Sunday, December 25, 2016

Happy Christmas 2016

My blog has probably disappeared off Google's radar due to my posting so infrequently. In spite of my silence, I haven't quite forgotten the world of potters and others that blog, and am thankful for the friendships that have sprung up and have been nurtured by this electronic means!

The recovery from the shoulder surgery I had on 10 October, has been more of a roller coaster ride than I would have hoped, in part due to the fact that I developed a frozen shoulder as a complication to the surgery. Night time discomfort has resulted in very poor sleep for the last 10 weeks, which is mostly why I haven't posted on the blog, I often haven't been able to think clearly enough.. In any case, I don't really want this to be a blog full of aches and pains and medical misadventures!

The poppy on the "card" that I put at the start of this post is a plant that is giving me a lot of pleasure at the moment. The petals are paper thin and grey with a red stripe. The flowers only last for a day and I marvel at their beauty and fragility. I love them for taking the trouble to look so lovely, even though their life is so short and apparently inconsequential.

There seems to me to be a Demand on artist in these times to make Art that has a Point to it, it makes a Statement, it seeks to Do something, to have Reason, to be a Voice, to Upset, to Innovate, to have a Brand! I use capitals for these things, because such art hits me about the head and causes it to ache and my soul to shrink and despair.

I am reminded by the poppy that there is value in no value, meaning in no meaning, point in no point!

For me one of the defining qualities of great art, be it literature, painting, music, dance, or what ever, is that it transports us to a place of the soul that is non verbal, boundless, eternal, transcendent.

Happy Christmas!


smartcat said...

Ah, the age-old argument of the purpose of art. When we finish with that one we can discuss just what art is anyway! (Feelin' the snark a bit!)

Good Yule to you and all your family!

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear you and your country are on the mend after bouncing around a bit this year. On to 2017! May it be a better year for all!

Linda Starr said...

happy christmas to you and your family, what is that flower, it is lovely

Melissa Rohrer said...

I've been there with the frozen shoulder. Sorry to hear about that. I had a laugh at your words about meaning and art. Sometimes I find the need to drench art with meaning comes across as a bit pompous. Other times, I must admit, I feel intimidated. Wishing the best for you in the coming year.

Arkansas Patti said...

So sorry your shoulder has given you such fits Peter. I had a torn rotator cuff and that bugger kept me miserable entirely too long. I feel your pain, especially about sleeping. It will get better Peter, honest.
I hope you, Laura and Stopit had a Merry Christmas and that 2017 will be a prosperous and healthy one for you all.

Peter said...

Hi Smartcat,
I do like the little Santa thumbnail photo that came with your comment! "What is art?" I think that I will have to take a leaf out of the "Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy" and say the answer is probably "42"!

Hi Anonymous,
I agree with your sentiments entirely! Best Wishes for 2017!

Hi Linda,
Happy New Year! The flower is a poppy.

Hi Melissa,
Sorry you also have had a frozen shoulder, not much fun at all! Many years ago we used to subscribe to an Art magazine, and had the feeling that we had to... in order to stay up with the play! After a year we cancelled the subscription, the magazine made me angry and depressed, and we took out a subscription to the Wooden Boat Magazine. This was truly therapeutic, and the stories of people lovingly restoring old boats was inspirational, and gave me some sort of faith and optimism about life, craft, art, and the importance of working with hands and mind, and of doing things well!

Hi Patti,
Lovely to hear from you Patti, and for the encouragement. It is silly how such a small thing as a shoulder joint can have the capacity to create havoc. Our cat is like that too! She is currently protesting having to eat "Classic Lamb", instead of her preferred Tuna! She is expressing her dissatisfaction circling me as I write, and periodically sitting in front of the computer monitor. Happy New Year!

Melissa Mead said...

Love you post - you are so right :) Get better soon and be patient with that shoulder

Peter said...

Hi Melissa,
Good to hear from you. I will try to be a patient patient, but am not always very good at it! :-) Glad to say that some progress is being made!
Happy New Year to you!

Michèle Hastings said...

