Welcome to Chris Geeson Potter in residence

We would like to officially welcome our artist in residence Chris Geeson. Chris will be here working in the department for the duration of this year producing his own work and helping out with students work. Chris studied at De Montford University in Lincoln. We asked him a few questions about his experience with clay.

You work and teach at the Place in Sherwood, how did you get involved in that? My mother has run the pottery business for the last 25 years so it’s a family business. I’ve been working there for 14 years. How do you find the people that you teach respond to clay? Most people respond to it really well, it’s  a very intuitive medium to work with because its natural. What’s your first memory of clay? Making a pinch pot when I was about 11. What kind of clay do you like to work with? I prefer coiling or sculpting using highly grogged clay. What inspires your work? Natural forms anything which has texture. My forms can be quite plant like. Who is your favourite potter? I find work by the sculptor Barbara Hepworth inspiring and the pots of Peter Haynes.  Haynes often abandons his pots in rivers and the sea and leaves them to be worked on by the elements. Do you like to use colour? I like to use coloured clay bodies instead of lots of glaze on my pots. What do you love most about clay? That you can make it into just about any form that you want. What’s the most frustrating thing about clay? The chance that work might split or not survive the firing process, this can be very disappointing. What do you hope to gain from this residency? It will be good to get experience working with other people and of course to have the time and space to make my own work! There is not much opportunity to do that when you teach! Coffee or tea? Coffee, Black.

Chris burnishing his pot with a spoon.

Chris burnishing his pot with a spoon.

Interested in pottery? then why not contact ‘The Place’ in Sherwood Nottingham, for course dates and  information.

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Feeling negative

Well at long last and after several technical hitches the darkroom is (nearly) up and running! With the unfaltering aid and enthusiasm of sixth form photographer Raffie Charles , we have converted the old unused physics dark room already helpfully fitted with a safe light and extractor fan, (currently serving  as a book store) into a working darkroom. After finding and borrowed varying levels of kit, most importantly our enlarger, (without which we couldn’t develop our negatives into prints) we were on our way. Its been a bit of a steep learning curve, after years of not having the facility of a darkroom or a film loading camera (mine was unfortunately stolen some years ago) I’ve had to re-learn from scratch most of the basics, as it has been about ten years since I did this type of ‘old school’ film photography. Nothing can quite beat the magic of watching a picture develop onto light sensitive paper. After experimental dabbling with contact prints it was time to get serious, load up the SLR camera and get out there to shoot some film.


Durst enlarger in parts as we try to work out how to put a new bulb in…




















Literally seconds after plugging in our fab enlarger, the bulb goes pop.


2 pin point plug from Maplin, only £4.99. Love Maplin!










Time to get that film developed. Have you ever tried opening a film canister in total darkness using a tin opener? (not the correct tool use a bottle opener as this works much better). Open the film canister at the bottom, the flat bottom, not at the top! My first mistake… Luckily for me I have practiced winding film onto a reel in complete darkness with practice film. Unfortunately this utterly failed to help me as I wrestled with getting this particular film wound onto the reel in a complete panic in total darkness. Half an hour later, and bingo!

Remember you need total darkness when handling film, no safe light is safe!

Remember you need total darkness when handling film, no safe light is safe!

All thanks to the physics technician for helping me do some maths and get the chemicals mixed correctly and at the correct temperature 20C to be exact for our 400 speed film. We developed for 7 and a half minutes stop one minute and fix 3 minutes. After all the chemicals had been worked through in the correct order: DEVELOPER, STOP and finally FIX. The film was washed for 5 minutes in running cold water, and  hey presto…

Ta da!

Ta da!

Hey presto one 36 shot film developed and ready to print exciting stuff!
in the frame

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Goodbye Starman


Too much make up? I think not…











Like so many this week I was both shocked and greatly saddened to hear of the death of David Bowie. Cancer it seems is indiscriminate in its choice of  victims taking our friends and our hero’s away, in equal measure. Bowie was not just a musician he was a walking work of art. A human chameleon who changed his appearance as frequently as his musical style, and what style he had. There are few in this world who could make a jump suit look cool, but David was definitely one of them.


