Objects for the Hand and Heart. Quiet Work for a Frenetic World.

If you have read the last blog post you will know more or less where this new series of work that has been evolving this year is coming from. (If you haven't I encourage you to scroll down and have a read).

What is not possible to show with a photograph is how these new pieces feel in hand. People (including me) have been SO programmed to never touch ceramic sculpture, yet that is what these pieces ask for. (with the exception of the wall pieces).  The objects (in the flesh) emit a soft glow - from much time spent burnishing and sanding - and feel sensuous in their unglazed nakedness.. like bone.....or skin...or smooth stone.  They are meant to be held, turned over, explored and mulled over, through touch.

The pieces reflect both on the quiet and solitary act of making as well as the slow, repetitive process of carving away excess to reveal a thing's essence. 'Stripping things to the bone' as the saying goes.

I'll admit that yes, the work is completely different from any of my previous (more exuberant) work - many people have commented on this. But perhaps the times we are in call for both the exuberant and the contemplative. I loved making this new work. It came up from somewhere deep within. I hope it resonates with you. Enjoy!

Memento Mori, Memento Anima: Remembering Death in Life


The richness of spring is for me an exuberant time of abundance, promise and hope but also an exercise in non-attachment. It invites me to notice new sounds and presences, and to celebrate in the life-filled transformation of my surrounds. Yet it is fleeting. For me the intense surge of joy brought to the season by birds is tinged with the somewhat tragic awareness of its eventual demise.

Birds. To me they are the spirits inhabiting the verge between earthly and heavenly realms - animating the air with movement and song and coaxing me to revel richly in the present. They represent Anima which in Latin can mean air, wind, breath, breath of life, soul.

Becoming aware of the transience of time somehow helps to ‘fatten’ each moment. In its exuberance and ephemerality, birdsong, like the flush of greens and blossoms that unfold in the landscape, is a constant reminder of the passage of time.

This work reflects on how death and life are in some way united and examines the very human tendency to try to capture, contain, and hold onto moments/things as mementos - specimens, photos, objects - and on how by doing this ‘alive-ness’ may be lost.

Birds are having a tough time with the challenges we humans have thrown at them and their numbers are declining rapidly. I fear a time where the voices and feathers so familiar to me, will be accessed only through documents, memory, and mementos. 


New work at General Fine Craft, Art & Design

June 3-28.  Vernissage, Friday, June 5. 7-9pm

Unfired ceramic eggs containing flower seeds: trapping life or containing potential?

Unfired ceramic eggs containing flower seeds: trapping life or containing potential?

Wendell Berry On How To Be A Poet (and Human)

One/another of my favorite poets, thinkers and inspired humans is Wendell Berry.  Farmer, writer, poet, philosopher, activist, and common-sense man - he embodies and articulates values I hold dear.  Maria Popova - who pens an always inspired weekly blog called Brain Pickings features Wendell Berry in her column this week. You can read it here and also hear Berry reading one of his poems How To Be A Poet.

An excerpt:

Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill — more of each
than you have — inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity.

Increasingly I am experiencing poetry as the linguistic embodiment of 'fat' moments - those moments that feel round and full and stretched out. Where body, senses, mind and spirit are simultaneously inspired and united.

For more on Maria Popova check out the interview with her from On Being

Mary Oliver - On Attention

One of my favorite poets - Mary Oliver - is interviewed by Krista Tippet in this episode of On Being.

As might be expected there were many illuminating moments, like this one that rang out for me.

Attention without feeling is only a report.......Attention is the beginning of devotion

Part of living well in the world, I concur, is about cultivating attentiveness - an attentiveness not only involving the eyes, but also the other senses and the heart. It's a practice where thinking, for a change, is relegated to the trunk, or at least the back seat. For me such moments of dedicated attentiveness, experienced in and out of the studio, can mysteriously release creative potential.  It doesn't happen often enough, but it seems to be, like most acquired skills, something that thankfully can be cultivated with a dose of intention.

For me, making objects without care, focus, and some kind of devotion to the process seems hollow - like a half-hearted, rather than a heart-full attempt.  When my heart is not in my practice - when I am not 'attending' to it - the work tells me by not resonating as it should. 

Mary Oliver talks in this interview about the discipline of keeping your dates with creativity - regularly and without fail - and cautions that every moment of this time will not produce a masterpiece. But by consistently and attentively creating this space/time we invite inspiration to inhabit it - and it eventually shows up. Hallelujah for this!

This is one of the things I need to attend to this year....keeping my dates with creativity.

Attentiveness invites a pause. It's a receptive offering.


On Beauty

When you love something like reading — or drawing or music or nature — it surrounds you with a sense of connection to something great. If you are lucky enough to know this, then your search for meaning involves whatever that Something is. It’s an alchemical blend of affinity and focus that takes us to a place within that feels as close as we ever get to “home.” It’s like pulling into our own train station after a long trip — joy, relief, a pleasant exhaustion.

If a writer or artist creates from a place of truth and spirit and generosity, then I may be able to enter and ride this person’s train back to my own station. It’s the same with beautiful music and art.

Beauty is meaning.

I read this quote from Jeanette Winterson this morning on Maria Popova's blog "Brainpickings" (which is a gem of a blog). And it resonated.

Somedays...many days in fact, it can be truly hard to feel that the work one does as an artist has any relevance to the world outside one's own imagination. Yet the impulse to continue making what one feels compelled to make keeps creative types of all kinds stepping up again and again to the studio, to the instrument, to the page.

After a week spent in Toronto at the Interior Design Show, surrounded by a lot of (often beautiful) manufactured stuff - from high end faucets, to lighting and flooring - the relevance of the hand-made, 'small batch', and spirit-imbued 'things' whether it be tables, plates, or songs has never seemed clearer.  Over and over, we (Heidi Earnshaw and I) saw people's faces lighting up as they walked by, and heard what an 'oasis' our booth was. How rewarding.

In an age where machines make and run most everything, people truly seem starved for a renewed connection to the things they live with - the story of where something comes from, an association with the person who made it, and evidence of and care taken by the maker's hand.  I am lucky to be a maker.  it is a privilege. And it is refreshing to feel again a sense of purpose in doing what I do.

IDS - cylinders - detail

IDS - cylinders - detail

Welcome to my new website!

Well, it has been a long time coming, and it still is evolving but WELCOME! 

I've got several more galleries to post in the coming days and some photo editing to do, but much of my most recent work is now up.  WOO-HOO!

Please feel free to leave a comment, or share with friends, or sign up for my e-newsletter to stay in touch.

I am looking forward to finally having a place to archive and share my work with you.