Circa 2018 and it’s a hot July summer’s afternoon in Manchester, England. Brunyfire is holed up in an airport hotel having arrived late yesterday from catching up with family in the UK and Switzerland, and is awaiting a flight back home to Tassie in the early hours of tomorrow morning.
Whilst the emphasis for this visit was strictly family, Brunyfire was still able to entice family members out on several pot related excursions. The first was to check out the ‘Earth and Fire International Ceramic Fair’……….……one of the UK’s premier ceramic events that takes place every year in June in North Nottinghamshire on the Welbeck Estate, which houses The Harley Gallery, The Portland Collection and an array of artist studios. As this is near Brunyfire’s partner John’s home in Chesterfield, it was a great opportunity to catch up with some old pottery mates and add a few more pieces to the home collection.
This year’s ‘Earth & Fire’ showcased over 125 potters from across the UK and mainland Europe who came to sell direct to the public from outdoor market stalls. Additionally, there was also an exhibition of work by potter Adam Frew from Northern Ireland in the Harley Gallery.Frew’s expressive ceramics are inspired by cooking and eating, and coastal and rural landscapes. He undertook a 2 year apprenticeship with Lisa Hammond at her Greenwich based pottery – who was also present……..……much to Brunyfire’s delight as she had been lusting after one of Hammond’s coffee plungers since seeing them recently. Brunyfire spent time with Hammond at her London studio and her then apprentice Florian Gadsby, of instagram fame, back in 2015 in preparation for a piece commissioned by ‘Ceramics: Art & Percption’.
Also present at the fair was David Binns…….………who had stayed with us at the Dome several years ago – Brunyfire had also written about his work then, only to find it radically changed at this event. Roger Lewis…….……..was a fellow student with both John and Brunyfire during the 60s in High Wycombe – Lewis does some great, expressive slab pieces.Altogether, some lovely work by a range of artists in all techniques…….…….but Brunyfire particularly loved Daniel Boyle’s salt glazed ware above.
The next highlight was a visit to York to the Centre of Ceramic Art (CoCA) at the York Art Gallery. The Centre houses a stunning collection of British Studio Ceramics, the largest and amongst the most important in the UK that covers the entire British studio ceramics movement. But just as importantly, the Centre hosts changing exhibitions – the most current being a stunning display of work by Dame Lucie Rie entitled ‘Lucie Rie: Ceramics and Buttons’.
Dame Lucie Rie (1902-1995) is one of the most respected potters of the 20th century and was known for her finely thrown and beautifully decorated functional domestic ceramics.Bernard Leach’s words no doubt cut to the quick, but then a comparison of pots, Leach above, and Rie’s below can help decide the viewer’s own mind as to whose pots are preferred – a subjective matter after all….Rie emigrated to the UK during the Second World War and began producing ceramic buttons for the fashion industry, after spotting a gap in the market as many British button factories had been requisitioned for the War effort.Next stop, the village of Walchwil in Zug, Switzerland to stay with more family, highlighted by a visit to the recently refurbished Museum Rietberg which holds an exemplary collection of Chinese ceramics – of which these sumptuous celadons are just a taste. Then finally, back to where this yarn started! In Manchester with a day to kill before the long sit home. So up early and a tram into the city to the Manchester Art Gallery……………..where there is an exhibition of ‘Nordic Craft and Design’ and a show by artist Kate Haywood, whose work was inspired by pieces from the collection in the gallery.
Amongst the pieces from the Nordic show……..…..was a table setting made by Arabia, Finland (2018 – to the left), a Röstrand teapot by Hertha Bengston (1917-1993), a set of beautiful slip cast porcelain cylinders by Bodil Manz (1943-) and in the centre, an Arabia slip cast, bone China vase circa 1996 by Heikka Orvola (1943-). Brunyfire met Orvola at the Arabia factory in Helsinki in 1995 (Brunyfire was an artist in residence at the Arabia and Iittala glass factories) whilst Orvola was developing this piece and worked alongside the head mould maker, Mateo Thun. Thun later came to Tasmania to work at the Tasmanian School of Art in the Ceramic Reasearch Unit.
Lastly, Kate Haywood’s sculptural porcelain which was the result of the gallery’s invitation to Haywood to respond to the eclectic collection of pre-industrial tools, toys, personal accessories and knick-knacks from the collection of Mary Greg.