Earth & Fire – International Ceramics Fair at Rufford Abbey, Notts has just been and gone. But a show I would highly recommend just for the great diverse nature of the range of ceramic techniques on display. Steve Booton, Jackie Knight and Laura Manners were on the (Northern potters Association) http://www.northern-potters.co.uk NPA group stand. A bit of a trying time for the 100 potters there over the weekend as the wind was playing havoc with the potters display stands.
The event is the only regional ceramic fair of its kind and is organised by Rufford Craft Centre and held at Rufford Abbey Country Park, which is managed by Nottinghamshire County Council.
A celebration of clay in all its forms Earth and Fire, one of the premiere ceramic events in the country, will be celebrating its 18th birthday this year.
Every year potters from across the UK, mainland Europe and further afield will come to Rufford to sell direct to the public from market stalls set in the grounds of the ruined ancient abbey.
With a full programme of demonstrations and campus stands showcasing the next generation of potters and trade stands selling tools of the trade, Earth and Fire is truly a celebration of clay in all its forms. The event is a major FREE festival in the ceramic calendar.
Among the exhibitors this year will be local potters from Nottinghamshire and some from abroad – there are potters selected from Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany, Australia and South Africa.
The event is a treat for all collectors, gallery owners, enthusiasts and general public to meet and talk to the potters selling everything from garden planters and sculptures, to bowls, pie dishes, teapots, mugs, plates and egg cups.
Ceramicist Rachel Wood from Mansfield, has attended the fair for the last four years, and sees it as a key date in the calendar for the industry. She has missed just three annual events over the last decade.
Rachel first attended the fair in 2000 and she says that the range of collectors who visit Rufford is extremely helpful. She said: “In the early days I was managing my ceramic work part time and working full time as an arts officer with a district council.
“I made the decision about five years ago to go full time thinking that it was now or never and it has proved to be the best decision I could have made.”
Rachel Wood Ceramics (www.rachelwoodceramics.co.uk) was launched and despite the economic climate she is finding the business is going well.
Rachel is based at the Harley Gallery in Worksop on the Welbeck Estate and also runs weekly workshops at Rufford Abbey Craft Centre with members of the public.
Rachel, who specialises in a range of ceramics thrown on the wheel and with more recent ventures into coiling and pinching techniques, has attended Earth and Fire for the last three years. She also tours widely across the UK and Europe and has done so for the last decade.
She said: “I am inspired by the world around me; the colours shapes and the textures of the landscape…
“I love to explore the rhythm and movement of throwing clay on a wheel, excited by the freshness and spontaneity of the results.
“I want each pot to convey its own spirit and character – to have a pulse and a heartbeat. I want the marks to reflect the journey of exploration and learning in each pot, just as a wrinkle or dimple depicts expression and character in a human face.
“My personal intuitive touch is an integral part of these pots – a dent in the soft clay, a tear, rip, and a finger or handprint in the glaze. It is inspired by the strong need we all have to be touched.
“I am looking forward to Earth and Fire – it has an international reputation and is a fantastic setting here at Rufford.”
In contrast to Rachel, this year will be the debut year at Earth and Fire for Suet Yi Yip. Suet, a graduate from Nottingham Trent University is in her first year as a potter having quit her job in Hong Kong to come and study in the UK for her second degree.
During her degree she met Nottingham potter Katrin Moye who offered her part time work over the holiday where her love for ceramics began to grow and she began to make and sell her own ceramics.
She said: “Fortunately, my ceramics have gained a lot of good comments. The selling experience gave me confidence in having a business on my own.
“To set up a studio by myself was a big step and also a big risk to take. The stress of being away from home for a few more years and having an unstable job made me feel difficult. However, thinking of what I had been doing for the three years of studies and what opportunities I had been given, I decided to stay in the UK.”
Earth and Fire is the latest opportunity for Suet Yi Yip who has taken part in more than a dozen exhibitions including the FRESH British Ceramics Biennial 2011, the Great Northern Contemporary Craft Fair and Lustre. See how her work is inspired by nature and children, and read more about her on her website: www.suetyiceramics.co.uk