The sideboard has been central to nearly all of our stand designs at Craft Fairs for several years now. It was small, understated – gently modernist – and this felt in sympathy with the pots that we were showing. I customised the inside to accommodate slim wooden boxes with just sufficient headroom to fit the various shapes of tableware that we took to shows – we could fit an amazing amount of work in it, all neatly tucked away, hidden behind closed doors. Tidy.
At Ceramic Art London 2015 the sideboard stayed at home. We felt the need for a change of ‘look’, something less buttoned-up. We didn’t want to hide pots anymore. For me this urge started when Tilla took her necklaces to Hereford Craft Fair last year. For once I wasn’t involved in the stand design or construction – it was totally her show. There were no feats of on-site carpentry – she pinned pieces of paper and fabric to the walls. Putting it up and taking it down were easy and relaxed. I really liked its style and this made me think differently about the solid, clean-lined, ‘fitted’ stands that hitherto I had taken some pride in making.
My imagination spiralled into extremes. In my dreams I arrived at CAL in a pick-up truck piled with old planks and crates and, using a hammer, nails, and a large ball of strong twine knocked up a freestyle, spontaneous construction. God knows how the pots were going to fit in to this idea …
Thankfully Tilla is less prone to such extremes. This year we found ourselves a trestle table.
I like its informality. We still used some of the wooden boxes that I made for the sideboard but, sitting under the table, this time not kept totally out of sight. Tilla designed some shelves that hang on strings (echoes of the strong twine…). Very un-James, but to my surprise I was quite converted.
But in this story the trestle table has another angle of influence. Like the sideboard we found it on Ebay. It arrived in a ridiculously huge lorry and the driver, handing it down to me, reassured me that it « …wasn’t heavy… ». It was only the following day that the sciatic pain started.
Sometimes it is good to take a break from work. But it is difficult to justify and often uncomfortable in the questions and doubts that it can reveal. Injuring my back gave me no choice but to take a break – no throwing for 2 months. It has thrown up difficult questions and uncovered doubts. It also feels like an opportunity to make a fresh start. The era of the trestle table.