See also: ‘Clay, Tools, and Tooling’
In a huge upstairs floor the size of an aircraft hanger, Red Bank Manufacturing Company welcomed me to work alongside the clay workers of the Specials’ Department for 14 months. I was given a workbench, a metal bucket and unlimited clay. There were 400 men and two women at Red Bank, including me. On my first day I asked for some clay: A pallet load arrived. During my stay there, I designed and made over 100 chimney pot sculptures, some of which are seen on the catalogue-come-invitation card. Anyone could order from it.
The experience of working alongside the clay workers at Red Bank challenged many of my ideas about being an artist: innovation in relation to tradition, the original artwork in relation to the manufactured, an artwork compared to design or craft object and working as an individual compared to working in a team all came up during the course of my stay. Propped on our workbenches during a tea break, filling a mold or making a series of pots, we talked endlessly about theses things from our different points of view. We always came back to our shared interests in two things: one was how words can sometimes be misleading or not really do the job well enough and the other was in tools, which led me to write, ‘Clay, tools & tooling’.
In the Specials Department it became clear to us that words could be limiting and sometimes not able to define or name a person, process or object in a full sense. For example, were clay workers to be called workers, craftsmen, specialists or clay worker? What was I? An artist? An artist making chimney pots….that didn’t seem to add up! And what then was I making? A sculpture or a chimney pot art or design or craft? In the end, the name Chimney Pot Sculpture or CPS, emerged, the clay workers decided they would be called clay workers and that no matter how many chimney pots I made, I was an artist.
Some of the Chimney Pot Sculptures can be seen on buildings in Cardiff such as CPS23s on Mill Lane in the city centre or CPS20s on houses in Pomeroy Street and Clarence Embankment. In the summer of 2000 they could be seen in Cardiff’s Central Market, at the Cardiff Bay Art Trust and at the National Museum & Galleries of Wales. In 2000, Red Bank Manufacturers received a ‘Commendation for Business Sponsorship of the Arts’ for their sponsorship of the Skyline project. The Cardiff Bay Art Trust invited me to make a public artwork and were joint sponsors of ‘Skyline’.