Monday, October 15, 2012

Entertaining Angels Unawares

Evening Light on the Spring-time garden.

One afternoon 17 or 18 years ago I found that we had visitors, strangers, a couple, maybe 60ish. They came unannounced, but greeted me warmly and explained they had seen a painting of mine that a friend had bought at an exhibition, and they wondered if they could have a look at some more.  

Introducing themselves as Colin and Jeanette, they followed me through to my studio, and I remember how much I enjoyed their company.  Both asked interesting and intelligent questions, and actually gave me time to answer (not everyone does!), and it was fun pulling out paintings for them to look at.  They also seemed interested in my process of painting, and I took them into the innermost part of my studio, where I really worked, and talked to them about the egg tempera painting and encaustic wax painting that I was doing at the time. In their company I immediately felt encouraged and valued as a person and an artist.

Colin Gibson
Of course I was interested to know who they were.  Colin's name seemed vaguely familiar, and he did mention that he did some hymn writing, and I had a feeling that I had probably sung one or two of them at the local Presbyterian Church.

Anyway, one thing lead to another, and they did buy a painting from me, and quite late in the visit I found out that Colin was involved in some capacity at Otago University in the English Department.

"The Royal Hunt of the Sun", encaustic wax painting by Peter Gregory.

Later..., I discovered that Colin was Professor of English at the time and was well known for his hymn music.  Jeanette also was a highly accomplished and creative person, some time I would love to put a photo or two on the blog of her exquisite needlework.

Anyway, over the years, Colin and Jeanette have been a great encouragement to us, and I have come to think of them as my Dunedin family.  I often think about my first visit from them, and how they were friends right from the start, not boasting of their importance, or making me feel small.  In life we are very lucky when we meet people in that way, with no obstacles of status, qualifications, or title put in the way.

One of the large pots in the last wood firing was especially important, as Colin commissioned me to make it for Jeanette's 80th birthday.  Two weeks ago we had a delightful visit from Colin and Jeanette, and their son Marcus.


We had a little birthday celebration for Jeanette (somewhat past the actual date, but at 80 a few weeks of celebrating is well deserved!).
I hope it is a large chocolate Easter egg.... !

I was nervous about the pot, commissions are not easy, but they seemed delighted with it, and Marcus sent me a lovely photo of the pot now at home where Jeanette can enjoy it.

The pot, in its new home.  Photo Marcus Gibson.

Another unexpected pleasure has been the result of a visit I had one afternoon recently.  Mostly, when people ask if I give lessons, I say "no". This is because I really don't have the space available in my studio to teach, or to store student's work, and I am not sure if I really have the time.  However, after saying "no", this time I then said a cautious "yes", and what was going to be teaching two girls some lessons to help them get started on the potter's wheel, has become a lesson for them, their younger brother, and their mother.

I find myself really looking forward to the time that I have with them on a Sunday afternoon.  It is very good having people in the studio enjoying working with clay, and rapidly making things. I feel happier, I even think that this Old Post Office building seems happier!

In some respects having others working with clay in my studio is like having extra pairs of eyes and hands to discover more things that can be done with clay, more than I would ever find out with only my hands and eyes.

I think that teaching is not only about what I can pass on to someone else, but the most important part is located in what we can discover together.

"Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." Hebrews 13.2 (King James Bible).


Linda Starr said...

How nice to have a visit from your long time friends and patrons. I absolutely love your paining.

Linda Starr said...

should be painting, Ha.

cookingwithgas said...

how wonderful and sweet- treasures for sure both human and art.

Judy Shreve said...

What a delightful post! Love hearing that a painting of yours encouraged such a long friendship -- and now you are making those connections with the young folks you are teaching!

I love your painting!

madpotter1 said...

Thank you so much for posting your thoughts and stories of visitors in the studio. So many time I shut the door, maybe I will open it a crack!

Michèle Hastings said...

Such a heart warming post! Your painting is beautiful, I don't think I had ever seen one of your painting on the blog.

Peter said...

Hi Linda,
Good to hear from you. I do love the "paining", that is a useful word that would cover anything from Harold (the neighbour's rooster) crowing at an early hour or digging up Laura's spring garden, to me complaining about impossible deadlines, or pots that won't dry, or dry too fast!!

Hi Meredith,
people have been so kind to us over the years, and it is good to think of them and treasure the time.

Hi Judy,
Whilst we are a bit isolated here, the love and support that friends have given us over the years has been really special, and several of those friendships have started through someone being interested in the paintings or pots that we do.

