Currently we are building up a body of work for our 6th online exhibition which goes live in a couple of weeks. We have been working hard to get pots to various places that need them and to get pieces together for this and we are almost there. The photographer is booked, the pots are mainly not still lumps of clay though there are a few exceptions. We are trying not to work ourselves into the ground this year, we’re not as young as we were, but it’s hard when you absolutely want to give something your all. We are always looking at the pots that we making and working out how they can better, what the next batch will have that this doesn’t. It’s an important thing to do for us, we don’t want to be repeating things exactly the same for ever. We may, and indeed often do, revisit forms or decorative patterns but they are always worked with the knowledge of the last time, a fluency perhaps that has evolved through the making or the profile of the piece altered slightly to give more grace or more fullness of belly. They are never exactly the same as the last time and the intuitive learning can only come by moving clay through your fingers time and time and time again.
The exhibition, Fitch and McAndrew Online VI will go live on our website at 7pm GMT on Friday 12th November. We are happy to ship worldwide and can get quotes together for you if you are interested. The pots will be put together in an online catalogue along with images of the workshop, the pots in process and hopefully small films of the pieces too. All the pots will then be listed in our online shop here on the website.
When I write it like that it seems so straightforward, fingers crossed it will all happen smoothly with no technical hitches.
We are very honoured to have been asked to be a part of what looks like it will be a beautiful exhibition at Gallery 1673 in Stroud. This is an exhibition of contemporary earthenware slipware by ten of Britain’s leading potters:
- Patia Davis
- Nigel Lambert
- Russell Kingston
- Hannah McAndrew
- Doug Fitch
- Dylan Bowen
- Paul Jessop
- Josie Walter
- Ben Fosker
- Paul Young
The exhibition opens on Saturday October 2nd at 10am in the gallery and online on Monday 4th at 7pm. It is open until the 17th October
I am raising money for this much needed charity, FareShare, who aim to fight hunger and tackle food waste in the UK. While doing this I also wish to highlight the issue of racism that reared it’s ugly head during the Euro2020 tournament.
Image: Hannah McAndrew with ‘This is England‘ Charger. Image credit: Shannon Tofts.
Why did I make this pot?
I made this piece in response to the racial abuse received by the three England players who missed their penalty kicks during the Euro 2020 final.
Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka did their best under huge pressure, only to be subjected to a barrage of abuse due to the colour of their skin.
I’m not a football fan, I’m happy to admit it, and I now live in Scotland, but I was taken by the conduct of the English team in this Euro 2020 tournament. They have taken a very clear and united stand against racism both on and off the field. From what I can see, football teams have huge influence with their supporters, so using their privileged position to send out this powerful message of tolerance and inclusion to fans of all ages can only be a good thing.
About the charger
The illustration of lions on slipware pottery is nothing new. These three lions, combine a nod to the England team crest, with influences derived from the immense and intricate chargers by Thomas Toft in the late 17th Century. I made it using a mixture of slip trailing and paper resist techniques and it has a rich honey glaze which gives the slip colours a deep warmth and vibrancy.
The rim has been divided into thirteen sections, each filled with slip trailed cross hatched lines. The thirteen sections represent the total number of other countries that members of the Euro 2020 England squad were qualified to play for, because of their connections with those countries. Instead they chose to represent England. I purposely chose black as the colour for these lions.
Who am I?
I have been a potter for over twenty years and have built up an international reputation for making highly decorated pots within this genre. I was recently accepted as a Fellow of the Craft Potters Association.
Slipware is my passion and my obsession. I love to decorate pots and spend many hours covering surfaces in intricate patterns and imagery. This piece is unique. I make large chargers regularly; I love the wide surface and the potential that has for holding decoration. This is the only one of this design, though I could have sold it many times over when I exhibited it at a large pottery festival and when it was first shown on the internet. I wanted to hold it back to try to do something bigger with it.
The title of the piece, ‘This is England‘ is borrowed from the poignant dialogue performance by Stormzy, Dave and Ian Wright during the TV coverage of Euro 2020.
In particular the lines ‘the past can’t hurt us. The future can inspire us. This is England, modern England’.
Who will benefit from your support?
The charity that I want to support by offering this pot in the prize draw is FareShare. FareShare is a charity network aimed at relieving food poverty and reducing food waste in the UK. It was established in 1994. FareShare obtains good quality, surplus food from the food industry that would otherwise have gone to waste, and sends it to almost 11,000 charity and community groups across the United Kingdom.
England International footballer Marcus Rashford has been an ambassador of FareShare since March 2020.
