January, Feburary, March 2017; Back on track

Hi Everyone,  Sorry it's been a while, time seems to have completely ran away from me.

So far this year I have completed a few commissions, one of which was my Memorial Trinket Boxes. In memory of her father my lovely client, Jeanette, purchased two boxes one of which was for her Mother Lorraine. However this story has a beautiful twist because Sister in Law Toni, a fellow creator who makes her own cards for families birthdays, decided to decorate the box. Jeanette explained her father, "Wasn't one for going out, he loved his birds, feeding them every day and just sitting and watching them. His favorite colour was racing green, hence the green ribbon."

I love that my clients are able to put their own creative spin on my work, this is exactly why I love doing what I do. I hope it provides Lorraine with many happy memories.

Jeanette and her family, along with all of you that completed my online questionnaire, have helped inspire my Memorial Collection. I intend to develop the collection throughout 2017. My redesigned Memorial Photo Frame is almost complete but if you want to see a sneak peak or receive the exclusive preview you will have to sign up to my quarterly newsletter below.

The MOORE TO LIFE Project - I've gone back to the drawing the board with this. Learning from mistakes made last time round I aim to produce a high standard of quality. Next month I hope to have a complete piece ready to show off.

I have also purchased the final piece of my puzzle for the studio, a potters wheel. I have been looking for the perfect wheel for over a year now and not only did I manage to snap up a bargain but it is also my favorite colour, green. There is a little of bit repair work to do on the basin but nothing a little bit of fiber glass can't fix. I'm looking forward to getting it up and running as soon as possible and sharing my out-comes with you. 

I hope to get back on track with my news updates so see you next month! 

October, November, December; Busy, Busy, Busy!


Happy New Year Everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful break over the Christmas period. 
Life has been extremely hectic for me over the past 3-4 months with all sorts of highs and lows it; all started back in October. 

Luckily for me I was invited to exhibit for 'Life, Death, Whatever.' at The National Trust's Sutton House in Hackney, East London on behalf of the Best Funeral Guide. Highlighting the taboo topics of death. It was quite a small affair but wonderful to be part off.  Downstairs they had art work including my own and upstairs for one weekend only funeral services and directors were invited to promote their companies. Sutton House it's self was absolutely beautiful as you can imagine. They always have interesting events happening so pop down if you get a chance. Click here to see: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/sutton-house-and-breakers-yard

For everyone the run up to Christmas is busy but for me this year it was more than that . On the 2nd of November the ceiling in my house fell down. No, not just a section of the ceiling, the entire ceiling, loft and water tank. Water poured down the hall way and into the kitchen which meant the fire brigade announced our house as unlivable and all of us had to find alternative accommodation. The re-build is a long and complicated story but after two months we have finally moved back into our home and feeling extremely lucky.  

   

 

 

As you can see, from the timeline of images above, I have come a long way with The MOORE TO LIFE Project. I’ve got my kiln up and running and each glaze has been tested. I bought a lathe and have been practicing my shape in plaster to enable me to create my moulds ready for ceramic casting. I’ve also been working hard at making sure the mechanism of the lid works.

I have sent out the first round of rewards. This included my Amanda Cotton badges, created using the perfect shade of urine yellow. A surprise gift from my limited edition series of six life drawings surrounding the human body was also included. 

Even though I have come a long way, at this stage, there are many imperfections with the Christmas decorations so unfortunately they won’t be ready in time for Christmas 2016. I could rush to try and complete them before Christmas, but there’s no guarantee the quality would be up to my high standard. 

I will still complete the project it’s just going to take me a little longer than expected so please don't lose faith, keep your eyes peeled for the next update.

Christmas came and went super fast this year. A lovely time was spent with friends, family and my two favorites animals Echo the Gecko and Byron the Hedgehog. 

The end of 2016 was full of ups and downs. hopefully this January will be full of positives so to start 2017 on a high. 

September 2016; Crowd Funding Success

The MOORE TO LIFE Project funding campagin is finally complete & after raising a whopping £785 I couldn’t be happier. I spent ALOT of time celebrating its success with my parents and would like to say a massive shout out to them, not only for their support but to my dad for building me an amazing studio and my mum for helping me organise everything.

Also to my boyfriend Matthew Simcox for putting up with me, my house mates Jeanna Olsen and Claire Marie Walsh as well as Stephanie Lawrence who all help me in every way possible to succeed.

