“We are all amateurs, life is too short to be anything else”, Charlie Chaplin

Cappy Thompson demonstrates her glass painting technique.

Cappy Thompson demonstrates her glass painting technique.

An inspirational second day at the Northlands conference included a fascinating talk by Paul Faber from the Troppe Museum in Amsterdam about textiles printed to commemorate political or significant events in Africa. Paul showed us many examples of these cloths (largely printed in Europe, and recently in China and India) and how they are worn and used as propaganda right up to cloth made to celebrate the election of Obama. Thanks to Paul for the quote above which is going right into my inspirational suitcase!

This was followed by a presentation by Ivana Srámková who showed slides of her beautiful large scale animal sculptures in glass. Ivana is an artist from Czech Republic and her work is beautifully evocative and has a mythical quality…I can feel a trip to Prague coming on!!

We visited the glass studios where I shall be working for the next 9 days. The facilities look amazing and I can’t wait to get started! Cappy Thompson, an American glass painter who is running a course parallel to mine, demonstrated her technique. I got very caught up with having a go at it, so that took most of my attention, the rest of the place will have to wait until Tuesday – what an opportunity!

Of the afternoon lectures Philip Eglin’s stands out. Philip is a thoroughly irreverent ceramicist who has just co-run a masterclass here and who is in the process of moving to Wales and we will be a richer nation for it!

Tessa Clegg’s talk painted a depressing picture of the situation for glass artists and glass education in Britain today and her dissatisfaction with her chosen profession was powerfully communicated. She highlighted the dark side of life as a glass artist, from which she is retiring after a long and fruitful career during which she has produced some of the most exquisite contemporary glass work around.

It was rather a difficult way to end what was an inspirational conference with speakers and participants who were full of knowledge and enthusiasm for their area of work. We all have our dark periods, its just a pity the conference ended on this note because it didn’t reflect the optimistic and enthusiastic attitude of most of the makers I have met.

I am still full of enthusiasm however, and I never went into this expecting it to be easy. Today I am visiting Wick to rifle through the detritus of Caithness life in the charity shops and see what I can find!

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2 thoughts on ““We are all amateurs, life is too short to be anything else”, Charlie Chaplin

    1. Well, I am new to glass, but I know that Tessa Clegg has always been generous and enthusiastic as a teacher and continues to give of her time as a member of the board of Northlands.

      Life as an artist is hard, you have to make your own way, be maker, teacher, marketing person…etc. It can be depleting. Maybe her talk was intended to raise discussion of these things and to raise awareness for the non-artists in the audience. The problem was that it was a powerful presentation and there was no time to recover and respond. Maybe there will be discussions in forums like this and in artists meetings around the country now?

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