Since then, he has:
-Helped raise enough money to enable FareShare to distribute the equivalent of over 21 million meals for children and families who might not otherwise eat
-Raised awareness of child hunger in the UK, driving the issue to the top of the news agenda
-Launched and spearheaded the Child Food Poverty Taskforce, a group of more than 15 organisations that FareShare is a founding member of, which have come together to support the National Food Strategy and share real-time statistics and stories of those affected by child hunger in the UK
-Successfully influenced government policy:
-With his #MakeTheUTurn campaign, which saw the voucher scheme – a replacement for free school meals through the lockdown – extended over the summer, ensuring 1.3 million vulnerable children could continue to access food
-In November, after campaigning by the Child Food Poverty Taskforce, Government announced a Winter Package to support the UK’s most vulnerable children through the winter until Easter 2021.
How do I enter the prize draw?
The prize draw will go live at 19:40 BST on Thursday September 2nd 2021 on the Crowdfunder website. This is the time that the England football team will take the knee in their international match with Hungary. The prize draw will then run for three weeks.
By buying at least one entry at £10 you will be entered into the prize draw. If you buy multiple entries you stand a higher chance of winning. To enter you must select one of the entry reward options on this page. You can also enter the prize draw without donating by post. See terms and conditions for details. By donating and entering the prize draw you agree to the terms and conditions.
I would like to use this pot to help this charity to continue the fight to eliminate food poverty across the UK, whilst drawing attention to the ever prominent issue of racism.
Thank you for helping me to support this great and essential work.
Well, we only went and did it. Our first in the flesh as it were pottery show since November 2019. Potfest by the Lake at the beautiful Compton Verney was a joy. Thank you immensely to Matt Cox the organiser and all that were involved in the setting up and running of the show. The stands were placed in such a way that people weren’t having to stand on top of each other and yet we were able to converse with potters and public alike and catch up on much missed social interaction.
Charger For Our Times II. Photo credit: James Hazlewood.
To all of you who visited the show, a sell out on each day, thank you for supporting it and all the potters that attended it with your interest and custom. We can’t keep making pots if people don’t buy them and we are always grateful and appreciative of those who enjoy what we do. We sold a lot of pots and even delivered a late decision purchase once we were in Devon after the show!
A section of our display. Photo credit: Wendy Kershaw.
The kids had a lovely time there, space to run about, places to explore, people to talk to and in Pippin’s case, pots to sell. She had been making a whole batch of pots that she wanted to sell at the market and decided to give the proceeds to the local food bank in Castle Douglas. She raised £70 which is wonderful and we will take her to deliver it next week.
We had a couple of days in Devon after the show, to visit the big boys, Luke and Joe. A joy to see them with the little ones and great to see the pair of them too. Then back home to a garden that has turned into a jungle in the time we have been away and a making list a mile long as we have been offered a space at the next and most local Potfest show at Hutton in the Forest, just down the road by Penrith. By local I mean it’s an hour and a half away but frankly that is close. We are looking forward to it, we have been showing at Potfest in the Park for a number of years, in fact Hannah has been doing Potfest shows in Penrith since 2003 I think it was. It will be lovely to be going back again.
To those who read our blog on the odd occasion that we actually get the opportunity to update it, thank you. It’s a regular conversation that we need to use this more but of course time is always the thing that is in short supply and inevitably this falls by the wayside.
Large plates slip trailed with flowers inspired by a small William Staite Murray vase. Image credit Shannon Tofts.
We are however busy making pots. We have had the realisation that Pippin starts school in August so our days of being able to down tools and head off for an afternoon picnic in the woods or a paddle at the loch or to build castles at the beach are becoming limited. So we have made the decision to grab those opportunities whenever we can while we can. They are, as everyone tells us, only small for such a short period of time.
We have just taken part in The Ceramics Congress, an entirely online event run over about 4 days, 24 hours a day, none stop pottery and clay wonder. We are hooked on it! We produced a film for the event which was, we only now discover, the opening film of it. The Congress is full of pre recorded demonstrations and workshops by a myriad of fabulous users of clay from around the world each followed by an hour or so of live Q and As with the makers. This year had Felicity Aylieff, Slava Leontyev Ukraine, Steven Edwards UK, Jin Eui Kim UK, Gedion Fernadez from Peru, KC Adams Canada, Craig Underhill, Ann Van Hoey Belgium, Rodolfo Sanchez Fierro from Mexico, Takeshi Yasuda UK/Japan. Oh honestly I would be here all night listing them all, each one passionate and generous in their sharing of techniques, tricks, traditions, materials and tools.
The Congress films will all shortly be available to find on The Ceramics School website where you can pay to view one or join and watch all as and when you fancy. Once that is all up and running with the 2021 films I will try to post the link on here too.
