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The Humble Grumble

Jean Turner, RPT

   ...the sporadic annoyances & humble mumblings of a Jeannius.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

AWGB Symposium, Loughborough, 2011

Forgotten Garden

I don't know about anybody else - but my mind simply stopped dead the second I walked into the Instant Gallery display area to arrange the display of my offerings to the event for the weekend. In a fraction of a second, all the senses bestowed on me came alive, and it was as though slow-motion began to control the events that took place all around me. The beauty of the items in the gallery already was anticipated, even hoped for, but not quite expected when it happened.

I couldn't have wished for a better start to a long-awaited weekend of turning.
Wonderful - wonderful - wonderful!

Forgotten Garden

This was something I had been told about more than two years previously at a time when I could not afford to go, and impatiently I waited until it was the right time financially to apply for my membership to the AWGB and then await the invitation to apply for places to the seminar. My cheque was in the post like a flash, and the months have crept by with excitement building - longing for the day to arrive. This was the same feeling as when I used to go to the Kite Maker's Conferences each year at Ft Worden near Seattle, only it dealt with a different favourite thing - the turning of wood into beautiful things.

Forgotten Garden

Grating it into first gear, I forced my mind to progress in focus from the awesome view in the gallery to the conference itself, and spent absolute ages considering, deciding, and then re-considering and re-deciding what demonstrations to attend.

Marilyn Campbell was a sure thing with her resin - I had admired her work for years already. John Wessels, hailing from Cape Town, came equal first on the list - with his wonderful pewter work and decorating methods, I just had to go and watch how he does his art, and besides, it would be nice to listen to a good old South African accent again for a reasonable period of time. Hans Weissflog was next on my list of people to watch - his exquisitely made items mostly fit in the hand and are examples of perfection.

Forgotten Garden

Then there were Michael Mocho from New Mexico and Yann Marot of France, two turners I had heard about but not personally encountered before. Their write-ups in the conference blurb were interesting, especially Mocho's demo on ball and socket joints. Then there were the English turners showing their abilities: Les Thorne, a member of both clubs I go to, and who I have had the pleasure of watching a number of times; Paul Coker, the ornamental turner whose work I had seem on many occasions in a gallery near us and who I felt would be able to answer a lot of beginner questions I had about ornamental turning; Nick Arnull whose work I have admired for a long time but who I have not yet met; Tracey Owen, who makes beautifully adorned platters in a style I particularly like and Tobias Kaye and his sounding bowls.

Who to choose?!

Took a long time

It was difficult, but eventually a plan of action emerged, only to be changed, and changed and changed again as the weekend went on.

I watched Marilyn Campbell a couple of times, John Wessels, Hans Weissflog, Michael Mocho and Paul Coker, and in that time my brain was on focussed go-slow - absorbing every grain of speech, moment of activity, slice of expertise and micro-second of demonstration that it could. By the end of day one, I was ready for day two to begin and by the end of day two, I wished we could go on forever.

Of course, it all has to come to an end, or the little grey cells would explode from all the hyperactivity.

The Travelling item

At the banquet I went and asked Ray Key (the grandfather of the AWGB) to give me a critique on the pieces I had entered into the Instant Gallery, only to be told that one of my items (Tic Tac Safe) had been selected to go walk-about with 49 other selected pieces for a year. Had I actually been drinking, I imagine I would have fallen right over with the surprise. Instead I dawdled back to my sleeping place and lay awake half the night, thrilled to the back teeth that someone, anyone, had liked some of my work.

After a safe journey home, it was nice to get back to my family and tell them all about it, but there is just one problem... My brain hasn't wanted to switch back on to real life again just yet - lying awake at night and imagining all sorts of wonderful variations and inspired work as a result of the demonsrations I watched and the people I chatted to and met up with for the first time.

It was a wonderful weekend, and I hope to be able to go to another of these well organised seminars. With a bit of luck a few more members of the clubs that I go to will also come and enjoy the experience.

Next year I hope to go to the AAW seminar in St Jose, and if it is anything like the AWGB Symposium in Loughborough, 2011, it will be a worthwhile trip.