Monday, 23 March 2009
Pots For the Kitchen From the Shed!
A couple of weeks ago, I had to be in Stratford on Avon for a meeting, and it occurred to me to contact potter and blogger Matt Grimmit, who lives in Evesham, not too many miles further on.
As some readers may recall, I was once a potter, made my living that way for a lot of years in three different countries, and to my knowledge, pots made by me are in at least twenty-three countries.
Somehow, I had lost my way, and became disillusioned, -I suppose it was the growing realisation that there would always be people who balked at paying a fair price for a hand-made piece, yet would pay significant money for mass-produced stuff, bashed out by a machine, by the thousand.
But in recent times, I've been more and more drawn back to a craft I love, to the act of creating things out of clay that will last for centuries. And I miss the people too. Potters are of many differing sorts, they make all manners of wares, some call themselves ceramicists, and ceramic artists, I'm not so concerned with those, but more with the artisans, the true potters who feel themselves to be part of a community.
I love to see ancient pots, and see in them the indents left by a maker's hands, and I know, I can see the moves he made, the grips, the finger positions, I know that that roman and I would, in the absence of words, have a common language.
Matt Grimmitt is one such potter. Although his great-great grandfather was a country potter, who worked at Winchcombe pottery, and taught a great deal to Micheal Cardew, Matt was no potter, he was at one time, a pro-skateboarder, then worked for a food distribution company.
Three or so years ago, he took a pottery course, and was hooked on clay. It is hard to believe that he started so recently.
I'd seen Matt's blog, "Pots for the Kitchen From the Shed", and liked what I saw there. So I'd emailed him, had his reply, and thought, if I could go on to Evesham, we could meet, and I could buy a pot from him. So it was, I thought, I'll turn up late morning, see some pots, go for a pub lunch and a pint, then set off on the road north again.
I arrived about eleven to a smiling welcome, and a pot of tea, out to the back to visit the pottery... which proves you can work in a small space and get results. What a treat, what a pleasure to see Matt's collection of pots, works by friends, bric-a-brac store finds, ancient shards from a welsh stream, and to hear his enthusiasm for the craft. Matt's work is both uniquely his own, and also deeply grounded in the olde-english slipware traditions, you can see in his shapes, decorations, the curve of a handle, the detail of a rim, echoes of mediaeval shapes, and when he talks about them, it is clear he is amassing a deep resource of knowledge, from many sources, which give him a core set of beliefs, a knowledge of his place in this art, he is constantly learning and experimenting, and his pots show a spirit and liveliness that many much longer established potters would struggle to attain.
Matt's partner, Tig, shares his enthusiasm, which is a good thing, because their home is a treasure chest of pottery, (and a workshop too, the living-room is used as workspace too). Their crafts sit side by side, in harmony, Tig grows and sells plants, and also makes delicious smelling soaps, which I have two goody bags of, packaged in small hessian sacks, they smell and look so good it seems like sacrilege to actually wash with them.
Websites: Matt "Pots for the Kitchen From the Shed"
Tig "Future Primitive" blog, and her very impressive and beautifully displayed Online Shop.
We talked and talked, more tea, Tig came home and joined us, we had lunch off slipware plates, more tea... (great stuff, tea, the fuel of the british!)... We talked of pots and potters, and places where evidence of past makers surfaces in ploughed fields, of roman tiles, and villas...
Amongst all the pots in the room I spotted a small pink pig! sadly, I failed to photograph it, but using the skills I have copied from Antiques Roadshow, I was able to identify it as a genuine Gary Rith pig!
Yes, a pottery pig made by the great Gary Rith, potter, blogger, jokester, of Ithaca, N.Y., another guy I'd love to visit.
Gary's blog never fails to make me smile, he is just so full of enthusiasm and good humour... um humor, I mean. I like the fact that Gary is deeply unpretentious, and a great antidote to the over-serious, self- reverent "ceramicists". His pots too are truly his own, speaking of skill and enjoyment, but most of all, a sense of fun. His work is populated by pink pigs, zebras, beagles.....
When we decided to go to a pub, that was when I discovered I'd left my lights on for the last few hours. Luckily, I carry a set of jump-leads... and the Land Rover carries a second battery, to power the winch... (which my feet are resting on as I type, I keep meaning to strip it down and fix it back on the front end).
I'd expected a brief visit, yet it was nine hours after I arrived that I set off northwards again, with my purchases, and also some gifts, much appreciated.
It's the first time (Apart from my beloved) that I'd met anyone i've encountered in the artificial world of the internet. And I'm so glad I did. I felt as though I'd known them for ages, and was amongst friends, which seems strange, based on this medium of the blogworld, yet for whatever reason, it's true.
Thank you again, Matt and Tig, for a very enjoyable day.