Plus a huge massive THANK YOU to my backers Christina Eagles, Jennie Keane, Clarissa Ferguson, Helen Norbury, Jason Stevens, Tony Winter, Dominic Alves, Lewis Seymour, David Matthews, Emily Rawlins, Curtis Jones, Chris Sladden, Nannie, Sarah Giles, Dan Soltwisch, Samantha Cotton, Frankie Hibbard, Steven Gurney, Christian Kingston, Emily Roots, Pat Simcox, Mandy Negus, Michael Simcox, Karen Baker, Alex Cotton and Shannon Leigh.

Also everyone that took part in my research Clare Thirgood, Jack Cox, Lily Levin, Kaarin Helmers, Lottie Louise Sayers, Steve Eagles and Kelly Gethin.

I’m looking forward to creating and sending you your reward/gifts. Hopefully they will mean as much to you as the project does to me. THANKS EVERYONE! Make sure to check back next month when I'll be updating you on the project.

August 2016; Kilns and Lathes

This August was mostly known for my new concept 'The MOORE TO LIFE Project.'
I owe a huge thanks to everyone who has supported so far. I can't believe that I am able to say that, after 11 days I was almost half way there. Now there's only two days to go, you better get in there quick!

After ALOT of over thinking I finally own a kiln. It's a top loader which helps with space in my studio and big enough to fit a large plant pot shape. Also it's 13amp's so will run from the bottom of the garden without sparking out the electricity in the house, perfect. For a first kiln, my little Hugo the Fuego (Fuego = the model) is everything I wanted. A big shout out to Bath Potters for supplying - http://www.bathpotters.co.uk/

With my kiln arriving there is no way I couldn't have the floor ready, (kilns really are VERY heavy), so as you can see the studio is ready to go and over the bank holiday I spent my first weekend 'pottering' around. I'm ridiculously pleased to say the studio is finally finished!! :)

As a mould maker I like to make all my own originals, (the object you create and then mould so you can make multiples of the same thing), and to do this I decided I needed a lathe. This way I can ensure my original is symmetrical and well quite frankly perfect! Buying a wood lathe meant I needed to create a plaster chuck so to turn it into a plaster lathe. Using my experience from uni I managed to pull it off and you can see me using it in the video below. Watch out for next month when I'm making my originals.  

July 2016; Exhibitions, Documentaries & Campagins

As you know from last month, this July I exhibited in London. http://www.wearesweetart.com/  On behalf of Sweet Art, SHE showcased the work of over 60 visual and performance artists including me as part of the Perform Gender Festival hosted by Ugly Duck. Local and international artists explored the theme of femininity.

Two artists who really caught my attention are Holly Rozier for her piece 'Susan', an insulation which was beautiful yet grotesque at the same time and Rachel Fallon for her piece 'La Befana' a research project into breast feeding.

I exhibited 'Body of Ceramics' 2012 which questions people's preconceptions on a material the nation is obsessed with, hair. Even though hair covers 90% of our external bodies, we find a single strand in our food and we are horrified. As a sculptural self-portrait each ceramic piece translates the measurements of my body, as a whole equals my weight, 7st 11lbs, incorporates my own spun hair and is displayed on a tabletop the same length as my body and width of my hips.
The Ugly Duck location based on Tanner Street was an incredible backdrop for my work and I couldn't of been happier with the set up. It was a privilege to exhibit, with Sweet Art who made the entire process smooth and comfortable.

I was also lucky enough this month to be filmed for a possible documentary which I will keep you updated on but this means, thanks to my Dad, the studio is basically finished :D  Steel racks and storage boxes are in place and the next task is to order my materials and fill the boxes which wont take long.

Back in March I kick-started a project surrounding baubles. Now that my studio is up and running and I have finalised the concept and this month saw the launch of my final idea named, The MOORE TO LIFE Project. In memory of my uncle Howard Moore, who I will always remember for his love of Christmas, I aim to create bespoke Christmas decorations. Although, like my previous work, they will be quite different from anything you have ever have seen before. For more information please click here.

To get my project off the ground I have launched a campaign.You can show your support for as little as £3.00 and in return you will receive unique rewards; from a surprise gift to a day in my studio with me learning ceramic techniques. To make a pelage please click here. I spent quite a lot of time creating my first presentation along with voice over which seeing as it's my first one quite proud off. Please check out the video below and let me know what you think. Next month I will keep you up dated on my progress and hopefully have some designs to show you.

