Saturday 24 September 2011

Origin - in Turbulent Times

The Autumn Equinox has brought with it an atmospheric change. An economic year of bumbling along, sort of hoping things might improve has suddenly blown up into a maelstrom of recrimination, anxiety, market chaos and talk of recession round two. Origin, now in the beating heart of trendy art-world East London, oozed confidence by contrast. It hummed with activity which, I hope, was an indicator of people deciding to spend money on well made, long lasting objects they would love.

Origin is vast, overwhelming in some respects. You can't look at everything unless you have all day and a substantial reserve of energy. I go there for the ceramics and, to some extent I notice the metalwork and furniture too. Jewellery, textiles and sundry other weird-looking accessories interest me not one jot and, these days, with limited time, I simply edit out of my vision all that does not immediately engage. This year, I looked only at the ceramics and, for the first time, bought things. It's my new project -  kick-starting the economy.

Sophie Woodrow's porcelain dream-world beasts made an enticing reception committee. With hollow eyes and strangely clad in unlikely costumes, they stood on their hind legs, those that had them, and stared and I stared back. An owl with antlers, covered in miniature toad-stools, a bull with a lowered head and large bow, hedgehog-like creatures and rabbity things - all called out mournfully for attention. It was astonishingly affecting and surprising too  -  a relief not to encounter more of the vicious bunnies intended to subvert or shock but, instead, something quietly and genuinely moving.

Aneta Regel-Deleu had a gorgeous collection of new work - weird bone-like structures, half live, human, and growing but also surreal and anything but human, in their skins of ferocious-coloured glaze - matt powdery pink, bright orange gloss and vicious yellow.

Then came the tableware, which is where I got out my debit card. First stop, Sun Kim, her sleek, oatmeal coloured stoneware has evolved into a fine collection of supremely elegant tableware. I sulked when I found no mugs with handles. 'A disastrous firing,' she explains, and promises me mugs at her forthcoming open studio. I make a mental note to reserve enough money for one of her teapots too. On to Linda Bloomfield's stall where a lovely new lemon yellow glaze attracts me and I buy a mug, tall and straight. She's also developed a new mushroom coloured glaze. 'Men didn't buy my work until I made the 'grey,' she explains.' She's talking to a woman from London Potters Association who's taking copious notes and questioning every potter closely, particularly about sales. Origin, according to Linda, delivers the goods. Hooray! So I'm not the only one determined to kick our sluggish economy up the ass then.

Finally, it's Chis Keenan. Lately he's been making delicious Temmoku glazed work with sky blue insides and sure enough - he has mugs. Mugs! Proper mugs with handles - he's one for the Japanese aesthetic which is all very fine if you're Japanese but I'm English, very English, and I like a good stout mug for tea, brown tea - and I've always had my doubts about blue with brown. However, to my surprise, I find myself selecting a mug with a handle and buying it. Someone had asked him to put a handle on a tea-bowl apparently - and damn sound advice it was too. I don't hold with this tea-bowl nonsense. The colour is gorgeous. Ok, so the Temmoku is a wee bit marmitey and the handle's a bit fussy - Keenan's a tad over-crafted for my tastes but this is proper mug-shaped mug and I wasn't going to pass up on the opportunity - I do love that black/ blue mix. I needn't have worried about the blue / brown tea look. It works perfectly. The tea just reaches up near the rim where the black of the Temmoku is bleeding into the blue and it's just exactly right. Looks like a turbulent Autumn day in fact. Slurrrp. That's better - and silky smooth too, enough to calm the most jittery nerves, even those of the markets.


Linda B said...

Thank you for buying a mug.

Anonymous said...

Well, teabowls were designed for making a brew of green(ish) liquid made and served at 60-70 degrees C. No handles required. Anyone trying to drink hot and brown from one deserves the fingers burned.
Whereas a brew of brown British, made in a stoneware teapot that never sees the inside of a dishwasher but is simply emptied so that a tasty patina builds inside, needs a stout mug with a great, usually wide, handle that keeps the curled finger close yet not so close that too much heat transfers, is indeed hard to find .
Just found your blog and will be back...