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aberystwyth 2005: day one

updated mon 11 jul 05


Janet Kaiser @ The Chapel of Art on sun 10 jul 05

I did not really feel like talking about clay, following recent events in=
London, but have felt better since concentrating on reading all the=
600+mails which just show how life goes on as usual for all not=
immediately affected by outrageous acts of violence.

I made it down to Aber thanks to Himself driving, after I said I was going=
"no matter what" and him deciding to come to "keep an eye" on me! His fear=
that he would have to pick up the pieces has come about... I have been in=
bed most of the intervening time since being forced to return home early=
last Sunday soon after we saw what came out of Steve's salt kiln. At least=
our early departure meant we were unable to make our adieux to Russel F.=
and Ruth B. from Belgium, May L., Jenny and Steve M. from England, the two=
new clay art names from Boston, USA (sorry, I missed the introductions)=
and finally Avril and Jacqui from Wales. I did manage to say good-bye to=
Katie Mills, who is one of that large unsung army of "Potter's=
Wives/Partners" who to be brutally honest make it all possible for their=
more high-profile menfolk.

A week on and I have spent the whole of today wading through all the=
Clayart mail awaiting attention, but see little in the way of "comment"=
about the event or the individual demonstrations, so I think I had better=
take each day separately and write more as I feel up to it... I have done=
quite a bit already today, so expect this will be as far as I get. So here=

Friday 1st July when everyone arrived and artists/makers were still setting=
up their working areas in the three marquees (i.e big tents). Except the=
two women from Benin who had apparently been working all week and we just=
saw their backs as they were carrying their pots back to the Arts Centre=
from what appeared to have been a straw firing on the kiln field. The Nic=
Collins firing was in progress and a "mad professor" chappy in a straw hat=
was at work on their reconstruction of a17th century kiln... We then went=
inside, so I could show Himself the general layout of the venue and were=
in time to listen to the demonstrators introducing themselves and their=
work (slides) in the main lecture hall.

Please note that we were not a ticket holders because I had no way of=
knowing if I would be well/mobile enough to attend. Well over =A3100 each=
plus travel and overnight expenses (=A350 per night) is quite a=
consideration for people who have not earned a single penny in over 18=
months! So my comments on lectures held in the three venues cannot be=
comprehensive and a lot is "reported speech". I was only able to visit=
tents, potter's working spaces and see the demonstrations from the main=
hall on the video link to the reception area. This was sometimes better=
than what the audience witnessed from sitting much further away and often=
meant I could hear what many missed through artists/potters turning their=
head away from fixed microphones.

It sadly meant that I was unable to see Lucy Casson give her lecture on her=
father's Life and Work and would sincerely urge the organisers to sell=
tickets for individual events in the future. I would also like to point=
out that the provision for people with mobility issues is dire for over=
40% of the Arts Centre and 50% of the Campus. Being greeted with a=
stairlift with a sign "ask at reception" which is then situated a floor up=
was the least problem. The presumption has been made that only wheelchair=
users need ramps and when they are in a wheelchair they have help. This is=
patently no true and I will be writing to the University of Wales to voice=
my grievances in full and vivid detail!

The toil of going up double flights of steps to get to a toilet, let alone=
the cafe, lecture halls, kiln site, workshops, etc. etc. soon began to=
take its toll on my knees, so by Saturday afternoon, I was actually in=
serious trouble. This was compounded by the erratic behaviour of a "friend=
of a (clayart) friend" from Canada, who had me painfully limping around=
the whole building trying to locate her on not one, but three different=
occasions during the day! I really like to think she was blissfully=
unaware of being totally out of order, and really we should recognise the=
symptoms, glazed and distracted eyes, general disorientation and whatnot=
which tend to come to perfectly sane potters when suffering from=
over-exposure to clay plus the immediate vicinity of several hundred other=
clay addicts! LOL!

But that was all to come... The biggest event of Friday evening was the=
presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Awards... The late Leach received=
one (much to my personal surprise, because I do not think he has made the=
same impact or indeed achievements as others during his life by a very=
long chalk). A short acceptance speech was by his son or grandson --=
anyone? I did not catch the name. I actually do not agree with awarding=
honours to the dead, when so many worthy living potters could do with the=
kudos much more, but what the heck? He did make stronger pots than his=
father, so I suppose that "getting out from under" is an achievement in=

The loud whooping noise coming from the foyer was me when the second=
winners were asked to step forward... Frank and Janet Hamer. Now there are=
two people who have certainly enriched every potter's life I know! No=
matter where in the world they live and work, most have a access to their=
"Potter's Dictionary of Materials and Techniques" whether first, second,=
third, fourth or fifth edition and in several languages apart from=
English. I was as please as punch for them!

Anyway, we wandered across the kiln field back to the car and our=
hard-bedded B&B. So much for Day One. Really only a late afternoon and=
evening, but you could feel the excitement already buzzing around... What=
would the weekend bring?

I hope the others will chip in a bit more to add to their great shots of=
the events over the next couple of days...


Janet Kaiser

8 Marine Crescent : Criccieth : GB-Wales LL52 0EA

Plan visiting The International Potters Path?
Contact: Janet Kaiser
Tel: ++44 (01766) 523122

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