June; Sunshine & Happiness

First off I have some great news... the floor went down in my studio! My dad spent two days ploughing through this and it looks amazing. You would never know that this is only the second floor he has ever laid.
 

Once the floor was down he fixed the skirting board, painted up all the wood and even fitted a little kitchen. So close to finishing now just the lino floor to go down :)

All this was done while I was on Holiday. I think secretly my Dad didn't want me around so he waited till I was out of the country.

Yes, I went on holiday again. This time it was Matthew's 30th Birthday so I treated him to a Holiday in Morocco. We spent eight days in Marrakech including a three day trip to the desert and three days in Essaouira which is by the coast. I wont bore you with in and outs but here's a few pictures to inspire you to possibly take a trip there.

Finally this month, I am please to announce, I have been accepted to exhibit in London with Sweet Art http://www.wearesweetart.com/
On the 30 and 31 July 2016, exhibition SHE will showcase the work of over 60 visual and performance artists as part of the Perform Gender Festival hosted by Ugly Duck. SHE will showcase the work of local and international artists exploring the theme of femininity, feminine identity and issues faced by women worldwide. 

I will be displaying my, 'Body of Ceramics'  so feel free to pop by and check it out.
30 and 31 July 2016 - 47-49 Tanner Street SE1 3PL, in a Victorian warehouse.
Look forward to seeing some of you there.

 

May; Organisation & Productivity

This May, due to a milk tooth over staying it's welcome, I had to visit the orthodontist. It was an expensive experience but my £75 also went towards this x-ray which to be honest I’m pretty pleased with.

You can see my milk tooth on the top right along with my adult tooth above. I also have a couple of fillings and root canal which is the excessive white area on the bottom left - Pretty kwl huh.

Anyways on a more productive note, it was full steam ahead with the studio this month. As you can see the walls are all plastered and glowing white. Now the weather has cheered up the floor will be down in no time and the wood will be vanished. I had my first ever delivery which I’m super excited about; time to do the finishing touches and get organised.

I have also moved forward with the Baubal Project, below are some of the results from my market research. So far I have learnt that, on special occasions, many people celebrate past, present and future and that most feel the same way as me, it's the smaller things in life that count.

So as you can tell I'll be spending most of June,  finishing the studio and preparing my crowd funding campaign in order to kick-start the Baubal Project.

April 2016; The Memorial Photo Frame

This April I am please to announce, that it's official,  I am legally the only person in the UK currently creating Photo Frames made from a loved one's ashes. Patricia Hodson, from Liverpool, owner of patent number GB2441967,  'Method of Making a Frame from Incinerated Remains (human and animal).' has kindly granted me permission to make and sell the frames. My Memorial Photo Frames can be purchased via my website: www.amandacotton.co.uk. 

The Memorial Photo Frames started back in 2014, as always I talked about the idea with friends and family to gain feedback. Through the ‘grape vine’, Sandie heard of my idea and was willing to be my first client to commission me.

Sandie Lawrence “We would be so pleased if you would make a decorative keepsake using my dad’s ashes. I have never known what to do with them as a lasting memory. I didn’t want to scatter them, so the idea of a decorative keepsake is a beautiful thing to remember him by and something we can move with us wherever we live.”

Sandie had held on to her father’s ashes for 11 years so I felt overwhelmed that she asked me to do this, especially since I had never done it before. After frequent tests and a lot of research I finally came to an outcome which both Sandie and I was delighted with.

The creation of these frames was captured by the press, click the links below to read more.
The Argus - http://m.theargus.co.uk/news/11726382.Photo_frames_from_the_ashes_of_your_loved_ones/
The Birmingham Mail - http://m.theargus.co.uk/news/11726382.Photo_frames_from_the_ashes_of_your_loved_ones/
 

It's slightly embarrassing but worth mentioning, earlier this month I stumbled across a picture of me asleep and could help but think me and Ron Mueck had a lot in common. See below picture of my head and Mueck's sculpture: Mask II (detail), 2001, Mixed media 77 x 118 x 85 cm
Ron Mueck is an Australian hyperrealist sculptor working in the UK. Although I have never seen his work in person, I do aspire to one see it as he has been an inspiration to my work from the beginning.
Right to left:
- Mask II (detail), 2001, Mixed media 77 x 118 x 85 cm and my head asleep (Ha-ha)
- Boy, 1999 Mixed media 490 x 490 x 240 cm
- A girl, 2006, Mixed media 110.5 x 501 x 134.5 cm
- Big Man, 2000, Mixed media 205.7 x 117.4 x 209 cm

STUDIO UPDATE:  Freshly plastered walls - Next step a new concrete base for the floor.