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
I hope that your shoulder is getting better. You may remember that I suffered a rotator cuff injury a few years back. It's the worse pain imaginable and getting any comfortable sleep is nearly impossible.

Anonymous said...

We really hope 2017 will be a good one (at least better than 2016) for you and Laura. The fleeting glory of the poppy can lift the soul just as a great work of art can. Art without it true art when aimed at nothing but innocent recreation (to quote C S Lewis)? Ultimately I'm not too concerned as long as I am uplifted or inspired by it. Take heart from all your friends like us and those above who love you both and only wish you a full you can use your full talents again! Graham & Amanda

Peter said...

Hi Michèle,
It is good to hear from you. Happy New Year! It is lovely to see you potting after having a shoulder injury a few years back. I'm finding lack of sleep is proving to be one of the biggest problems now as it has gone on so long that it is dragging my health down.

Hello Graham & Amanda,
Thank you for your kind and thoughtful support and encouragement, we are so fortunate to have good friends like yourselves to help us through this. Art.... I remember once browsing happily through a book about trees. Every tree in the book seemed to have a use, timber for building houses, boats, fine furniture, fence posts, matches, and so on..., the one exception was the Horse Chestnut tree (Aesculus hippocastanum), the timber was said to be not much good for building, it did not even burn well, and the fruit was unpalatable! Yet the tree is planted and treasured because it is gloriously beautiful. I was overjoyed to find a "useless" tree in this book of "useful" ones! I wanted to adopt a Horse Chestnut as a symbol of art! Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Might I most 'umbly suggest Conkers as a use for 'umble and aforesaid tree?....Graham

Peter said...

Ha, ha, yes you certainly can! Conkers were very much part of playground fun when I was at primary school. We used to prepare them for battle by soaking them overnight in vinegar. There were complicated rules for scoring fights, and some conkers had amazing longevity, still continuing to win fights long after most of the shell had departed from the pale and slightly brain-like interior!

Anna said...

Hi Peter, I've only just caught your post.. so Happy New Year to you and Laura and good health in 2017. I grew my first poppies this year... just the ordinary yellow and pink ones but they made me smile.

Peter said...

Hi Anna,
Happy New year to you too! Poppies do cheer things up! I am amazed with the one that I took the photo of as it is still keeping on producing new flowers in spite of me nearly killing it by mistake whilst attempting to use the lawn mower with one hand only!

James Tinker said...

Hello Peter

I am a hobbyist potter and have been reading about medieval history and came across your site. Well I haven't even started making pottery yet, but I'm getting there. Being interested in self sufficiency I have been focusing on harvesting and processing my own clay, and now looking towards building a stove.

A wood fired all in one stove that could fire bricks, earthenware and stoneware would obviously be ideal, but maybe it's a little far fetched.

From reading a bit about pottery history I can see the Germans started making stoneware during Tudor times and selling it to us, so clearly they had kilns capable of say 1300C. Have you come across these sorts of kilns in your time. Their kilns may be a little large for my purposes. I want to stick a real small version only say 3-4ft in width and height in my garden.

Many thanks from London

James Tinker

Peter said...

Hi James,
It is good to hear from you and nice to see your enthusiasm for clay and self sufficiency. I see that you are from the London area, and I am not sure if you would be up against "clean air" type regulations if you tried to build and fire a kiln in your garden? There are some wonderful potters in the UK who fire with wood, and it would be great for you to be able to see a wood fired kiln in action. It is also possible that there may be a pottery club near you that have a small wood fired kiln? Maybe your local library would be able to put you in touch with a pottery club?

Regarding small woodfired kilns for stoneware temperatures, 3 -4 feet in width and height, it is not impossible, but very difficult. Generally, wood fired kilns work better if they are larger than that, wood develops long flames, and they need physical space to develop. If you want something really small that is not gas or electric, you would be better with charcoal or coke (if you can still get it).

You can certainly experiment with simple kilns made out of ordinary house bricks that will get you to earthenware temperatures, but you really need more "serious" materials to fire to stoneware.

There are some excellent books about kiln building using modern materials such as insulating firebrick, Joe Finch wrote a useful one

Good Luck!