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A post about creativity...

When I started out with ceramics, it was a full twenty something years since I had last done anything really creative (if you exclude making the odd quilt or taking photographs). I a legally trained, document drafting monkey who could manage complicated transactions ... In the search to feed something that was eating at my insides, I had learned to sail and gone sailing half way round the world, but the feeling came back. The feeling eventually became a kind of craving, like a deep hunger, and I went to night school to try and satisfy it. I chose ceramics because it felt therapeutic... and practical. After a couple of years of this, I put a studio in the garden and ditched the desk job one day a week. On Wednesdays I was a potter. A couple more years down the line and I became a full time potter, which felt joyous and liberating - which it still does. It literally never gets old. I can't remember if I have told you about ikigai, which is a Japanese philosphy which embodies the concept of having a deep and meaningful purpose which leads to complete contentment. This is a concept that resonates a lot with me. I feel very lucky to have found it. So its fair to say I like exercising my creative muscles...

Even so, ceramics is often about the practical side of making rather than coming up with new concepts, so the annual Potfest competition has become a creative highlight. Its basically an excuse to go totally off piste ... For those who don't know, Potfest is a really brilliant series of ceramics fairs all over the country - check it out. You can get upwards of 90 of the loveliest people who all make things with clay.. from mugs to animal sculptures and everything in between. The Potfest competition is a tradition where the potters are given a theme (one theme for each year) and if they want to enter, they make something inspired by the theme. Last year's theme was "Rooted in the Past, Planted in the Present". The year before that was "Time and Reflection". This year's theme is "Nursery Rhymes". WHAAAAT??? I have to say, I got stumped by that.... for about 10 minutes. So this year's entry (pictured) is called "#savedbythenhs". Whereas all the Kings Horses and all the Kings Men couldn't put Humpty together again, the NHS could.... The piece is supposed to go deeper than that, as treatments become more sophisticated and the population has aged, the NHS seems to be continually in "crisis" and we surely need to examine what part we all play in that, whether its our expectations of it, or the amount we pay for it. Its not quite finished, but I am looking forward to taking him on tour this summer - I am doing three Potfests. In the meantime he is sat in the studio freaking out the visitors.

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