Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Spode Buffalo Pattern

Spode Staffordshire antique blue & white pottery: Boy on a Buffalo Pattern Pearlware Plate c.1795-1800
Image found at


My new friend Emma took some tiny fragments of ceramic from my World In Pieces (aka China Blues) installation at Creekside Centre to show her parents who are keen amateur experts in porcelain & earthenware. She recently brought back the fragments which her folks had identified and labelled for me...accompanied by a paper written by the Morden Ceramic Circle about the 'Buffalo Pattern', a strange variant of the Willow Pattern...

Christmas 2009

I received my first Xmas card from Debra...a charity card from Waterstone's featuring a Hiroshige Utagawa (1797-1858) print 'Drum Bridge and Setting Sun at Meguro'...Very thoughtful.
She sent it at the beginning of December, but I'm posting it up today because we're just having our first snow of the season...
Photo © Roger Nyle

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Sorcerers

Stayed up late the other night to watch this 1967 horror classic by Michael Reeves and starring Boris Karloff...The old couple in the film have a large dresser full of Willow this segment on YouTube – the plates appear about 9 minutes in!

Whatever happened to the teapots?

The Beeb are broadcasting a short series on the potteries. In "Whatever Happened to the Teapots?" Roger Law of Spitting Image fame goes back to Stoke where the team had their merchandising made (Margaret Thatcher teapots)...unfortunately it's not a podcast, but Law has written here:

Episode 3: "We started off by knocking off the Chinese. The original ceramics were copies of Chinese ware..."
"Until 1800ish, most people got their tableware from the Far East, then a 200-year hiccup in history when we did it, and now most people get their tableware from the Far East..."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Trevor Kiernander

I was recently overcome by acquisitiveness at this year's Goldsmiths MA Show, and bought a drawing by Trevor Kiernander (in the picture above, from left to right, the third one along the top). I am pleased to hear he is now going to be showing in the Xmas show at Bearspace, and will have his own show there in January.

See his website here.

More Frieze

Again, apologies to artists for lack of credits, except Cornelia Parker's flattened silverware at the top, which this photo doesn't do justice to...

Frieze Art Fair

Some naff pix taken on my camera phone at Frieze of some of the things I liked. Unfortunately I am unable to credit the artists...except for the plates which is Richard Wentworth (Goldsmiths lecturer, class of 79)...

Cai Guo Qiang

During Open Studios at Deptford X I had a visit from Amanda Francis (one of the DX committee) who told me of her trip to the Guggenheim in Bilbao earlier in the year where she had seen the work of an artist whose name she couldn't remember. She described it as a giant shipwreck spilling lots of broken china...

So I looked it up. Another fantastic Chinese artist, Cai Guo Qiang. I found a review here. The reviewer (Beth S. Gersh-Nesic) says of the piece: "Reflection-A Gift from Iwaki (2004), is the most sublime work of twenty-first century art, to date. An enormous excavated wooden boat, found in Iwaki, Japan, the hull is filled with and spills out buckets and buckets of mostly white (some light blue) Chinese porcelain figurines, dishes and other common vessels. Its gargantuan scale feels vaguely mythic, as if it came from the bowels of Davy Jones' locker or a Spielbergian movie set. Surely, the most indelible image of the entire show."

Cai Guo Qiang is best known for his pyrotechnics however, and was the Director of Visual and Special Effects for the opening and closing ceremonies in Beijing's 2008 Olympic Games, which of course were so impressive that British viewers twittered that it was all done with CGI.

Cai Guo Qiang's own site:

See a video (and others) made of the Guggenheim show here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Deptford X 2009 : The Tagworts Map

Click here.

Deptford X 2009 : Open Studios

"Inspired by Dance", Deptford X 2009

I made a piece to go into the Arthub Group Show "AHA!" upstairs at 5-9 Creekside, which chronicles the past and imagines the future, using photographs of the view from my balcony at home of the old Deptford Power Station as was in 1980. By 1990, only the tower remained and Canary Wharf had been built. In 2000, the tower has gone and Canary Wharf is joined by two more buildings. By 2010, the new 'Creekside Village' will be complete, and by 2020 I am guessing the view will have changed out of all recognition.

"Inspired By Dance", Deptford View 1980–2020.
Inkjet on aluminium (5 pieces 227x150mm each)
© Sue Lawes 2009

"Inspired by Dance" is the plagarising PR tagline for 'Creekside Village', situated as it is towering over the Laban Dance building.

China Blues inadvertently at Deptford X 2009

Painter Mich Maroney and poet Susan Mackeroy are presenting a sequence of paintings and poems at Creekside Centre, entitled Deptford Quatrains. It's a nice little show.

This means the centre is open and visitors must pass my outdoor piece for last year's Deptford X (as chronicled in this here blog), China Blues.

We have let the weeds grow on the piece (having filled it with fertile mud from the Creek) and the Pink Posse found Hoary Mustard (Hirschfeldia Incana) growing and tagged it.

Deptford X 2009 - Alchemy at Cor Blimey Arts


Deptford Network of Artists ( DNA )
Saturday & Sunday 26/27 September, 3/4 October, 11am-5pm
Cor Blimey Arts, C101 Faircharm Trading Estate, Deptford, London SE8 3DX

An exhibition by artists of DNA (Deptford Network of Artists) about transformation: turning base metal into gold; elevating the material world into another; the aspirational world. It will include ‘The Alchemical Banquet’, a wedding feast for the eyes. This will be a collaborative work exploring the relationship between the art object, its creators and consumers through alchemical eyes.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Deptford X 2009 - Alchemy

DNA (Deptford Artists Network) have devised a collaborative show called 'The Alchemical Banquet', as part of an open submission for DNA artists called 'Alchemy'.

