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potfest u.k.

updated mon 31 mar 97


christine cox on sat 15 mar 97

What constitutes standards, who are their purveyors, on what grounds are
judgements made, and what impact do these decisions make on the lives of
working potters?
The perceived wisdom of the art establishment is to make sure the
"innovative", "challenging" or the well established gain maximum
exposure. Unfortunately this does little to promote pottery to the
public at large, and positively discriminates against the working maker,
especially younger, developing potters. The promotion of "standards"
might seem more laudible if there were other establishment strategies to
bring all those trying to make a living from the sale of their work to a
wider public awareness.
As in other countries the majority of potters in the UK have to work
outside the funded establishment. Most work in isolation and devise
their own marketing strategies. This piecemeal promotion ensures that
ceramics will never be widely valued by the general public as a serious
creative force. By putting some on a pedestal and ignoring others the
establishment creates a perception in certain sections of what is worthy
and what is insignificant (at the moment)
POTFEST- an unselected potters market (one man's attempt to level
the playing field a little)
The venue was carefully chosen to put potters on neutral ground. 100
identical spaces with tubular steel walls and a concrete floor. Easy
access for potters and public, 100yds from the motorway. Parking for
1000 cars and a bar on site. 24 hrs before the event each stall (prior
to being power washed) housed cows or sheep with the resulting aroma.
Get precious in that if you can! The venue was Penrith Auction Mart- a
new purpose-built undercover site for the sale of livestock. In more
egalitarian societies-Australia,USA etc, this would not be seen as
adventurous. To the establishment here it was sacrilege. I loved it. The
event would be open to anyone trying to make a living from the sale of
their work. There would be no selection. An "uninformed" public would
make their choice.
The process started in 1994 when 100 potters mainly from the north
of England made the first potters market ever seen in the UK. It
continued in 1995 with 180 but this time the whole of the UK was
represented. A small contingent came from Holland, Belgium, Germany,
Hungary and even a couple, passing through, from New Zealand.The
experiment was looking good. 1996, Visual Arts Year UK, over 200 potters
crammed into every available space. Recently graduated students stood
alongside potters from Australia and Japan and 6000+ public marvelled at
how an event like this could happen in a cattle market 300 miles north
of the country's "cultural centre"
I feel the experiment has been justified, and the fears of the
establishment proved wrong
a)SELECTION - By embracing all levels of expertise and sharing
knowledge, confidence and competence have grown over the three years.
Students away from the hallowed halls make a more informed transition
into the reality of the potting community.
b)VENUE -People excited by creativity don't really care where they find
it. In the buzz of a market environment they can talk on equal terms
with the maker and become part of the creative process.
c)LOCATION - Ease of access is more important than a high density
population. 100 miles of motorway can be quicker than 10 miles of city
With the start of a new millenium wouldn't it be a good idea to see
the art community as an inclusive rather than exclusive part of society.
Let's re-evaluate the structures that put our work in front of an
audience and allow everyone an equal chance to grow.

POTFEST 97 AUGUST 8,9,10 250 potters. Where are you USA?
Come on in Uncle Sam
Geoff Cox

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Russel Fouts on sun 16 mar 97


>> POTFEST- an unselected potters market (one man's attempt to level
the playing field a little) <<

Sounds like a great idea. I the fair is unjuried and you only have 250
spaces then it must be first come, first served?



* Russel Fouts, CI$: 100021,23,
Bruxelles, Belgium
Internet: 100021.23@CompuServe.Com

"It took more then one man to change my name to Shanghai Lil."