Ceramicists raise £2000 for Prior's Court Foundation

17 Sep 2008

Artists in the Ceramics marquee at Art in Action raised £2000 for the Priors Court Foundation in July 2008. Each of the 24 ceramicists demonstrating and exhibiting their work, were invited by curator Sherry Moran to create a piece to fire in Peter Hayes' raku kiln. All the artists took the invitation as an opportunity to experiment with their work and the results were unique 'one of a kind' pieces. The daily auction produced some unexpected prices and the artists made the decision to donate these profits. A cheque will be presented to Dame Stephanie Shirley the founding patron next Friday 19 September at 11.30am at Waterperry House.

Priors Court is non-profit making organisation dedicated to providing the highest quality education and care for young people with autism and to promoting best practice and expertise worldwide.

Art in Action is one of the UK's longest running art and craft festivals which takes place every July in the grounds of Waterperry House in Oxfordshire. In 2008 over 200 artists set up their studios in one of the many Art in Action marquees to demonstrate their skill in Painting, Sculpture, Drawing and Printmaking, Ceramics, Calligraphy and Illustration, Glass, Metalwork and Jewellery, Nature in Art, Textiles, Woodwork and Art of Asia. Visitors can learn and buy from the artists or try their hand in one of the many practical classes on offer.

The first Art in Action event took place with about 50 artists in 1977. Over the last 31 years it has grown significantly and is now an annual pilgrimage for anyone interested in the visual arts. At Waterperry visitors can see and buy new art; attend demonstrations; learn new creative skills at practical classes set up separately for both children and adults; buy from the Craft Market and purchase art materials to take home and “get started”.

In addition, Art in Action offers fine music, performing artists and storytelling for children. There are guided tours of the beautiful Waterperry gardens where picnics are popular and also of the exquisite frescoes on the walls of Waterperry House that were completed in 2006 - a 10-year project. There is also a wide range of refreshments: cream teas from the Pear Tree Restaurant, a good selection of wines, champagne and Pimm’s served on the lawn in front of the house and numerous food stalls throughout the site.

Please see below an article by Lawrence McGowan which details what happened in the Ceramics tent from a potters perspective.

Potters at Art in Action 2008

The 31st Art in Action was held, as usual, at Waterperry House, Oxon in mid July. This year the visitor was presented with a new event layout to explore and in some cases they found that sections had been amalgamated and condensed to help the visitor make the very most of their day at the show. The ceramics tent was, however, as large and comprehensive as ever and some 24 potters and a restoration expert were selected to demonstrate their craft over the four days. Sherry Moran, the tent organiser, issued a further invitation to everyone by inviting them to make a piece, or pieces, that Peter Hayes would fire during the event in his Raku kiln. The challenge was taken up almost without exception and a great variety of pieces in an equally great variety of clays were produced for Peter's experienced consideration and treatment. Some were produced with more hope and expectation than others but everyone entered into the challenge with a spirit of serendipitous fun. Indeed the project soon took on a life of its own and it became a great  pooling and sharing of expertise, with pieces being passed around from potter to potter to be decorated, gilded, inscribed, glazed or whatever, resulting in  some amazing collaborative celebrations in clay. Some pieces were reckoned to be particularly special and one tea bowl was even endowed with a name, in true Japanese teamaster tradition, and provided with a pedigree which was beautifully produced  by even more collaborators from the calligraphy tent. Indeed, one thing led to another and at some stage a suggestion was made, and eagerly taken up, that the occasion could be used to raise some money for a suitable charity by auctioning each day’s results. More astounding talent was then revealed when Richard Godfrey took the metaphorical podium as the auctioneer and by a process of guile, good humoured insults, slanderous insinuations about the ability of some potters and an exuberance as joyous as his own pots persuaded people to dig deep into their pockets to the depth of a remarkable £2000 over the course of the four days. The special tea bowl mentioned above fetching a record  £210.

As if all this wasn't elating enough, the cheers, and subsequent orders for champagne were indeed something to hear, and behold,  when it was announced that a piece by Ashraf Hanna had been voted The Best of the Best in the entire show. And it didn't end there, a lustred bowl by Tony Laverick was awarded the joint third prize. All in all a great four days for British Ceramics and one which will be remembered and talked about for many years to come by all who were fortunate to have taken part.
The 24 demonstrating potters where as follows. Gwen Bainbridge, Linda Bloomfield, Nick Collins, Alyson Cook, Jane Cox, Eddie Curtis, Bridget Drakeford,  Francoise Dufayard, Sue Dyer, Lisa Ellul, Richard Godfrey, Ashraf Hanna, Peter Hayes, Graham Hudson, Paul Jackson, Markus Klausmann, Tony Laverick, Laurence McGowan, Keith Munro, Fritz Rossmann, Antonia Salmon, Ruthanne Tudball, Kaori Tatebayashi and Christianne Wilhelm. See if you can match these makers to their pots  by identifying their work in these close-up details. Answers below.

Whilst the demonstrating potters in the Ceramics Tent are very much in public view it would be wrong in an account of Art in Action 2008  not  mention those other behind the scenes potters in the Practical Classes who, in their encouragement to have  a go throwing on a wheel or handbuilding, are perhaps sowing the seeds to produce a further generation of British makers in clay.  They were, and apologies if anyone is missed, Richard Baxter, John Chipperfield, Russell Coates,  Dianne Cross, Cathy D'Arcy, Patia Davis, Helen D Evans, Margaret Gardiner, Mirka Golden-Hann, Paula Gray,  Simon Hulbert, Deana Lee, John Mathieson, Richard Miller, Gilly Whittington and Steve Woodhead.