David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust jumpsuit designed by Kansai Yamamoto in 1973

























The music was nothing short of genius. The hair and make up was interesting, to say the least!

Labyrinth 2

You remind me of the babe











I could ramble on endlessly about all my favorite songs albums and films but it would be far better to just sit down and chill out to some serious Bowie,  that’s the best way to remember him or get to know him, if your an absolute beginner.

Bowie the man may no longer be with us but the music will always be here and what a great legacy to leave behind.


David Bowie the Thin White Duke











But  can we learn anything from the life of David Bowie? I think so. We can learn that its ok to be different. That you don’t have to fit into a box, that you can make your own rules and break them. That to be brave sometimes you have to be different, and that change can be exiting and positive.

So goodbye starman  we will miss you.




He told me

Let the children lose it

let the children use it

Let all the children boogie


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Christmas re-post

Apologies for anybody attempting to read the blog recently, due to a technical hitch some posts have been deleted and cannot be recovered, so I am re-posting our sixth form Christmas card for those who didn’t have the chance to see it the first time around.

Final nativity shot

Final nativity shot


The original nativity painting

The original nativity painting


Here is wishing everybody a Happy New Year!Nativity 1

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Rocker makes top potter

Jim this weeks top potter

Jim this weeks top potter

blind 1Well there was me thinking making a wash basin was a pretty boring task to set on the ‘throw down’  this week, how wrong can you be! That’s  a tough ask making a hand built wash basin in a week, although it must help if you’ve got a state of the Art drying room. Who wouldn’t love one of those? Drying out large hand built pieces can be extremely difficult if you don’t want cracks! I thought Jim deserved to win with his turtle themed piece, just beating teacher Mathew to the top spot with his stamped Aztec inspired design.

It didn’t take them long to come up with the idea of blind throwing and it kept me suitably amused. I shall definitely be giving that one a go.

I thought the judges were perhaps a little harsh on James this week, although his tiles were terrible, I still liked his abstract textured basin design.  Lets hope James can pull back from the brink next week.


Most handsome potter?

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Ceramics on show


I have been inspired this morning to  blog about how much I enjoyed the ‘The Great British Pottery Throw Down’ last night. Pottery’s answer to the Great British Bake Off (which it has to be said, the lack of, has made me quite bereft) No longer will my autumnal Tuesday evenings be filled with the gloom of a long winter ahead, instead they will be uplifted with the joy of watching a group of Britain’s best budding potters facing a variety of technical challenges. Last night we watched our potters race against time to throw as many egg cups as possible, make a set of 6 thrown bowls: which would stack inside one another and how to pull the perfect mug handle! A joy to watch, and highly amusing! If you know nothing about pottery its a good intro to the basic techniques and processes involved. It also (very briefly) demonstrates the amount of  skill involved in making thrown pottery. I’m loving it. Its about time potters got to be in the limelight.

Programme Name: Great Pottery Throw Down - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 1) - Picture Shows: Sandra, Matthew, Sally-Jo, Jane, James, Jim, Keith Brymer Jones, Nigel, Kate Malone, Tom, Rekha, Joanna - (C) Love Productions - Photographer: Mark Bourdillon

Programme Name: Great Pottery Throw Down – TX: n/a – Episode: n/a (No. 1) – Picture Shows: Sandra, Matthew, Sally-Jo, Jane, James, Jim, Keith Brymer Jones, Nigel, Kate Malone, Tom, Rekha, Joanna – (C) Love Productions – Photographer: Mark Bourdillon




 What took them so long to think of it? Also check out Keith Brymers website to watch some very entertaining videos about pottery!

Watch it on the BBC channel 2 every Tuesday 9.00pm

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Goya or Auerbach?

