A lot of water has passed under the bridge since the last post and a lot of clay has been rolled. Things have been difficult at school and I have been working hard on making more plates. This is because there is a time limit on this part of the project. In about fourteen weeks time they are taking the kiln off me and closing the school down so I have to be quick to get the work made. This is, of course, part of the project; the ceramics focuses the work in the classroom, the space and the kit there. It also time limits this part of the project so that I have to put everything I have thought about into these plates as some sort of summary of the project ready for the writing up phase in the autumn.

The busyness at school and the quantity of the clay work has meant that this more reflective writing has taken a back seat and most of the writing and thought has been in the learning journals. These have taken on a life of their own and a lot of energy has gone into these. This is partly because I want to develop the idea of the learning journal as much as possible and because they are teaching aids/demonstrations for the uni summer school in August.

I am on Easter break now and the work over the past two weeks has been in the sketchbooks and have been about not doing the project. Exhaustion, a need for a break, not being near the kiln have become subjects for the work. I biscuit fired five blanks during the last week of term to take home and paint with underglaze colours. I was looking for a subject and, after a lot of drifting about and doodling, I came up with the idea of the doodle as a subject. Today I have spent working on two ‘Off Task’ plates. The first one is close to the original sketchbook images. I wanted something that looked like an exercise book covered in drawings. I wanted the image to be what pupils do when they are off task. The off task of the holiday produces a plate made whilst being on task about being off task.

The other plate I painted some underglaze colours on and let them dry in patches. I picked up a Taschen book called ‘Art Now’, looking for an image of that sort of doodle abstraction like Lasker or the Taaffe or Rae. It didn’t have any but I started a drawing based on Ofili and then I was off, looking through the book and doodling around the artists. So it is a mash up of references to really Now art. The idea of it looking like a the doodles of a well informed pupil on their exercise book was sort of the intention. That was the idea anyway.

I know none of these are doodles. I am referencing the idea of doodles or automatic writing, trying to make images of a state of mental drift during the holidays. The driven and obsessive nature of the work at school in grabbed moments is part of the rhythm of school life and of fitting in an art practice around the teaching practice or having the art practice infect the teaching or the teaching infiltrate the art practice. As you like. So I have been trying to make something about the release of that tension and the tiredness of the holidays.

People often say to me that it must be nice to have the long holidays and that it must be nice to get to paint. In fact I tend not to. I tend to spend the holidays lying down in a bit of a slough of despond wondering where all of my energy went. Last week I spent reading ‘The Crimson Petal and the White’ by Michel Faber which is a fabulous book and well hit the spot, being immersed in Victorian London for a week. But not art and not the project. You need a break from all of this though.