost him. We couldn't find David Hewitt but exchanged for him
anyway, and lost Geoff and Chris Cox altogether - sorry both! Poor Russel
got mine. I got May's which I am VERY pleased with. Avril got David's,
eventually, David got Jenny's - also eventually, and Jenny got Avril's. So
Steve must've got Russel's, but who got Steve's - was it May? Sandi didn't
have a mug to exchange but came along for the ride. How you all keep track
of your big exchange beats me. How you organise it beat's me too - I was
somewhat shambolic.

I managed to get a front row seat for Warren Mackenzie and Wally Keeler.
This must have been the highlight of my weekend. Watching Warren Mackenzie
throw and talk about Bernard Leach and St. Ives and the pots he makes was
wonderful, so inspiring. As I type I am drinking out of one of his mugs, I
was lucky to be able to buy. He shared the stage on Saturday with Mehmet
Gursaoy from Turkey who has brought the ancient tradition of ceramic
decoration called Cini back to life. His work was amazing.

Wally Keeler was next, making one of his fantastic tea pots. You know, you
get an idea of a person in your mind, Wally was not at all like I imagined.
Softly spoken, self depreciating, he was fascinating. He was accompanied by
Sandy Lockwood whose softly thrown forms are so different.

I missed Wally Keeler on Sunday but did see Warren McKenzie a 2nd time, this
time with Udai Lal Kuhmar who makes Terracotta Icons in Rajestan. I had seen
his slide show earlier in the day. Can you imagine being a 15th generation
potter, an unbroken line, father to son for 700 years? There is even a
"legend" as to how the first in the line started. He was blind and the god
told him to make a statue of him in clay, so the potter asked "how can I, I
am blind?" The god said "I am standing behind you open your eyes, you will
see my shadow" so he did, and made the statue and a shadow - as relief work.
His descendants have been doing this work ever since. Udai was asked if he
has a son and will he continue the line. He said he had a 13 year old (about
that age) who was learning, but that he hoped that he would study well and
find a better paid job because, although these icons are in high demand it
was getting harder and harder to run a home as a potter. After 700 years it
seems it will end.

I missed so much that I wished I had seen. I missed Simon Carroll being spun
round and having a clay crown "thrown" on his bald head, but I did see, on
the monitor outside the hall, Jeroen Bechtold and a rather surprised Billy
Adams playing "catch" (and smash!) with Jeroen's slip molded pots - and
Jeroen saying "you see, I do throw pots!".

We made a happy little party travelling home on Sunday night, Avril and me
and Russel who was visiting Janet for the night. Russel popped by my house.
He couldn't come in because he's allergic to all the cats, but he wanted to
see the view and the place on top of the cliff where I park my car - just to
see it IS true.
Avril took him to Machynlleth station the next day on her way home. He may
even be able to say Machynlleth by now (my home town)!

I took lots of photos over the weekend, some of which will be posted on
Janet's SUCAWS web site as soon as we can get together - I shall also be
sending a CD full to Joyce when she sends me her mail address - virtual


North Wales