Tuesday, 25 August 2015

On Tour

It starts around October, deciding which fairs and markets to apply for. The entry forms are down loaded, duly completed, photographs selected and popped into the post box. More and more applications are now by email which involves a certain amount of head scratching, trying to fathom out image size, dpi, jpeg or whatever and yes, they all ask for the information in different ways. Computer skills are something else the potter needs to add to their skill set.
Press send and the zoom noise tells you it has gone or you hope it has. It's just not the same as putting the envelope into the red post box, besides I enjoy the walk down to the village shop and silently saying farewell with fingers crossed for good measure. There is no knowing which events I will be selected for, it could be all or it could be nothing, so it's best to forget about it and get on with making wonderful pots just in case.

Slowly the letters and emails arrive. I quickly scan the letter for key words :- regret, unsuccessful, sorry; the disappointment only lasts a day, the delight much longer and then reality kicks in and the real work starts.

This year I ended up with eight events along with a solo show in Rotterdam, the logistics are scary; Holland then Germany - Scotland, back to Holland and Germany again and finally the south of France, with a few of the big shows in England for good measure, all crammed into just a few summer months. There are ferries to book, places to stay, routes to plan and the display stand requirements are different in every one of them too. Everything from a patch of grass to a market stall, a space on a cobbled square or a street in France. Oh, we need lots of pots as well and bags and wrapping, business cards and a whole bunch of other stuff without which we cannot create a good display and survive. So the David Wright Pottery European Tour 2015 takes shape.

The one thing I can't plan for is the weather, the downside of relying on outdoor venues for exhibiting and selling your work is the vulnerability to adverse conditions. The Pharmacy thermometer in Aubagne read 46 degrees one day, I needed thermal clothing just a week or so before in Cumbria.
Light rain can be accommodated, we call it summer showers, but in Diessen the rain was a horizontal deluge. It was cold too and after a night of high winds and heavy rain, the stall was covered with bits of tree and leaves and everything was soppy wet. High fired pots can take it and are waterproof, but visitors are not and two days of rain rendered everywhere a sea of mud. Standing discussing the finer points of a particular ash glaze under an umbrella with rain dripping off the end of your nose, wet trousers and squelchy boots takes endurance to the limit. Just then the tissue paper flies off into the lake and you realise that it is impossible to dry wet bubble wrap. Aspirations to be green disappear too, when you discover a paper bag is useless in a storm and only the despised, bad old plastic bag will do the job.

Language difficulties are not conducive to selling pots either, we try but Dutch, German, French... Scottish? Your head becomes scrambled, I found myself asking for food in Italian at a restaurant in Germany, the waiter seemed to understand and the food arrived as ordered. I have a translation of my artist's statement displayed alongside the pots. It helps to break the ice and explain the process without too much making imaginary coils in mid air, until I realised that the wry smiles are because vessels has been translated as ships.
Stupid questions are stupid questions in any language. "Will this bowl fall over if I put bananas in it?" take a lot of effort in restraint and maybe it's a good thing that lack of language skill means that I can't suggests an alternative place for placing the offending fruit.

So why do we do it?
Strangely it's very enjoyable, I meet the person who buys the pot, I have fun, go to lots of places that I would not otherwise experience. Eat great food, meet and make friends, share the same hardships and laugh about it. And all because of a few pots.

The Tour list.
Clay2Day Holland
Diessen Ceramics Fair, Germany
Potfest Scotland
Earth and Fire, Rufford
Art in Clay, Hatfield
Potfest in the Park
Oldenburg Ceramics Fair, Germany
Argilla Aubagne, France

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