A pottery studio in St Civran, France


Welcome to this blog about the quiet rural life in the Berry Province of France where I have tried to open a pottery studio to hobby potters.
Your comments will be appreciated.

28 July 2013

66. Poterie entrée libre





 Nearly there...

Some of the furniture stored in my pottery studio has been sold and some more junk has been sorted out.

I have cleared one meter of the 3m work bench and I have made small heaps of some dry clay previously put to soak.

With the hot and dry weather we are having now it should be ready for throwing on the potter's wheel by... by to-morrow!





02 April 2013

65. A kiln building workshop in Dordogne

This post is to give a bit of publicity to a holiday workshop taking place in Dordogne, France, at the end of June this year 2013.

I got the information this morning from a friend potter www.lesmainsdanslaterre.com living in Dordogne and running a website with all sorts of announcements to do with the pottery scene in France.
Here's the info:

An American couple from Arizona www.caneloproject.com are giving a workshop in building a kiln with clay and lime and things... it does sound interesting but it remains to be seen!

They will be hosted in Dordogne by Sara Daniels www.terre-et-toi.com who runs a "gîte", French equivalent to a B&B. The address is at 24700 St Géraud de Corps in France, i.e. 30 minutes from Bergerac and 1h from Bordeaux. The workshop will be from 30 June to 5 July and will cost €750.


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I'd love to attend and take part.

If any potter here in Ireland is interested to join me to go, please contact me, I have spare free seats in my car!

19 March 2013

64. ON A VISIT TO POTTERS IN IRELAND

Last August I wrote on this blog: "I am moving back for real to the house attached to the pottery studio and as permanently as can be!"... Famous last words. In January, i.e. four months later, I moved to Ireland. Yes, IRELAND.

Getting slowly acquainted with the pottery scene here.

Not long ago, through the diplomatic help of a new friend, I was able to meet Patricia Howard in her workshop in Duncormick, County Wexford. Alice and I had organised to block an afternoon for two events, one meeting at the Presbyterian church in Wexford about a potential future minister there, and afterwards to drive to Duncormick to meet Patricia the potter. Yes, but this type of organisation assumes that all goes as planned all the time for everyone. It didn't. We were very late starting on the road and what's more under a foggy sky plus heavy rain with screen wipers going like mad. Country roads in Ireland are romantic the first time you drive on one. See my description of driving to Wicklow in January. The second and subsequent times it is more of a nightmare... To go and see Patricia's pottery I was the passenger, so, it was not too bad!

See: The Potter's Yard  www.thepottersyard.com


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On Friday 15 March, after having enquired previously at the Tourist Office in the old fortress at Eniscorthy, I ventured with my own car to find the Kiltrea Pottery. I had been told to take the top road to Kiltealy and at the round about to turn left. That took me wandering on a narrow busy country road until I decided to turn back and drive to the round about again. The sign for the Kiltrea Pottery is there pointing straight on. How far? Not far. How far is 'not far'? This is the major problem. Luckily there were signs for the Kiltrea Pottery at irregular intervals. At one stage I had to leave the sort of main road onto a very country road. Pot holes to the pottery. When I finally got there, I thought I had been crossing a continent... but in number of kilometers, t'is true, it is not far from Eniscorthy.

At the Kiltrea Pottery I was welcomed by Johanna who listened to my story and showed me around their huge workshop with a giant kiln firing their next load for the Easter sale on at the end of the month. She also gave me some addresses of other potters to visit and praised the Kilkenny arts centre so that I felt I had to go and see it. I didn't that very day but I will drive to Kilkenny soon.

See:  Kiltrea Pottery   www.kiltreapottery.com


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 In the area of Wexford in a village on the other side of the Slaney river called Castlebridge I found a young woman potter in her workshop. When we turned up at her shop she was busy on her computer doing admin work! The weather outside was horrendous, so we lingered in the shop where Mairead Stafford exhibits her work. I particularly liked the 'mermaid green' line. Mairead explained she was going to spend some time with a potter in Greece next May. We wished her good luck and I promised to come back.

See:  Ballyelland Pottery  www.ballyellandpottery.ie

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It is all for to-day. I shall add up as I get acquainted with more potters and add photos when I can use my camera.

08 November 2012

63.Workaway


So far this year I've hosted 4 Helpers. The last one, Natasha from Brazil, staid a week and told me about another helpers network called 'Workaway'. After taking a look at it and figuring that their website was more up-to-date, I registered with them. Here's My profile with Workaway.

There's a lot of misunderstanding between people arriving at a host and people hosting travellers. It is bound to happen: ways and habits are different even between people of the same age group and cultural background, so when you welcome or arrive at someone of a different age and of a different education and sociocultural background, the amazing thing actually is that we CAN get on and work together for a while!

My last 2 travelling guests were very helpful. Aska from Japan and Natasha from Brazil in their own ways enhanced my own life. We chatted and exchanged travelling stories. I am after all an old backpacker myself.

As for exchanging some hours of work against full board, it seems there's a lot of misunderstanding there too. I've heard stories from my helpers that they were made to work 6 solid hours of tedious work like ironing or weeding, for no pay, just full board and no cultural exchange at all. I also heard and experienced that some travelling helpers just enjoy turning up and being fed at your place with no special interest in your life and your ways.

So, I was very happy to find the 'workaway' network, organised from Great Britain and really pointing to the fact that it is geared for people keen to learn about other people and their differences. Nice!

