about two weeks ago I traveled to Cumbria to take part in Potfest in the Pens – a pottery fair in the livestock market in Penrith. it is not a selected show, they take the first hundred and thirty or so potters who send in applications, which results in an interesting mixture and the atmosphere of a market. the livestock pens form a good basis for the stands, as long as you don’t mind the rather powerful agricultural smell after the stalls have been hosed down – this is strongest when wet, and green stuff tends to stay on shoes and anything else in contact with the floor.


it had mostly dried up by the first day, and the high roof provides shelter from wind and rain, with good lighting. calico was the answer to covering up the cattle pen background for me – others had boards, shelves and more complicated apparatus. I needed to get everything into my not very large car, so instead of plinths I had two planks and blocks to stand them on, with velcro to keep them stable. the same grey Ikea curtains covered the two tables issued to everyone.


Kay Corbett made me the blocks and planks; it was her idea to join them with velcro. at first I was quite worried about the stability, but there wasn’t a problem. I was very careful about squeezing behind the tables though.


I put the banner up across the back, and although it was draped over the bulging pen gates which were immoveable and stacked at the back, it looked good.


reactions to the pots were positive and I sold four. my prices were very high compared to everyone else’s though. of course, I can’t change them, they have to be what the pots sell for in the galleries. I have to pay VAT and in fact, I didn’t make a profit, but the expenses were all covered. I think the Park potfest would be a more suitable venue for my work in fact.


but I enjoyed the weekend, everyone was very friendly, and as I have only just started to test the water at this ceramic fair business, I was quite happy.


the shiny glazes definitely appeal to more people than the dry ones, but of the four pieces I sold, the two smaller ones were older pots with the dry barium carbonate glaze.


I love this flower – cranesbill – it grows on the verges everywhere “up north”.


there’s nothing like a bowl of cherries either ….


there was plenty of whimsy (this teapot is by Catherine Boyne-Whitelegg), colour, buttons, ceramic animals; the usual mix – from the banal to the very serious.

1Lindsay Thomas

Ben Fosker’s pots were my favourites of the serious end – strong heavy pots and wonderfully bold crawled glazes


wood-fired, but only for fourteen hours


and a delightfully loose attitude to glaze recipes and materials


he lives up on the Solway Firth; I had never seen his work before. It was very good to see a whole slew of different potters.

next time I am going to apply for the selected Potfest fair in Cumbria, Potfest in the Park, which is the week before, at Hutton-in-the-forest, in marquees in front of the castle, a beautiful venue .  if I get selected I am not going to eat the full english breakfasts at the B&B.