On the tiles – parish map

As an adjunct to “Beer” and “Tile Art” posts, if you are visiting Wye Valley Brewery to purchase any of their ales, turn 180 degrees and take a look at the gable end of Stoke Lacy Village Hall. The Village Artmark scheme, funded by Herefordshire Council in 2005 selected local maker, Mark de la Torre (also showing tiles at Tinsmiths during our Tile Art show), to make a piece of art for the Village. He worked with local people to create a Tile Map approx. 8mtrs high by 4mtrs across which maps the contours, field names and features of the parish with photographs and sketches from villagers fired in to the ceramic surface.

Tile Map of Stoke Lacy

Tile Map showing sketches and photographs to illustrate.

Tile Art, Tinsmiths

Our Tile exhibition opens in a couple of weeks, so I’ve been thinking a lot about the use of tiles, the ways that they are produced and used. Last month’s visit to Jackfield Tile Museum at Ironbridge really helped. The museum is housed in the original offices of Craven Dunnill est. 1872 with the adjacent factory open to the public on specified days.

Craven Dunnill at Jackfield, tile press

Jackfield Tile Museum & early tile press

Press technology developed in the nineteenth century remains the industry standard; the  presses (now hydraulic) ram clay powder into plaster moulds to produce flat or textured tiles. Despite the use of hydraulic presses, the production line is still very labour intensive – perhaps not in comparison to our “potter’s tiles” in the exhibition – but in terms of modern factory production, this is very “hands on”.

making encaustic tiles at Jackfield

Rammed, textured tiles for slip infill – aka encaustic

The museum area is fascinating – my favorite room being the light, bright Design Room which now houses a snap-shot of art history through tiles 1840 to 1960 and the most fabulously tiled employees “loos”. As most people know the heyday for decorative tiles in this country was undoubtedly the Victorian era; a time when anything that could be decorated, would be.

The Crown Liquor Saloon, Belfast

At the Tile Museum I was particularly struck by a reconstruction of a Victorian bar – where tiles were made that formed an arc both horizontally and vertically and had decorative textured surfaces – just think of the engineering involved and the confidence that sales would justify the set-up costs. Perhaps this is easier to imagine when one realises that this small area of Jackfield (home to the largest encaustic tile factory in the world in the 1870s, Maws & Co.) produced more tiles than anywhere else, the factories even had their own railway lines and exported worldwide.

The Trade Showroom and loos at Jackfield

The Trade Showroom & Employees Facilities at Jackfield

But what of contemporary tile use today? With architectural projects spending millions on polished concrete for the outside of their buildings, is their anyone considering extensive use of tiles as an alternative? Well, a quick google search reveals lots of ceramic cladding, a few plain glazed flat tiles covering large areas but oh,  for the colour, pattern and texture that there could be……architects, designers awake….. if anyone has some invigorating examples of architectural tiles, please send them in to us. In the meantime do come and see Tile Art at Tinsmiths from 16th March and on-line at www.tinsmiths.co.uk from 23rd.

Floor Tile by Andrew & Claire Mc Garva

Floor Tile by Andrew & Claire Mc Garva

Andrew Davidson at Tinsmiths

We’ve been fans of illustrator Andrew Davidson for quite a time now and so when he said yes to an exhibition here in September next year, we were cock-a-hoop. Here are some examples of woodcuts, wood engravings and textiles he has created. Such a feel for wildlife, movement and line is really impressive. Andrew has been working with Stephen Lewis at Lewis and Wood for a couple of years now. Stephen’s company is especially good at working with artists and designers to successfully interpret their work into textiles, working on colourways and pattern repeats to make some wonderful linen and linen union fabrics that are really lovely to have in the home. For this exhibition we will be taking that interpretation further by presenting Andrew’s textiles as curtains, armchairs and cushions in our showroom. Andrew’s framed works will be housed in the original Tinsmiths building and the exhibition will coincide with H.art – Herefordshire Arts Week (14-22nd Sept 2013) so there will be over 100 open studios to visit too – a really good time to take a break in Herefordshire next year. If you’d like an invitation, just e-mail us here and we will remind you nearer the time.

prints and textiles by Andrew Davidson

Show opens on 14th September and runs until 12th October 2013

Lower Hergest

Having suggested Hergest Ridge in the past, this reminder for those who need to breath deep and look long over beautiful countryside comes with an extra incentive to head towards Kington, Herefordshire. Potter James Stuart Burnett outgrew his London digs a few years back and has established his new pottery at Lower Way Farm, Lower Hergest. I think James would be happy to be described as a “country” potter – his pots fit perfectly in a farmhouse kitchen.

Phoebe and I visited during h.ARt and am enjoying a new serving dish – see below. Creamy slip over a rugged red earthenware, lovely – food looks great in it. He is open now until Sunday 5pm and by appointment at other times.

When visiting take the Brilley road from Kington along the foot of the ridge and look out on your left for the very unusual Hergest Court (dating from 15th century – but probably much earlier) standing on an easily defensible position on a rise over the River Arrow. I note that the court is open by appointment with the estate office and with a month’s notice – checking my diary now……

Also, if visiting in Spring take a look at Hergest Croft Gardens, the home of the Banks family well known for plant explorations in the 19th century – with many Himalayan species propagated for the first time in this country at Hergest. Rhododendrons and azaleas are spectacular Park Wood, the formal garden and nursery a treat for plant lovers.

Herefordshire Arts Week 8th – 16th September

Guides to this year’s Arts Week have just arrived – a very good reason to stop work for a cup of coffee and a browse through 40 colour pages of art from around Herefordshire. You can pick up your guide from Tinsmiths – libraries or Tourist Offices around the county. Well worth planning a route – or rather several day routes as the spread has never been so good.

Herefordshire artists are getting ready for this, the eleventh annual arts week, now well and truly established in the county’s calendar. Over a hundred venues open for visitors during the eight day event – the majority being open studios. Herefordshire Museum and Art Gallery host an open exhibition, whilst an exhibition for new artists “Herefordshire Young Open 2012” is staged at the Courtyard Arts Centre. At the back of the h.ARt guide you’ll see a list of demonstrations and workshops for visitors who would like to have a go themselves.

Of course, the participants want to sell their work. But the arts week isn’t only about selling; it is a chance for the artists to stop and think about where they go next, creatively. Putting together your own display is really good for focusing the mind and talking to visitors about what you do and why is also a very good process that helps the artists to take stock. You may or may not be in the market for a large imposing oil painting but the artists appreciate your interest and hope that you will spread the word – h.Art really isn’t to be missed.

This year, Tinsmiths is hosting an exhibition by potter, Stuart Houghton. You may remember that this is Stuart’s second (or even third) career and that he began it here in 2008. This exhibition “Potter’s Progress” brings us up to date with Stuart’s latest work and the exhibition will continue until 6th October. Come and see his progress here at Tinsmiths and visit his nearby pottery, which is open during h.ARt.