THE BAUBAL PROJECT UPDATE: Getting some great result back form this - I'm looking forward to opening them all up next month. To be continued...

March 2016; AMSTERDAM ART!

This March I visited Amsterdam; in London, nine years ago, I was disappointed not to witness 'Body Worlds' the exhibition by Gunther von Hagen, so, as a well done for finishing my website I treated myself to an Amsterdam trip purposely to see the exhibition.

BODY WORLDS: The Happiness Project' in the heart of Amsterdam takes visitors on a journey through the human body, in search of what makes us happy and the impact happiness has on our health. More than 200 real human bodies show the complexity, resilience and vulnerability of the body and how our organs and muscles work. Link: http://bodyworlds.nl/body-worlds-the-happiness-project-en/

The bodies are obviously real, however, I feel the shine they give off detaches you from realising that, this is what your insides look like. Saying that, it really was mind boggling to see these preserved bodies. It's not as squeamish as it first sounds, like my work, it's not meant to be shocking but make you question and understand what the body really looks like.
Of course, I checked out the preserved placentas, see below, and my favourite piece; 3mm thick slices of different human bodies so you can clearly see the differences in organs and how what we do affects our inner body.

Also whilst in Amsterdam I checked out the Stedelijk Museum; an international museum dedicated to modern and contemporary art and design. Link: http://www.stedelijk.nl/en. Over the years I have studied many artists who have influenced my work and it's always a pleasure to see their work on display.

Below left to right:
Richard Long, Blue Stone Circle 1978 - English sculptor and one of the best known British land artists. Link: http://www.richardlong.org/
Christo and Jeanne- Claude, Valley Curtain 1972 - Installed between two Colorado mountain slopes the orange curtain was made from 200,200 square feet of woven nylon fabric. Link: http://christojeanneclaude.net/
 

STUDIO UPDATE: As we enter spring the studio is looking super idyllic at the bottom the garden, see picture below, however inside it's chaos whilst we plaster the walls.

NEW PROJECT; March signified the start of a new project for me; The Bauball Project. I sent out 50 of these packs so people could collect souvenirs over a period of ten days. Next month I hope to have a great set of results... To be continued.

Febuary 2016; 'MADE OF MORE' Craftmanship and Guinness

February 2016, marked my first holiday of the year to Dublin Ireland along with two of my old School friends, Molly and Becky. We had a wild weekend but my highlight was our trip to the Guinness Store House. https://www.guinness-storehouse.com/en  It was more than worth the money and I would certainly like to shake the hand of its designer; it was modern and interactive with an old fashioned twist, excitement could be found round every corner.

Within the Store House is this 12ft 2 tonne pint of Guinness, crafted by more than 20 international carvers and artists. This highly detailed sculpture is said to represent the past and future of Guinness, suggesting it is 'Made of More' which I agree with, it is a beautiful celebration of craftsmanship and collaboration which I adore. I have attached a critic review although I urge you to go see it for yourself whilst you slurp down a pint or two. Critic link: - http://www.creativereview.co.uk/cr-blog/2012/september/guinness-made-of-more/

Byron is now three months old and this month was his first trip to the vets where he was quite the celebrity, everyone wanted his attention. Although he was friendly he was also fairly shy and kept running back to me, which, for the first time, made me realise Byron did know who I was and trusted me. Not only that, both Byron and I left the happy knowing I was doing a good job as Byron got the thumbs up for health. As he fits into a routine and becomes aware of his soundings, every day he grows cuter as he begins to grow a personality.

STUDIO UPDATE: We are in the final few months of finishing the studio, my dad is plastering the walls and then we just need to pour the cement floor, it will be weather dependant but we're aiming for the completion date to be mid-May. Exciting!

Next Month, to reward myself for completing my website, I am visiting 'Body World; The Happiness project' in Amsterdam, so look out for some incredible looking cadavers.

