Lights, Camera, art in Action!

In my previous blog post I talked about the journey to Art in Action (AiA) – the hurdles I overcame with the help of loved ones and how the stage was set. 

An analysis of the event is needed though (and is now much overdue)…

My four days at Waterperry were an amazing experience to be a part of. Life-changing, life-affirming and inspiring!  Never before had I gathered so much work in one place and never before had I had such an audience.

James Ort at Art in ActionJames Ort at Art in ActionJames Ort and owl at Art in Action

The team who run AiA did an amazing job of looking after us artists.  We were fed and watered, guided and supported.  We couldn’t have asked for more.

Minutes before the show was due to start, Raymond, the coordinator of the Newcomers Tent, gathered all of us together in a circle. He gave an encouraging speech and led a mindfulness mediation to mentally prepare us for the days to come.  It really helped; it united us artists and calmed us for the throngs of people. Normally 10,000 tickets are pre-purchased online; Raymond informed us that this year 30,000 had been sold.  Gulp!

james_ort_at_art_in_action_17The first morning was frantic as waves of visitors descended on Waterperry.  Our marquee was packed with people – doing a demonstration was going to be tough inside so I decided to pitch up a demonstration area outside the tent.  Armed with my slab roller, clay and tools, I put on three demos a day. They drew big crowds and provided a great platform to show people how I do what I do and plug the Phoenix Studio where I work. I was in my element!

I quickly got into my stride and the four days all merged into one long episode. I caught up with friends from the studio and met wonderful new people too. I sold a good proportion of my work and shifted a few postcards – thanks to everyone who made a purchase and made encouraging noises! It was interesting to see which pieces were more popular than others and which ones divided the crowd (namely my orangutan on a crucifix!).

Orangutan on a crucifixLoads of business cards and flyers were picked up which was a great way of promoting my clay animal classes and the studio.

I made lots of interesting connections with creative folk and was inspired in so many ways. Meeting other artists was great, not only in terms of seeing their work but also sharing ideas, techniques and artistic approach.  Just some of the standout meets were Cisca Jane with her amazing crystalline glazes, Brendan Hesmondhalgh with his epic sized ceramic sculpture and words of encouragement, Hannah Tounsend for sharing the processes she goes through when making her art, and so many more…

I don’t want to rabbit on for ages but here are some memorable moments:

  • Selling my cheetah sculpture (and all my other pieces) was a great feeling. It’s lovely meeting the buyers and knowing that people like your work enough to pay for it!

Me and the wonderful Kate MaloneMe and Keith Brymer Jones

  • Meeting Kate Malone and Keith Brymer Jones, the judges from the BBC’s Great Pottery Throw Down was great fun. What a lovely, friendly and inspiring couple of artists. They were so approachable, supportive and kind. Kate even invited me to a private view and picnic for her friends and family at her awe-inspiring Waddesdon show (well worth a visit – ends on 16th October).kate-malone-private-view-2kate-malone-private-view-6
  • The Saturday night banquet was amazing. Terrific food, fine company and a great atmosphere in the big marquee.  My next blog post is going to be discussing AiA and I will cover more about this then.
  • Acquiring a Cisca Jane pot to give to a very special someone!
  • The coronation chicken rice salad provided for free by the Art in Action team for lunch every day. I was having withdrawal symptoms after AiA. I’m so upset I may not ever taste it again.
  • Taking the time out to do a post AiA analysis on the evening of the last day also proved valuable in assessing how well I did and more importantly, what I would improve in the future.

I could have so easily not shown at AiA this year – I have been at the studio for 6 years now and for a fair few of them I have talked about applying. This year was potentially the last ever AiA and I could have missed it had I not seized the day.

The main lesson learnt:

  • The world ain’t going to bite just because you think you’re nice!

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