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putting on an exhibition in a church is a very hard thing to carry off, even in such a beautifully austere and light-filled one such as the parish church at Salthouse, an ancient fishing village tucked behind a shingle bank and saltmarshes, which, as its name suggests, made salt from sea water in the early middle ages, and probably well before that. it is an annual event, organised and funded by a group of local artists, and I have to admit that the three I have looked at before this year have not encouraged me to put forward a proposal. it always seemed to me that the curator had selected too much and tried to obliterate the church, filling every available space and in doing so creating something not far off a jumble.

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however, this time a potter friend, Antje Ernestus, encouraged me to try, telling me about the curator, Simon Martin, a young man with an interest in ceramics, and I found his theme, Salt of the Earth, fascinating, with its suggestion to read Mark Kurlansky’s book, Salt, a World History. I proposed to make vessels which would refer to salt-making – collection, crystallisation, evaporation, and some of the ancient uses of salt – purification, fertilisation, preservation. they would also refer to the Norfolk coastal landscape, with its mud, sand, chalk, flint and glacial deposits, through the glazes I use, the mud-cracking, peeling ash/clay glaze, rust accretion, and the dry powdery barium carbonate and china clay glaze, chalk beach.

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this is the vessel of fertilisation, a re-run of a slab vessel I used to make a few years ago and was not very satisfied with; this version is made by making two bowl forms by press-mould and joining them to make something vaguely spheroid. the brown trickle runs on the funnel are caused by the lack of thickness of that part of the pot which intially takes up more glaze than the bisque can absorb, so that the water trickles down through the glaze before it dries out.

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and this large bowl I am particularly pleased with, the glaze has stayed matte-ish, and the overlap section in the middle looks like the wake of a fishing boat with the seagulls flying over it. not intentional at all, but highly relevant in several ways, as the vessel of collection.

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Simon decided to put the pieces in front of a section of the fifteenth century rood screen, which is near the font at the back of the church. these painted screens should be nearer the altar as they separated the priest and the more sacred part of the church from the lay people, but parts of it were put in other places around the church in the 1930’s. they were made and painted at a time of great prosperity, and as well as figures of saints, local benefactors  of the church are portrayed. after the reformation the faces were scratched off, but the parts that remain are exquisite.

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there are also a series of fascinating ship graffiti made by sixteenth century and later choirboys all over the backs of the rood screen and the choirstalls. I wonder how they managed to carve these unobserved and unheard.

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this site and this one are worth a visit to find out more about the church  which is in a stunning position with its windy churchyard above the marshes.

after invigilating next week I will write about all the other art in the show!