I am now eager to host my next help, member of this network. My 'berryhobby' website here tells the history of that big idea of mine, to open up this village to the outside world a bit, by welcoming hobby potters to my pottery studio. Hopefully someone from the workaway network will be interested to join me in this venture.

Natasha from Brazil with my granddaughter and some harvest from John's garden

Natasha entertaining my grandkids

Halloween pumpkin as end result

19 October 2012

62. US AND THEM


Why can't I just be nodding to what people say? Can't I just shut up and be quiet? No, I can't. So... once again I'll come up with my own view on 'things' and I shall try to put it into words here.

It's not about pottery. It's about travelling and travellers and tourists. I'm a member of a travel-bloggers network called TravelBlog.org and as such I follow a few blogs published there by travellers, backpackers or well-off tourists, all English speaking and mostly from anglo-saxon countries. On TravelBlog.org a few bloggers write in other languages, I've read some in French and in German and seen some in Dutch. The various topics on the forum are all in English. I think I'm going to start a thread called "Us and them" on the forum actually. Apart from being a pacifist song by Pink Floyd, it is also a subject study in psychology regarding identity. For me it is a subject study in Anthropology as well.

Anyway, I wish to start such a debate because I found myself reacting quite aggressively to something I read on various blogs in TravelBlog.org...  I can link this reaction of aggression and/or anger to a few occurrences on similar grounds in my lifetime.

1) In 2010 an Australian woman from north-west Queensland visited me in my native village, here in France. She was coming as a Helper of the HelpExchange network, i.e. to help me with my work thus 'exchanging' a few hours of work against full board. On the phone she had insisted heavily that she wanted to come and help me. She had also said something that shocked me,i.e. that the French don't speak English and that she was happy I spoke very well (you do too, I replied!) so that she wouldn't have to drop her jaw when people talked to her. Then when she was with me, she kept complaining I was taking her everywhere and showing no interest in the area. As she mentioned she liked antiques and garage sales I took her with an English friend of mine to a local 'brocante'. She didn't show any appreciation, kept saying she wanted to find an old type of hat to bring back to a friend in Australia who was collecting hats. She kept looking at my son's French navy hat with a red pompom hinting she'd like to have that. She showed no interest in what I was doing or cooking, reading her book sitting next to me in my loft. I tried to connect with her by asking her to tell me the story of her book but she showed some reluctance to that too. In fact she behaved as if she had arrived at some holiday resort, one of those English speaking places where everything is organised for you and you don't have to bother with the 'natives'. One day I had set the table outside in my garden in the sun. She didn't help me get all the stuff down from the loft where we lived to the garden, spoke to my English friend on subjects of her interest, and again, I repeat myself, showing no interest in anything French or in anything about me. As I arrived in the garden loaded with 2 baskets of cutlery, plates and food dishes, I blew up in anger and aggressively pulled away the sun shade they had put over the table... and then she said she had eye problems and that she couldn't be exposed to the full sun. My aggression level went up to full blast, I could have hit her! I didn't, but writing this down to-day 2 years later I still feel the anger invade me.

2) The other instance I can give here goes back to 1997 when I was living as a crew member on various yachts sailing across the Pacific ocean. I was crew to a nice kiwi guy. He was nice, helpful and, without realising it, somewhat condescending. Sure he was an ingeneer but he only spoke English whereas I was an ethnologist and I spoke more than 3 languages! But never mind that, he was kind and would tell me stories of his long lifetime... without showing any interest in my ways, my nationality, my stories. I got so mad at him that I just left him in Vanuatu to sail on single handed back to New Zealand. That day I surprised myself with the huge amount of aggression and anger that came out of me.

I have other similar instances but those 2 will be enough to illustrate what I'm getting at. Reading blogs on TravelBlog.org I found one fellow saying he was sorry a Chinese general didn't speak English otherwise he could have talked to him, rather than mentioning his lack of ability to speak Chinese instead, and also another fellow showing the photo of a 'native' he had hit in the crutch because he was charging too much for whatever service. I went mad again. It was nothing to do with me but it was that same 'attitude' of total ignorance or lack of interest in the natives 'otherness', difference, alien ways for their own reasons.

So, I'm coming to my title: US AND THEM, with the aim to point out that we are all different and that our differences are to be taken into account, especially when we travel. It has to do with our identity and their identity. Failing to acknowledge other people's identity does lead to aggression and hatred. It's not the idea, of course. When you travel you have some ideal aim to partake of some world citizenship but you are who you are, and they are who they are. Being 'mate' with everyone is culturally signed, you're either an Australian or an American! Speaking loud English wherever you are is also culturally signed, you're British or American. Speaking loud French too... I'm not out of this!      

I guess by writing all this I'm not going to make many friends. Never mind. I have at least aired my anger and aggressivity!

15 August 2012

61. Moving back to St Civran


A long story ending back to square one: I am moving back for real to the house attached to the pottery studio and as permanently as can be!

This pottery studio in St Civran started in 2002, it has been 10 years of coming and going for not much ado indeed! The house was used by family members and stayed empty on and off. I used it when friends came to visit. I came to it a number of times in winter even when the pottery studio was defunct. Now, I am really moving in again. There will be no caretaker and no potter in attendance. I am here to stay!

Me, Frankie, on a hot day in the house in St Civran


The studio-workshop looks like a removalist's storage space but, if the gods permit, I shall have it in working order this winter.

This blog will keep going too...