Sheffield Ceramics Festival

I was so excited to have been selected for the Sheffield Ceramics Festival – I’d been busy sculpting, glazing, making plinths, getting ready and of course panicking and worrying about trying my best to make it work.

Friday 1st was my birthday, and I was down at Kelham Island setting everything up ready for the weekend. The last time I was here in a professional capacity was as a wedding photographer, long before the pandemic hit. How my life had changed! Stopping for a quick birthday takeaway on my way home I had a phone call to let me know that I had been accepted to a TV programme I’d (in my madness) applied for! I’ve signed an NDA so I can’t tell you any more, but what a birthday surprise!

Unfortunately I came across a badger at the side of the road on my way home. Checking to see whether it was a boy or girl (in case I needed to send out the search party for cubs missing their mum) I was relieved to find it was a boy. I carried his lifeless body to the woods where he can be safely scavenged away from the eyes of those who would do badgers harm. Such a sad waste of life. I wish people would slow down in their cars.

I called in to see the folks and give Dad some more reiki before heading home to put my feet up and worry some more about the weekend ahead.

Kelham Island Sheffield Ceramics Festival

Spreading the love

From behind my stand, I watched as strangers strolled by, their eyes casting over my ceramic wares. It was a stand of two halves – on one side there were the larger head studies, on the other, rows of little joyful birds in their many colours.

Watching these strangers, I found I was drawn to their emotions just as I had been those years ago as a documentary wedding photographer. Instead of capturing their reactions with a camera, I realised I had created their reactions with my art. It was an incredible feeling to know that what I had created with my bare hands from my soul was connecting with strangers in a profound way. What a privilege. I knew all the hard work and stress had been worth it just to be able to see these moments.

My happy place

I was asked by one lady, “what got you into birds?”

I explained that I’d always loved nature but the lockdown had allowed me time to reconnect with it. To sit in the garden, with the birds around me. Now I can share their space whilst making little clay versions people can hold in their hands and keep close to them. I see the birds watching me making them, watching them. It’s such a peaceful, creative place to be and makes me incredibly happy. This is why I call them, “birds of joy.”

I wrote down in my little book a few comments that really struck me;

“They’re so expressive!”

“They really are joyful!”

“Awww, these have made my day!”

“They’re smiling with their eyes!”

I even had one lady who bought one and named it after me! I had a couple of friends who made the trip especially to see me and support me (yes I had to hold it together when I saw them) and they said what a wonderful, friendly event it was and was just what they needed to lift their spirits.

Mud is so powerful…

Kelham Island Sheffield Ceramics Festival