January 2016; New Year, New website, New blog

If you are reading this you are probably already aware that over the last three / four months I have been working extremely hard to completely re-structure and create a new website and brand. I am now pleased to say my new website has gone live, there is still a few tweaks needed here and there but I believe it’s a lot fresher and more contemporary in a methodical, precise manner which sums up my work. I have also been working on a new logo/brand, any constructive criticism is welcome so feel free to leave feedback.

Also I started off the year finishing of this commission,  a hand cast including Dad, Mum and Baby. I am super pleased with it as it’s my first time casting more than one hand at a time. I also used a different plaster which I prefer as it’s stronger, smoother and a lot whiter.

Photography by Matthew Simcox

There is also a time-lapse video which you can watch via my Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/p/BAXASghiYeb/?taken-by=ac_humanbody

For 4 days throughout January London was host to a selection of international artists who illuminated the city in the ‘Lumire London’ event. Even through the streets of London were freezing it didn’t stop people from travelling around to witness these displays of light. Link: http://www.visitlondon.com/lumiere/
The below collection are my favourites which Matthew photographed for me.

‘Lumire London’ Photography by Matthew Simcox

Although top marks went to the LED stick men at Liberty House for the sheer amount of thought and detail that went into the performance.
Link:  http://www.visitlondon.com/lumiere/programme/piccadilly-regent-street-and-st-james/lumiere-artist-groupe-laps

January has came and gone extremely quickly but some how I have managed to fit a lot in, I've got a feeling 2016 its going to be productive.

Happy New Year,
Amanda.

December 2015; Hedgehogs and Santas

This December I created festive cheer by joining a 10k Santa Dash in Memory of Lauren Peck. We raised over £1,000 which we proudly donated to Mind. Mind Charity provides advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. Their aim is to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding. Link: www.mind.org.uk/

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Any one that knows me well, will understand I am not a sporty person, running is a task for me but I did thoroughly enjoy myself. If you read my blog regularly you may remember back in August I did a Body Cast of my nephew Freddie-Lee’s hands and feet which came out beautifully, see below.

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Since then these tiny ornaments have been cleaned up, vanished and attached to a personalised base. My Sister-in Law to be Shannon was thrilled with the results.

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I also made a little trinket box for them to keep Freddie- Lee's baby teeth and first curls safe. The lid is filled with the same composite I used for their Placenta Photo Frame. To top it off, Shannon didn't know but inside the trinket box was also Freddie-Lee's umbilical cord shaped into a heart.

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To round of the year, this Christmas I was given the most extraordinary present, a Hedgehog. He's a tiny little curious thing called Bryon, named after my Australian friends who are originally from Bryon Bay. At the moment, like any pet, we are trying to get him use to being around people, he's extremely nervous when we pick him up and yes, he is super prickly but as soon as he calms down he's SUPER soft :) Different to English hedgehogs Bryon is an African pygmy which means he loves the warmth and does not get fleas. I think he's Cute!

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And that's it an entire year has passed us by. I started this blog for two reasons, One to force myself to write more and improve my spelling and the second reason was to record all the incredible things I manage to achieve. At the end of 2014 I remember saying , 'oh, another year has gone by and I haven't done anything'  My friends certainly didn't agree and quickly reminded me of my achievements. Due to this blog I think it’s safe to say I can't say the same thing this year, I have managed to accomplish more than I could have imagined. I will be continuing on with my blog for another year so keep checking in to see what 2016 has in store. HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE!

November 2015; ART

In light of my work centred around the human body, I have been invited by the RSA, (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce), to become a fellow. Link: https://www.thersa.org/ ~The RSA is a network of people who are dedicated to enriching society and shaping the future through ideas and action.  For me it is an honour to be asked to become a fellow as it shows in their eyes I am recognised as an influential person to society. In the New Year I am going to attend an Artist Engage Social Evening and hopefully confirm my place; 2016 is looking exciting.

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My work has given me a sense of Self-worth which enables me to be ambitious, I am a keen to share this feeling so recently I have been unravelling ways I can use my skills and knowledge. My man aim is to help others so they themselves can strive forward. Teaching is the obvious choice but something else that has caught my attention is working within the Art in Criminal Justice Sector. For this reason I have been following the Koestler Trust.

The Koestler Trust is a UK prison arts charity awarding, exhibiting and selling artworks by offenders, detainees and secure patients. Currently they have an exhibition running in the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank named Re-Formed.