The banquet idea was too good to miss: artworks to fit into a place setting (on a table) of approximately 35cmx35cm.

I finally finished "Creekside Willow With Vultures", submitted it for the show and await to see it arranged on a table with other artists' contributions...

I had other ideas for presenting this piece, but that can come later.

Creekside Willow With Vultures
Permanent marker on plastic plate
© Sue Lawes 2009

Deptford X : 25 September – 4 October 2009 : TAGWORTS

It's that time of year again.

For this year's Deptford X I have been collaborating with a certain botanist on a project called TAGWORTS. We have been 'tagging' the wild flowers (weeds, to you) with their English (common) and Latin names all over Deptford. My botanist identified several species which may or may not be in flower over the coming weeks and I designed some stencils which we are using with pink and yellow liquid chalk aerosols (sorry, but at least they are water soluable)...

As we have gone along, tramping the streets of Deptford, we have tagged and then photographed the various species, and plotted them on a Google map of the area, with descriptions of the plants. I have tried to steer the botanist to the venues where there will be art shows and installations, but he is drawn to the neglected areas that weeds love we've covered a lot of ground.

See the map developing here.

Here are a couple of pix:

Friday, July 31, 2009

Lei Xue

Lionel Openshaw sent me this link...thanks Lionel!

© Lei Xue

More here...

Li Xiaofeng

Maria Clemen sent me this link...thanks Maria!

© Virginia Miller Gallery

"Beijing artist Li Xiaofeng creates clothing from porcelain fragments from the Ming, Qing and Song dynasties and even more amazing are that they are wearable."

More here...
and here...

© beauty-reality

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Glorious Mud

Crikey, it's been a while.

Art has been taking a back seat to work and politics. New design work can be seen at The politics has been about challenging Lewisham Council on their hike in service charges for leaseholders on my housing estate – very time consuming.

A couple of months ago I thought about dismantling my China Blues piece at Creekside Centre. But we decided to cover it in mud instead and see what grew from the fertile sludge. Here's Kate Coss, manager of the centre, having just splattered the world (and herself)...

Since then, a few wild flowers (weeds to you) have popped up, but the mud has dried out quite a lot.

Meanwhile, have just completed proposals for this year's Deptford X which is coming round again in September 2009. Whether I get to be part of the programme or not, it is time to make some stuff.

Also, there is now a Deptford Art Map:
A few locations on Creekside are missing, but no doubt this will be rectified in due course...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Creekside Open

I finally got round to making my own version of the Willow Pattern. It's been fermenting for a while, but delayed in execution. I was trying to get hold of some round ready-made canvases but Cornelisson's who usually sell them were out of stock. I was also thinking of hanging out at Ceramic Biscuit Cafe in Greenwich and drawing a plate there and have them fire it...

With the deadline for submissions to the Creekside Open ( approaching fast (last weekend), I found myself, three days before the deadline, helping friends with their submissions (getting images onto CD) but was undecided over what I would submit if anything. The artist Mark Wallinger is one of the judges. Wallinger won the Turner Prize in 2007 (

The thought that Wallinger, of all people, might actually get what I've been doing made me get off my arse and begin my Creekside Willow. I nipped off down the high street and bought some white plates (paper, plastic and ceramic) in all the pound shops. The last pound shop I tried sold the perfect plate - big enough for an image and beautifully plain. At the newsagents I bought some blue permanent markers. These worked fine on the plastic surface and I transferred a drawing I'd been working on (with the help of collaging images on the computer) to the plate.

It turned out a bit wonky, but then the original Willow isn't exact either. It's an idealised version too - some buildings are still under construction and there should be more of them. Plus the two churches (St Paul's in Deptford and St Alfege's in Greenwich) ought to be in there...and there are no people on the bridge...

Creekside Willow With Vultures 30cmx30cm Plastic plate with felt tip

The plate was finished the night before the deadline day, but I still hadn't invented a border for the plate, so I got in touch with Nick Bertram at Creekside Centre and obtained some Creek mud...I was remembering seeing plates half buried in the mud in the Creek.

The mud links into the subject of the Creek, mud as clay, and the potteries that used to be here. I donned waders and dipped the plate in...

Creekside Willow With Vultures and Creek Mud

I took a bucket of mud back to the studio with me to set up a different presentation. If presented in a gallery, the mud would dry out, so I didn't really get it how I wanted it here - it's still wet and there wasn't enough of it.

I also tried presenting the plate on a Chinoiserie-style wallpaper sample that I'd picked up recently from B&Q. This gave me the idea of redrawing the wallpaper to show the pale pastoral scenes as more contemporary, but there wasn't time to do this.

The deadline was at 5pm on the Saturday and I made it with minutes to spare. Submissions were to be handed in at the APT Gallery where there was a show on of three female artists. One of these artists, Toni McGreachan, remarked on how many people had been into the gallery that day - she had counted over 70 - and most of them were delivering Creekside Open submissions.

The chances of being picked are next to zero, but I am glad that having the opportunity to enter gave me the impetus to start working on this idea...there's still some way to go: explore the contemporary Chinoiserie-style wallpaper idea, and work on a border (or ribbon) for the plate...perhaps made up of financial motifs like the Royal Bank of Scotland logo. RBS are one of the partners in the Creekside Village development. But the development is still going ahead; they seem to have completed the underground car park and are beginning the ground floor structure. You don't have three cranes on site if you're not doing anything.
I should really make more of those glass shards on my plate.