Suddenly a rickety-looking cab (it has definitely seen better days…) appears outside the front of the hotel and a strange man and lady have come to collect me to take me to the Pottery Workshop. After some introductions we head off and it’s goodbye to Diana for a few days. I’m driven only a short distance (certainly less than a couple of kilometres) and have completely no bearings at all and we pull up on a small road that runs between two main roads. It’s like a different world here… it’s own little community.
The Pottery Workshop artist residency (© Deanna Roberts 2016)
I’m led to a long building with a cafe and gallery downstairs and notice other little shops, a bar and pathways leading to mysterious places. I’m shown upstairs to my room, the bathroom and kitchen areas and the studio space where I first meet Leanne, Maggie, Camille and Emily sitting at a table with Huang Fei who is guiding them through the art of cobalt painting on ceramics. Looks interesting. Definitely have to find out more about what’s going on there. It’s nice to see some Aussies again whom I seem to have an instant rapport with.
Huang Fei and his finished demo piece (© Deanna Roberts 2016)
My work table is large enough for me to spread out my creativity and we manage to shift a potter’s wheel into position and on to a few bricks for me to comfortably work on for the next few weeks. I’m somewhat in awe of this large studio space. It’ll take a bit of getting used to but I’m revelling in the huge amount of natural light and so relieved to find airconditioners and fans running. It’s soooooo hot and humid right now. You only need to move an inch to build up a sweat.
Travel hint no. 13 – Drink plenty of water.
I look around the space and notice that some of the other artists are quite prolific and churning out the work. Others are happy to sit and sketch, modelling clay a little bit at a time. Each artist at their own pace. I’m in a good place. Like-minds all working together, harmoniously and quietly, subconsciously and productively.
Pottery Workshop studios – Jingdezhen (© Deanna Roberts 2016)
This studio is all part of the Sculpture Factory. There’s a lot of history behind it and I’m yet to learn more about it. It’s not a factory as I’d imagined, ie it’ not a large warehouse type of setup or a group of them; it’s more like a village, with small pockets of experts dotted around. There’s a mystery around every corner an buckets of history to go with it. I’m shown the 3 public kilns, the dining room, the mould-makers, the shops, the cafe, the bar and the office, where the local constabulary has rocked up to register my arrival. I hand over my passport again and wait while he completes the paperwork and speaks a lot of Chinese to the office staff. No point in me listening really. It’s not like I have a clue what they’re talking about.
All I want to do is rest now. I’m exhausted after the flight, the hotel, the Sculpture Factory tour and the stairs… up and down, up and down, up and down. I can see this is going to be challenging in more ways than I imagined. Humidity, stairs, language… mmm.
Collapsing into my bed… OMG, it’s like lying on a brick. If you like firm beds then this is for you. If not, be prepared for a lot of spinal adjustments and a few sleepless nights. At least I have a great view.
View from Pottery Workshop residency (© Deanna Roberts 2016)
Travel hint no. 14 – Bring a self-inflating mattress if you prefer your creature comforts.
I do, however, sleep rather well. I guess exhaustion contributes to that. Felt good to shut my eyes; really, really good.