So this Autumn I went full tilt at promoting my work and getting it out there. I made the possibly crazy decision to do 3 fairs in 2 coutries in 1 month. I started off with The Other Art Fair London. At this fantastic show I met a great range of professional contacts including Artist agents, I have a formal meeting with them next week, and the curator of an amazing museum project which is still in development (more about this next year). I also had the opportunity to net-work with some fabulous artists, and sold the largest work on my stand, my star piece which had so much love through the show I could have sold it several times over! Unusually for a fair I sold it through the fair director rather than face to face, so thank you Ryan for facilitating that.
The next fair I did was in Oxo Tower Wharf, and standing around in that South London setting in April had been the inspiration for the starting point of the Cobalt Collection. So as I stood in the cold in April, something was tickling the back of my mind about the South London Potters in Southwark (which I had arrived through) and Vauxhall which was near to where I would be leaving from. I had had this connection between the Thames and Cobalt floating in the back of my mind for ages. The colours of the Thames are reflected in the range of blues and greens and turquoises that can be found, the changeability and at the same time permanence of the river are similar to the chemical nature of cobalt, but there was something else, I was sure of it. So after the show I started to research into the history of the South London potters and this is what I found. They were originally a group of refugees from religious persecution in the low countries and France. They had been obliged to live outside the city, as only people born in the city could live in the city at the time, and they had brought with them the techniques for glazing pottery that included amongst other colours the prized cobalt blue of Deltware. They were the originators of blue and white pottery in England. Before that English pottery was brown or green. These potteries were also at the foundations of some of the most famous potteries for example Royal Doulton started out here.
So here I was this Autumn with the Cobalt Collection that had started as a germ of a thought the last time I did this same fair in this same place, with cobalt blue skies outside as well as in and a beautiful golden sunshine falling across my work. A week later I was in New York!
So to get to New York I had sent my work ahead to my gorgeous friend Rachel’s house, which while not in New York city is in New York state, I knew it had arrived safe and sound as she’d sent me the pictures, and despite two hiccoughs in customs leaving the UK and then entering the USA with the help of UPS they had arrived before I even set off.
The pieces I took to America were the ones which explored cobalts bigger story, the research I did into the collection at the British Museum. I had looked into the archives and found how cobalt pigmented objects had left in their physicality these traces of human interconnectedness since the iron age, how they had been traded in the form of glass, by Phoenicians across the meditteranean, how they had spread through the Islamic world into the Iberian peninsular and how even in the iron age cobalt blue glass had made its way to the shore of England. The work in the US referenced the names of places this evidence came from. traces of classical silk route trade and more. And one of the things tht really happens when you spend three weekends in close proximity explaining what you do to so many thousands of people, is that you get a bit clearer about why you do it yourself. Which in itself is a little gift to the artist.
Back at home in between all these fairs the commission that Rebecca Wilson of saatchiart and I had been talking about since Bristol came through. So in between this I was making a very large painting that will be gracing the wall of a boutique cruise ship that runs its route between the Galapagos and Europe carrying passengers in luxury. The making of the piece is probably for the next post, when I may even have photos of it in place. I have used Andean Indigo and European ochres to make it.