Hi Madpotter1,
Lovely to hear from you. I've just been enjoying a visit to your site. Opening the door is a risk of course..., but shutting it completely is a tragedy! Our "door" does creak on its hinges here at times, and we find it hard to strike the right balance between being consumed by work and deadlines, or being a friend to someone else. I hate having to make that sort of a choice!

Hi Michele,
Thank you for that. Ah, those paintings... There are a few of them dotted around my blog, but I haven't posted many of them at all, and they are rather hard to find. The bulk of my work as a painter was never properly photographed as it happened in the days before computers and digital cameras descended on this household. When I finally do get round to putting up some permanent pages on this blog (something I am working towards), I'll try to include a little gallery of some of our older work with a few more of my paintings in there somewhere.

Angie said...

What a lovely post ...both groups of visitors seem to have been good for you.I am glad you said yes to teaching that family. xx

Julia said...

My pottery students quickly become valued friends and creative partners. I have had students for over 15 years; I have learned more from some of them (particularly the children) than I could ever teach them. :)

I really enjoy my visits to your blog, by the way!

Peter said...

Hello Angie,
Thank you for that! We are fortunate with friends, and you never do know who you might meet when you open the door!

Hi Julia,
It is great that you have been so open to taking students, pottery does seem to be the sort of activity that it is good to share with others. Lovely that they have become friends and creative partners. Really glad you enjoy the blog, thanks for the encouragement.

Armelle said...

Hello Peter,
Sorry to expose you to unwanted spams, yes it's possible now to post a comment.
Nice to see your new graphism on your blog. The smiles of your friends, the nice big jug you made for them in its new home.
Your young students look as beautiful as angels, really. I think I will try a new blog, as most of my english speackers friends have security settings, and I cannot post on their blogs.

Best wishes from France

Peter said...

Hello Armelle,
Good that you are able to leave comments here again, sorry for the problem with the security settings.

The trouble I have had recently is when I allow the blog to take anonymous comments I do start getting spam comments. Most of these are caught by a spam filter before they get published, which is good, but the people (or machines) that send these things are becoming clever. I notice that your comments include your name and URL,so,in theory... your comments should have been able to get through when I blocked the anonymous ones. Not sure what went on there, but I will allow anonymous again for a while, and we will see how things work out!

Technology is most frustrating sometimes!!

Glad that you like the new look of the blog, merci beaucoup!

Best Wishes, P

Pat - Arkansas said...

Hello, Dear Peter, Laura and kitties -- It's been a long time since I've visited, but I'm happy to see that you are still making such glorious pots. I am sure your friend Jeanette is loving her gift, as well she should; it's very, very beautiful.

I have a lot of catching up to do with your older posts, a pleasure to which I look forward.

Wishing you a happy Spring. - Pat, Arkansas

Peter said...

Dear Pat,
Absolutely delighted to hear from you again, we have been missing you! Never sure if the times under comments are your local time when they were sent, or our time here, but I hope you were sleeping at 3.09AM your time! Yes, making pots continues, and I really do want to make more large ones on a similar scale to Jeanette's one, it was a challenge to make and to fire, but a very satisfying one. Today is work on a more humble scale...,it is mugs...cups... glaze testing and more mugs!
Very Best Wishes to you from all of us here,
Peter, Laura, Nigella Stopit, and Ginger xx

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter,
What a heart-warming blog post I just read. How delightful for you to have the opportunity to touch so beautifully the lives of others.
I'm sure the children appreciate the lessons.
It is easy to be 'friends right from the start' around both yourself and Laura. I have found that I've been made to feel like a friend whenever I've been in your company. Thank you for that.
It was good to see you at Rhonda's party, although you'd gone before I realised. Maybe next time I'm down your way I'll call in to see you.
I hope Nigella is doing all right now.
Blessings to you and Laura,
Sue H

Angie said...

Just popped back when I realised you had not posted for 3 weeks ...hope you are all well.
I also realised that I forgot to say how amazing your painting was. xx

Peter said...

Dear Sue,
Lovely to hear from you, thank you for your kind thoughts. It was nice to see you at the party. Do pop in when you are down this way again, it would be great to catch up properly. Sometimes parties are too busy to really get to talk!
P & L xx

Hi Angie,
Good to hear from you.
We're all still alive and kicking I am glad to report. Sorry for the long silence, a new blog post is really overdue. I'll try to get one out over the next couple of days. Craft show this weekend, starting tomorrow, so has been a busy week.