Link: http://koestlertrust.org.uk/pages/exhibitions.html

I won't go into detail as you know I don't like to ruin a surprise but below is my favourite piece, I just love the use of accessible materials and the 'Marmite'  relationship the artist has with the soap. Make sure you check out the entire exhibition sooner rather than later as it's only open for two more days. IMG_0175

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I have finally finished another Placenta Photo Frame and this one is for my nephew Freddie-Lee. I think it's safe to say he likes it.

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I was almost asked by my Brother and his Girlfriend Shannon to do to cast of all their hands. I have never cast someone else's body before however it all went perfectly to plan and I managed to cast three hands and 15 fingers. Once tidied up I'll share the final pictures.

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STUDIO UPDATE: As you can see the garage door is now finally boarded up and units / cupboard spaces are being fitted. Fingered crossed it all be ready by Easter 2016.

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Next month will be my last post of the year so make sure you check it out and see how my year draws to close.

October 2015; AMERICA baby yeah!

This October Matthew and I both made our first trip out of Europe, I'll admit America was never on my list of places to go but we both currently have friends living there so thought, why not? Our first stop was New York, moving from one tourist spot to another we explored every corner. It was a hard decision as there were many to choose from, but, I would say The One World Trade Centre (Freedom Tower) and The Flat Iron were my favourite spots. IMG_2712  IMG_2660 I was determined to walk round the whole of Central Park but obviously it was impossible so I settled for half way. IMG_2562 With Matt being an avid photographer he enjoyed taking panoramic photos. I love this one of The Statue of Liberty, it really looks like she's conjuring up the sky. IMG_2820 Using an old train track New York have recently created a Sky Line Walk. Wiggling through the city, it is a great place to see the sights... IMG_2610 ...and some fantastic public art. I am a huge fan of installation work that engages with the public and this piece did not fail to impress me. These Lego blocks, of all shapes and sizes, began life carefully stacked to represent buildings although continuously passers-by have re-arranged the blocks to alter the appearance of the entire piece. IMG_2594 After two full on days Matthew and I, were exhausted and pleased to be flying off to Orland where for six nights we planned to chill out with our friends Emily and Mark. IMG_3020 It was my birthday whilst out there so Emily and Mark planned a surprise day. The picture below might look peaceful and relaxing but just to the left of us was a 5ft alligator. Bearing in mind it was our first ever time in a kayak and I cannot swim it certainly was a surprise. IMG_3828 Also apparently under pressure I am incapable of listening to instructions therefore, certainly not to Matthews amusement, aiming straight for the alligators was the only thing I seemed to be good at. Saying that, after we (by we I mean Matt) got the hang of how to use the kayak it couldn't have been a more perfect day. IMG_3820 Emily's family have been working extremely hard over the past two years putting Orlando City on the map and Matthew and I were extremely lucky to be invited to a game. Football in America is different to England instead of hooliganism there is a lot of fun and laughter that surrounds the game which, for me, made it much more enjoyable. IMG_2930 Driving down the coast we made our way to The Florida Keys which I thought was out of this world, one second we were on a motor way the next we were on an island. IMG_3375 We experienced many things in The Keys although by far my favourite was Robbie's where we fed the absolutely massive Tarpon, chilled out in the quirky bar by the water and purchased some brilliant trinkets. If you ever visit The Keys I would 100% recommend Robbie's. Link: http://www.robbies.com/tarpon.htm IMG_3405 IMG_3384 We experienced some crazy weather whilst on the island of Sambrero. On one side of us it was beautifully sunny with palm trees and soft sand whilst on the other a storm was brewing. We could see the spray from where a twister was hitting the water all the way up to the clouds. IMG_3435 Although we had our swamp adventure I still wanted to visit The Everglades. We spent a full day at Homestead Alligator Farm where we not only had a ride on an air boat over The Everglades but also watched alligator wrestling and a live feeding. IMG_3609 (2) One interesting fact I learnt was in Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger was 15% muscle and an alligator is 52% muscle! IMG_3533 Also at the park they had taxidermy which helped to identify the appearance of crocodiles and alligators. All these years I thought it was the other way round. IMG_3574  IMG_3570 Finally we visited Miami where we stayed with the lovely Marta. Marta was extremely well know in the artists quarters of Miami and her house was filled with work. From coffee tables with plastic legs to vibrant paintings and curtains made from un-usual material, everywhere you looked in Marta's house your mind was blown.IMG_3785 My favourite piece has to be the cabinet below because it's so subtle and cheeky. Also to the left of the cabinet is a Lion with a plant on his head, well because why not? IMG_3773   IMG_3779 On our last day we visited Wynwood, Miami, throughout America various people had spoken about this neighbour-hood  explaining we would love it and they were right. Wynwood is home to the largest open-air, street-art installations in the world. IMG_3849 Not only was every wall a canvas but the streets were lined with art galleries and quirky bars / restaurants. Link: http://wynwoodmiami.com/about.php  IMG_3836 And there you have it, over fifteen days I visited two states, drove over 800miles,  lost count on how many wild lizards I saw and managed to keep all my limbs despite being up close and personal with a 6ft alligator, mission complete.

