Curious walkers may have noticed an invasion of small bottles on the Stiffkey Marshes over the May Bank Holiday weekend.
Continuing my project to create pots which have been shaped by the changing tides, I took my chance to secure a number of bottles in the flow of the tidal creek. The weather was glorious and I embraced the opportunity to retreat to the marshes, a relaxing place to enjoy the lapping of the sea against the small boats and the chattering oyster catchers whilst contemplating the direction of my work.
Can you spot the pottery lurking in Stiffkey Marshes?
I decided on Stiffkey Marshes as the first place to secure my pottery, not just for its tidal location, but more so because it is relatively quiet and unknown, in comparison to a pier at a popular seaside resort.
Once I had tested the strength of the fishing line I was using to attach my pots to a concrete structure, my main concern was that once discovered, someone may decide to take the pot and give it a new home.
I’ve agonised over leaving these pots to fend for themselves, as it really does feel like I’m abandoning a small part of myself. Only this morning I realised I was focusing too much on the final piece, and Art is a fabulous vehicle to encourage people to think differently about their world.
A shy pot, hiding from public gaze on Stiffkey Marshes
After accepting this, I am now able to view the entire project as an installation, an exhibition of sorts in situ. A big philosophy behind my work is to slow people down and encourage them to notice the beauty of Nature, the subtle changes, the wonderful processes which go on irregardless of the minutia of our own lives. By providing a clay canvas to draw attention to this, and provide a point of interest perhaps on someone’s walk through the marshes, then maybe this can be achieved and I shouldn’t be shying from the public eye.
The closest comparison I can think of is the recent explosion of yarn bombing, even as close to home as Bedford, with a Bedford Creative Arts project, so perhaps what I’m trying to do isn’t so different.
If someone wants to take one of the bottles, then that is a compliment – obviously it is annoying, as I am trying to make a living from this, but maybe they will Google their find, which leads me on to my next point.
I’m going to produce some ‘dogtags’ which will display the web address of this blog, so if people do come across my work and wonder what it is, by having a website address imprinted into clay, I hope this will feed their curiosity, without the need to take the work home. And if they do, it doesn’t matter. I can make more, and perhaps their story of discovering an abandoned piece of pottery will create some fascination in what I’m trying to do.
Only today when I went back to Stiffkey to retrieve the pots before heading home, I had the realisation that the pottery is already in an exhibition. Okay, it doesn’t carry the prestige of a Gallery, but it can be viewed at low tide, and the natural processes I’m working with are dynamic and exciting, and far more interactive than a bright, clean, dry gallery space.
You can see the work in progress in beautiful surroundings…and stop for a tasty crab lunch at the newly refurbished Three Swallows in Cley, like I did today!
So I didn’t collect the pots. They’re still there and I invite you to go and find them…