There are some pretty terrific art shows on at the moment, and on a trip to London I had one day to choose two shows to go and see. My choices were very contrasting although both could be called portrait painters in their own right one, Goya has long since died but his work lives on through his famously dark, gothic paintings and prints. These nightmarish visions are what Goya is probably best known for, however he started off as a ‘humble’ portrait painter, finally gaining fame as the official Royal Family Portrait Artist at the Spanish Court. Auerbach on the other hand is still working today, painting and drawing around the area of Primrose Hill in London, producing portraits of friends family and the London streets that he loves. You may find the word ‘nightmarish’ might easily describe his work as these portraits are so heavily textured and distorted  its hard to make out who or what they represent. Auerbach is perhaps a more challenging artist to comprehend but I enjoy his thickly layered canvases and abstracted street scenes.

textured face Self Portrait







I especially enjoy his drawing work which is craggy and expressive. Auerbach looks like a man who has fun when he paints. He constantly overworks the paintings, sometimes scrapping the surface back to nothing and starting over. Goya is far more interested in the faithful and honest portrayal of his friends and loyal supporters. His paintings may seem dull after the impact and wildness of the work of Auerbach but at the time they were also revolutionary, as the royal family attempted to be portrayed in a much more relaxed and friendly way to gain the peoples favour during tough times. The dark eyes stare out at you and communicate the close and often intimate  relationship that Goya built up between himself and his models. He does not fail to capture the ugliness of life as well as it’s beauty. Look closer and you will see the often rough and random application of paint which (when you step back) magically turns into a delicate lace veil or a shoe buckle, very clever!

On at the National Gallery








However there are still elements of the darker side present in these portraits, for example in the painting below the infant has some pretty spooky pets which have a rather unearthly look about them.

red boyy















My favourite painting in the show was this faithful rendition of Goya’s , rather large nosed, best friend; Martin Zapater. Goya kept a copy of this portrait by his bedside when he was sick to comfort him, as we would a photograph in our wallet, or perhaps on our phone. Both these shows are well worth a look so do check them out if you get the opportunity.

best friend goya dying









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Beyond limits with year 7

This year the Art departments overriding theme for all lower school projects is ‘Inside/outside’. So, to get us started on some inspiration and visual ideas for the year 7 mural, all of the year visited Chatsworth House. Pupils had the opportunity to explore both inside the house and outside in the grounds. Chatsworth is currently hosting the ‘Beyond limits exhibition. This exhibition contains large scale pieces of sculpture by a variety of artists such as Henry Moore, Allen Jones and Sarah Lucas.


Euan enjoying the lovely views at Chatsworth

chatsworth 2015 1 010

‘Held in Desire’ by Marc Quinn


Inside the house pupils had the opportunity to have a rest and ‘sit down’ on a variety of chairs and benches, which had been inspired and designed for display in specific rooms in the house.

Spinning chairs designed to spin you around like a spinning top

Spinning chairs designed to spin you around like a spinning top


Is that making your eyes go funny too?

chatsworth 4 070

Is it a painting or is it a chair?









chatsworth 2015 1 093

Abstract sculpture by Phillip King
















Outside in the grounds one of our friendly tour guides, Emma: talked about some of the stories behind the sculptures on display, and also told us some interesting historical facts about the house, including how it used to take the gardener two weeks to cut the lawns with a scythe, now it takes seven hours with a ride on lawn mower!



Lynn Chadwick ‘Pair of Walking Figures









Time for a nap on the coach home…

An inspiring and fun trip out was had by all. Pupils will now go back and begin work on the mural project. We will keep you posted on its progress.

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Student Exhibition

Come see our work in the show

Come see our work in the show at Friar Lane

Welcome back to our Art blog after the Summer Break. We are getting off to a good start this year by being asked to exhibit in a student exhibition to be held at Nottingham Society of Artists. Check out the poster for more details. We hope you get the chance to pop in and have a look. Having visited the show in the past the work is often very varied and exciting! We hope to see you there.

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GCSE AS and A Level Art Show 2015

Many thanks again to all those who attended our end of year Art show earlier this week. It was lovely to see so may parents, colleague, friends and students not only from the current cohort but ex students who came especially to visit. Your support is very much appreciated. Pictures of students work will shortly be updated onto the blog. It was great to get such positive comments about the quality of the boys work. Well done to all! The Art department would like to wish all student heading off to university in September good luck!

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