Now we are working hard to make new pots for Potfest by the Lake, a new Potfest show which will be held at Compton Verney in Warwickshire on June 25th, 26th and 27th. This is a brand new venue to add to the lovely Potfest family. We are looking forward to and somewhat nervous about our first physical show since November 2020, 20 months ago! For anyone interested in visiting Potfest by the Lake, or any of the other Potfest shows, tickets must be booked in advance (Covid of course) and can be booked on the Potfest website, link above. Pippin has been working hard too bless her.
We have lots of new pots ready to pack up and bring with us. We hope to see some of you there.
Trio of large applied decoration jugs. Image credit Shannon Tofts.
We’ve not got many pots made in recent days, because we’ve had a builder in the workshop. He’s built a new hearth ready to fit a wood burner, which will go in next week. As you can see from the video, Pippin thinks she has a new stage to perform on! It’s impossible to concentrate with all the building work, so we’ve been trying to get the place organised so that it will function more efficiently when we’re up and running again properly.
We did get making again today though, in spite of the chaos. Hannah threw a batch of plates for an order that is going to Paris and I made mugs on the old kick wheel that I rescued from Michael Cardew’s defunct pottery at Wenford Bridge in Cornwall. It’s the first time in several years that I’ve used the wheel, in fact, it’s the first time that I’ve thrown pots on it in Scotland. It’s great to be using it again, although it will take a bit of getting used to.
Life has been busy in the garden. I’ve always enjoyed planting flowers and the workshop beds and planters are just bursting in to colour. This year we’ve also started growing vegetables. It’s our plan to try and grow as much of our own food as we can, so we’re currently building raised beds, as well as tending a vegetable plot in the back garden. A chicken coop is on order and in the forthcoming weeks, we’ll be rescuing some battery hens and giving them a new free-range lease of life.
It’s been weeks since we uploaded a new film. There’s been a lot of building work going on, and we’ve been reorganising the workshop, so not many pots are getting made at the moment. Here’s a little film to show you what’s been happening. It also features Pippin in sweet voice, that I hope will bring you a smile.
A short post tonight because I’m exhausted and didn’t finish work until late.
First of all, thank you to everybody who has bought pots from our Shop page. We’ll be getting them out to you in the next few days.
I wanted to share a couple of pictures from yesterday.
We had to run an errand to Kirkudbright, so took the opportunity to give the little ones some time on the beach.
We’re fortunate to have a good sized garden, so lockdown hasn’t been too bad for them, apart from missing their friends of course, but they were so excited to have a change of scenery and to be able to run on the empty sands, it was lovely to see.
Today we’ve been back in the workshop. Hannah’s been throwing mugs
I’ve been decorating a sgrafitto puzzle jug for an order.
Pippin and Fred have been playing space rockets in a box.
Tomorrow we’re having more building work done on the workshop, with another new door being cut to give us access to the kiln shed at the back of the building. I’ll take some pictures and post them here when it’s done.
Time for bed. Goodnight all
Welcome to our new website.
Here we are on the blog page, where we’ll keep you up to date with what’s going on in our lives.
Under normal circumstances we’d be panicking by now, trying to get the last few pots through the kiln, ready to head off to the Earth & Fire show in Nottinghamshire. But of course, these are not normal circumstances. Instead, we’ve been trying to get on top of all the things that we never usually have the time to do. Just at the moment, we’re sorting out the workshop so that it functions properly, which up until now, it never has.
We moved production home to a workshop in the garden of our Galloway home about three years ago, starting off with two portable cabins, which have, step by step, been roofed and enclosed within wooden buildings, as and when time and money allowed.
This year, the lockdown has provided plenty of time and fortunately sales have continued to happen, so we’ve been wielding paintbrushes and employing a local handyman, to tidy up and streamline our operation.
The blue cabin on the left contains our electric kilns and wood machines. It’s to get a coat of green paint in the forthcoming days, once it stops raining. Only the one wall at the front of the workshop has been painted yet, so there’s a lot to do.
The painting will have to fit in around the next stage, which is to build a large wood fuelled kiln. We intend to start the build in the next week or two. The open-sided kiln shed at the back of the workshop and is ready and waiting.
We need to start getting some pots on the shelves, so as soon as we do, we’ll put some pictures and short videos of them in production, right here.
If you’d like to subscribe to our YouTube channel or sign up to our newsletter, please do. When we’re in full production, we post films every two or three days, and I promise we’ll not overload you with newsletters.
Here’s a little film narrated by our daughter Pippin, imploring you to subscribe to our channel, so that she can earn jelly babies!
Thank you for checking in on us, please do drop by again soon to see how we’re getting on.