God and galena grey


the McAulay Gallery, the V&A

the McAulay gallery, the V&A


the gallery of much contemporary ceramics, the V&A


Michael Cardew's pieces, the V&A

I wrote this piece below and would be interested in any feedback.

God and Galena Grey


I am sitting in the McAulay Gallery of the V&A. This gallery houses a selection of contemporary ceramic pieces in the recently re-vamped ceramics display within the Museum.

The gallery has a theme ‘Signs and Wonders’. It is crowned by a porcelain dome 30′ above the floor and around the bottom edge of the dome is a red metal shelf. On this high altar, sitting in a ring around the circumference, are over 300 porcelain pieces made by Edmund du Vaal . They are quite untouchable, bathed in a gentle light but actually quite hard to see because they are so high up, a seductive explanation, hangs nearby. Below, way below, on two large semicircular stands are freestanding examples of large expressive pieces from different leading ceramic artists, such as the late Simon Carroll. An installation of smashed shards festoons one wall, a cabinet of small pieces another. Below du Vaal’s dome the walls are painted a heavy leaden [galena] grey, which saps light and the works struggle for attention. I was reminded of an underground station.

 But then it gets worse because we go into the next gallery where all the rest of the contemporary and modern potters’ work is crammed into unlit cases. For example, the bold strength and rigour of Michael Cardew’s work sits almost drowned in this gloomy, overcrowded pall.

My objection is the blatant messages that are coming out of this. The emphasis on the installation in the McAuley Gallery upstages the other contemporary ceramics, which are so full of vitality and strength. For me pottery is both visual and tactile but also quite intimate. There is none of this in du Vaal’s display. We have a strong tradition of ceramics/pottery in England. There are several outstanding potters, like Clive Bowen and Svend Bayer, whose work I feel is not properly displayed. I recently attended a lecture by Simon Olding on the subject of placing ceramics in public places and was quite looking forward to my visit to the V&A. The sculptor Anthony Gormley has moved art into the public domain and this installation is an example of that, but I would prefer to see this in Tate Modern where it can be judged against other conceptual art.

So what am I saying is: sort out the lighting and the overcrowded cabinets of contemporary potter’s work in the V&A and challenge modern art with ceramics in an art gallery. 

The rest of the 5-6 galleries were fine.


A Great Evening Walk

looking north from Crackington Haven



looking south west from Crackington Haven Bay

further up the coast


St Geny's Church

Evening light beginning to fade

I was going to get all heavy and talk about pots but then I went for this brilliant walk last night. We left Crackinton Haven and did a loop around going up the coast a little way and then baring round to St Geny’s Church and back. The evening light was stunning throwing up the colour of the sea the rocks and the wild flowers. St Geny’s Church which has a squat tower bearly higher than the Church ridge is tucked into the lea of a small hill which falls away down a couple of fields to the coast and cliffs.

Ceramic Conference Burton Art Gallery Bideford 9th April 2010

Alex McErlain

Professor Simon Olding

“In celebration of the new Ceramics Gallery at the Burton, Ceramics Now aims to raise the profile of ceramics and highlight the importance of this medium”

Go and sit for a day listening to people droning on about pots I thought you’ve got to be joking – and to pay for it!

The 6 speakers from extremely different ceramic backgrounds gave 5 excellent and very interesting presentations ranging from traditional English slipware through the installations of  Edmund de Vaal, Magdelene Odundo and Ashley Howard, a profile of Simon Carrol, a grant  for a student  to work with the plaster mold makers of Stoke-on -trent andffinishing with the setting up of a ceramics Bienneale in Stoke. The day was ably chaired by Sandy Brown whose enthusiasm had been crucial in setting up this day. The event was well attended and there was the oppurtunity to see the Reg Lloyd  collection finally in all its glory in the new Ceramic Gallery.

This was a definite first for the Burton so well done to every one involved . This can only help to foster interest in the ‘rich heritage and ceramic traditon of this country and in particular in this region’.

sorry about the time lapse

Spring flowers & pots

our fancy magnolia

underneath the appletree oh yeh

scuing round with the camera

trying to disguise the oil tank

the flowers are just great this year

out of our garden and into the showroom

there's been some trade over Easter

this is a big experiment into a vidclip

 vidclip 001

Support for our exhibition

Just amazing the support we had for the private view. Thank you thank you to everyone around Hartland & N.Devon who came to Camelford- through snow showers an’ all. And thank you to Sally for all she has done as well. And now we are back here trying a bit of cooking.

thought we would try to cook it like its in the book

and its quite close

and Flo's just not interested

 The rainbow trout turned out quite well. I had some feed back from an American friend about the tortoises and if you you need some amusement try this link.


the cooked trout