 

 

 

August & September 2015; Time Flies when you're having Fun

'Time flies when you’re having fun' and for me the past two months certainly has. Firstly, Matthew and I came across a brilliant new idea for the centre piece of any dinner table, fruit and vegetable candles. We loved the idea so much that we both decide to buy the kit for our mums to enjoy. Screenshot (18). Screenshot (21) As you can see, my Mum agreed with us. Below you can see my Mum lighting a paper candle ! Screenshot (16) Also in August I received my Level 3 Certificate in First Aid. I don't know why this isn't made compulsory for everyone to learn. In just the last few weeks I have already put my training to the test and helped many casualties. I am proud to say I am a first aider. Screenshot (15) One of the biggest changes for me over the last two months was my (rent paying) day job as we changed offices from Farringdon to Aldgate Tower. With over 1,000 employees you can imagine how full on it has been. However, I think it was worth it as the views of London are crazy! Screenshot (23) Strangely on my way to the new office I walked straight into a piece of work I created at my last job, Cheeky Tiki, which I left back in February. (Cheeky Tiki is a Design & Build company, which creates drinking vessels for bars / night clubs.) This vessel was in the shape of an oyster shell and about 2ft wide. Screenshot (14) I made the shell via a two part-mould with resin and silicon to capture the shape. It was no easy task due to its size and shape let alone the fact the mould weighed a tonne. I had solely worked on this from scratch, which you can see from the images below, so it was amazing to see one in use. Screenshot (25)  Screenshot (30). Screenshot (29)

Screenshot (26). Screenshot (31). Screenshot (28) Another fun surprise this month was an 'Instagram' post from Fran, showing off the fermenting pot I made in France. Fran had found time in her busy schedule to glaze my pot for me and now it’s complete. Hopefully it is working to its full potential but even if it isn't I think it still looks beautiful. Screenshot (13) As mentioned in my last post, I was commissioned to create some new interesting pieces one of which was an umbilical cord memento. This was the first time I had crafted something from an umbilical cord and as promised here is the final piece. Being immensely happy with the result, I am looking forward to my next commission. BRING ON THE UMBILLICAL CORDS! Haha FYI: The following luscious photos were taken by Matthew Simcox Link: www.Facebook.come/matthewsimcoxphotography _DSC7137 _DSC7073 (Above: Umbilical Cord Memento) I was also commissioned to create placenta beads with a sterling silver insert and a placenta key ring. These aren't items I would normally design but I can't deny I enjoyed the task of developing ideas and creating new moulds from scratch. In the end I could not be happier with the final pieces, sometimes simple is the way forward. _DSC7164 _DSC7159 (Above: Placenta Memento Beads with sterling silver insert) _DSC7127  _DSC7129 (Above: Placenta Key Ring Memento)

STUDIO UPDATE: From the pic below you can see two little built in rooms complete: one for storage and one to use as a kitchen which will include a fridge freezer for you know what. IMG_2487 Finally, this month I managed to find time to do some body casting of my tiny nephew Freddie -Lee. He was a brave little boy and let his Auntie put his hand and feet into all kinds of materials some he preferred more than others. Screenshot (19) The result is a memento of Freddie-Lee's feet and hands, to remember how small and perfectly formed they once were. Screenshot (9) Screenshot (8) These casts are straight out the mould and need a little tidy up but you get the gist of how amazingly cute they are going to be. I will reveal the finished pieces next month.

Thanks for reading and watch out for next month’s post, I promise there will be crocodiles!

