My photographs fall into two main categories: landscape and human. I attempt to capture the sense of curiosity and fascination I have for the landscapes I am exploring as I search for clay and glaze materials. I want to convey the beauty a place has; it’s form, the light, the natural habitats and living things there, the layers there are – historic activity now only hinted at by a bank, ditch, soil heap…. and also the materials present that I may be able use to make small batches of ceramics. As I explore these places, I also wish to record the people who help me, either with the offer of access to materials, or in allowing me to capture their specific connection to the work I am pursuing – recently that has been through baking….. The photographs set the context for my work, setting the scene that the pots alone cannot achieve.
My connection with pancheons starts with a visit to the Piece Hall in Halifax, in 1985. There was a stall selling these beautiful, functional bowls for a few quid a piece, and I came away with two – one for my parents and one for me. I have treasured this bowl ever since. During my meanderings and exploration of Isaac Button’s old workshop site north of Halifax, I found rim shards from broken pancheons identical to mine, scattered around the area and along the bridleway that led down from the site (which was then being converted into apartments – or so I was told). The classic still photograph taken from John Anderson’s 1966 film, Isaac Button Country Potter, shows Isaac carrying a ware board with five medium pancheons – again identical to the one I bought all those years ago. Given that these forms were not stamped with a makers mark – I can only guess – or hope that, mine is one from this iconic workshop.
My pancheons are made primary from locally sourced, hand-dug clay (earthenware and stoneware), and echo the traditional forms associated with bread making, dairying and general home use (washing etc.) that were made in the centuries before plastics, pressed steel and other cheaper, more durable alternatives became widely available. They come in a variety of sizes, most commonly with a diameter of 35 cm and a height of around 15 cm.
We are showing the beautiful, evocative film Isaac Button Country Potter at a special film night at Dean Clough, Halifax on Wednesday 23rd November 2016 – starting at 7.30 PM (gathering around 7 PM)….. Filmed between 1964 and 1965 by John Anderson and Robert Fournier, we will be showing the full film in best digital format, on loan from the Yorkshire Film Archive. It should be a great evening, with John Hudson a potter from Mirfield (with huge knowledge and experience of the local ceramic traditions in the area – and beyond), coming along to say a few words and a chance for those gathered to share their own stories / connections. We have invited artists, potters, farmers, teachers / headteachers, lecturers, bakers, archaeologists….. hoping they will come along to explore the links between them all on the night.
RSVP please to let us know how many might be coming along – firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to everyone who came along to Dean Clough in Halifax for the opening of the Autumn / Winter shows – including my show in the Link Gallery; Lost and Found (which now runs through to January 22nd 2017). It was great to see many of the people who helped me with the project; Mick – who let me dig his clay, Aaron and Victoria – who let me photograph their favourite baking bowl, John – whose knowledge for ceramics / pots and their uses over time with a connection to food is an inspiration……. It was great to have family and friends there (thanks for making the journey you all). I am also very grateful to Vic Allen at Dean Clough for giving me the opportunity at DC and to the Yorkshire Film Archive (YFA) for agreeing to lease me the wonderful Isaac Button photographs taken by John Anderson in 1964…..
And on this…. We are hosting a film night on Wednesday 23rd November (7.30 pm) to show Isaac Button Country Potter by John Anderson and Robert Fournier (1965), which we have also leased from the YFA – who have been incredibly helpful and supportive to this end. If you would like to come along – do let us know.
The last two years of investigating Clee Hill have led me to a number of clay sources. The fireclay from near the village of Clee Hill has provided the richest material; firing to deep dark reds and purples at stoneware temperatures. The sources recently sampled from the other side of the hill are proving to be full of opportunity too, firing well to stoneware temperatures, but being pale, “brick” clays. One fires to an ochrous range of tones, with an iron speckle, the other to more of a buff, grey tinged with apricot range. All of these clays shrink pretty dramatically (around 10%), and are also somewhat erratic – firing to subtly different shades in the same kiln, set for the same firing cycle / temperature etc.