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A Potter's Moll: Relaxed Armpits

Liz Robison brings us another rich slice of a potter’s wife’s life. (And try saying that sentence after a glass or two of malt whisky!) This column is brought to you by a lady with very relaxed armpits. Do read on…..

And do visit the Web site of the potter, Jim Robison http://www.jimrobison.co.uk/

I believe there is a saying : ‘What does not kill you makes you stronger.’ This certainly seems to apply to our recent experience of having our car run into three times in six months. Last week we were parked on Micklegate in York in a designated parking area, and as Jim reached into the back door to get his coat out, a Jaguar came bowling down the street and all but tore off the door. Jim miraculously escaped injury, but it could only have been by a split second. When the Jaguar driver eventually stopped and sauntered up the street, he just shrugged and said: ‘ Sorry, didn’t see you.’

This third ‘incident’ as the insurance company puts it, means that all four doors of the car will have been replaced, making us wonder if perhaps we should change cars. That would be a pity as it’s nice to drive, comfortable and economical and we had thought to hand it on to our daughter eventually.

We travelled home with the door tied (nearly) shut with the dog’s lead. Several drivers on the motorway flashed their lights to tell us the door was open, but believe me we knew it was by the draught!

Next day, ‘always look on the bright side of life’-syndrome kicked in and we were able to laugh when the recovery vehicle driver phoned for directions and when I told him how to find our gallery car park, he said ‘Oh yes, love, I remember, I came to your last one’!

The ‘incident’ marred what would otherwise have been a perfect day for a potter and his moll. We were invited by York Art Gallery to see how the cataloguing is progressing of a very important 20th century ceramics collection, the W A Ismay collection. Bill, as he was known to all, collected thousands of pots by hundreds of potters over a period of 60 years in his tiny Wakefield terraced house. Jim was one of the trustees who oversaw the transfer of the collection to York after Bill died.

The curator was working in an unmarked secure industrial unit on the outskirts of York and it was fascinating to see the progress she has made in grouping and identifying many of the works. Also interesting to handle many of the pots by some of the 20th century’s greatest experts (Michael Cardew, Bernard Leech, Michael Casson etc), and gratifying for Jim to see five of his own works in
the collection.

A highlight for me was coming upon a small slip-trailed dish by Sid Tustin, a potter at Winchcombe pottery for 51 years, whom I mentioned in my last column. I had never seen any of his work in real life before.

On to The Lund Gallery in farmland near Easingwold. Jim is to be a featured artist in an exhibition there in August. The owner is very keen to make a success of this beautiful gallery housed in an old dairy building and it will be an inspiring place to display work inside and outside in the garden.

This visit was to dovetail into an evening lecture by Jim to the York Art workers’ Guild which was held in the Jacob’s Well, a medieval guildhall in a narrow street off Micklegate. Despite his recent narrow squeak, Jim put on an excellent, informative and humorous slide talk about his work, influences and inspirations to an appreciative audience that contained several familiar faces of potters we know or people who have attended one of the courses that we run in the studio. In a civilised end to the evening we all sipped glasses of port, but I have to admit we had a nightcap of something stronger when we eventually got home that night.

I bought a new deodorant yesterday; the supermarket’s own brand as I am a bit of a skinflint. It said ‘Lavender, Y-Lang Y-Lang and Patchouli on the label which seemed O K to me. When I came to use the deodorant this morning I noticed that on the lid there was a little label saying: ‘Anti-stress’. So be assured that this column was brought to you by someone with very relaxed armpits! More from me in a fortnight.

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