Incredibly, it’s only been 2 weeks since New Designers took me back to the heat and bustle of London. I’m not really sure what I was expecting from One Year On, but whatever it was, I got more. The opportunity to reflect on the past 12 months was a gem in itself, and the people I met were quite exceptional. I’m left with a bit more clarity on the direction of my practice and some nice opportunities to explore.
First up, I’ll be exhibiting at Studio Fusion Gallery in the Oxo Tower from 13 September to 23 October. The Fusion team invited me as a result of New Designers last year, and it was great to see them again at this year’s PV. Straight after the Fusion exhibition, I’ll be crossing the road to Dazzle at the National Theatre from 5 November through to 6 January.
As well as meeting curators, collectors, professors and punters, One Year On also gave me the chance to hang out with other makers, and even to create a (temporary) joint display with neighbor Alison Rees, whose ceramic vessels seemed very happy to nestle in alongside the tools – a joint exhibition in the making?
Functionality remained the number one topic for visitors to the Tool Museum. Some people loved the idea of the tools being without definition while others were less than impressed by the absence of a specific use. I enjoyed the conversations this provoked, with other exhibitors as well as visitors. Alison’s unglazed vessels are purely decorative, which seems to be an altogether more acceptable status for a small pot than for a twiggy brush.
Graduate Enya Moore is inspired by her father’s kitchen tools while Charlotte Anne Duckworth has a rather more practical take – with her pieces intended for use. Chatting to Enya at the very end of the show, I was suddenly taken with the fact that we had each arrived at similar-looking objects via very different routes. The picture shows (L to R) Enya’s cast bronze tool inspired by a melon-baller, a tool for looking from my Tool Museum (2001) and Charlotte’s olive spoon. Related objects, despite very different intentions.
Unexpectedly the show also took on a confessional air, with a number of visitors sharing their own “weakness” for brushes and other tools. Jo Pond told me about her collection at www.obsessionistas.co.uk and another visitor reminded me of the Only Fools and Horses sketch were Trigger’s celebrated broom of 20 years has had 17 new heads and 14 new handles. I was also delighted to receive a host of recommendations for shops where brushes and tools are celebrated – Paris, Kyoto and Oxford here I come!
Overall it was a tremendously intense few days, with a great deluge of feedback, including a mention on Caroline Banks’s blog. It was a delight to meet so many people and make some new friends. But my absolutely favourite comment had to be from Prof Norman Cherry who called the work “whimsical and cheeky”. I like that.