July 2015 - George Clarke's Amazing Spaces and Grayson Perry Pots

July has been a pretty crazy month, I have had meetings and work coming in left, right and centre. It also marked a year that my partner Matthew and I have been together so I decided to mix business and pleasure by going on a little road trip to Kent. Via Air BNB (Link Air BNB - https://www.airbnb.co.uk/) we found this adorable American Style Tiny House which had been featured on George Clarke's Amazing Spaces. The concept of these tiny spaces fascinates me, if you don't watch the programme you should. (Link: George Clarkes Amazing Spaces - http://www.channel4.com/programmes/george-clarkes-amazing-spaces)

George Clarkes Amazing Spaces  Inside George Clake's Amazing Spaces This tiny house in Kent was owned and built by Anthony & Diane Stathamn who were the perfect hosts; friendly, helpful, a lovely couple. It literally had everything we needed including a queen sized bed, fully working kitchen and bathroom squeezed in, yet it still felt so spacious!  As you can see from the pictures, it really was a unique place to stay.

Just down the road from us was the Turner Contemporary Gallery exhibiting 'Provincial Punk' by the one and only Grayson Perry!  (Link: Turner Contemporary - https://www.turnercontemporary.org/) (Link: Grayson Perry - https://www.turnercontemporary.org/exhibitions/grayson-perry) Grayson Perry Photo Stephen White Turner Contempory Margate Turner Contemporary

This English artist, known mainly for his ceramic vases and cross-dressing has always been of interest to me, especially as he was also born in my hometown Essex. Many see ceramics as a traditional and elegant craft but Grayson's classic ceramic forms are full of crude adaptations of sex, politics and violence and I love it!

It felt incredible it is to witness the work of someone you admire. My favourite piece from the exhibition has to be, 'We are What We Buy' 2000, not because it is about  the rise of art collector Charles Saatchi but because each person is documented simply by three things which can immediately brand a person; their choice of clothes, car and home address.

Grayson Perry - We are what we buy Saatchi Gallery Grayson Perry Photo Benedict Johnson Turner Contempory

We also made a special trip to the Shell Grotto in Margate. Words cannot describe how unbelievable this place was. I am not going to say to much as I urge you to experience it yourself. For now here's a few photos taken by Matthew to entice you. Photography by Matthew Simcox (Link: http://www.matthewsimcox.com/)

Shell Grotto Margate. IMG_1979. IMG_1984IMG_1972. IMG_2039. IMG_2009

This month my Grandad ripened to the marvellous age of 80! He is the world's biggest Liquorice Allsorts fan so without doubt I knew I had to create this liquorice explosion. I'll admit, "I'm a creator not a baker" but I was pretty pleased with the outcome and so was he, Happy Birthday Grandad! Amanda Cotton Cake!

On Monday 13th I collected yet another placenta from a new client, Natalie. Natalie's placenta travelled all the way down from Manchester to Euston Station, London where I collected it from her friend. Placenta Pick Up Natalie Not only does Natalie want me to create a Placenta Photo Frame but she has also commissioned me to create a heart from her umbilical cord.  I have never crafted an umbilical cord, therefore, I was a little unsure but for a first attempt, I couldn't be happier with result. Natalie Umbillical Coard Natalie and I, are currently deciding how it shall be presented so keep an eye out for next month's blog to see the final design.

June 2015 - I'm An Auntie!

This month I am proud to announce that I have become an auntie for the first time to this little cutie, Freddie-Lee. I am so pleased for my brother and his girlfriend; they have taken on the role of being parents right from the word go. Freddie-Lee was born on the 2nd of June at 8:04 in the morning, weighing a tiny 6 lbs :) Before you ask yes my brother and his girlfriend did keep Freddie- Lee's placenta. 11412293_10207164103691527_4976245225316264752_n11659481_10207164106851606_378464626196451456_n Also this month I had another reason to celebrate as the news stated: 'Eating your placenta has no benefit to your health!!' CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL BBC NEWS STORY. I won't bore you with all the details but for obvious reasons this is brilliant for me and I love this quote by Dr Daghni Rajasingam, spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, "What women do with their placenta is up to them."

I can't help but think, if there is no health benefits to eating your placenta, why not have a PLACENTA PHOTO FRAME instead? Just like Audrey did... Audrey gave birth over a year ago and kept her placenta safe in the freezer. I am more than pleased with Audrey's frame as her placenta created the most distinctive Placenta Photo Frame yet with an incredible range of brown tones.

audrey

STUDIO UPDATE: This month my very talented Dad, as seen in the picture below, has plastered the outside wall and inside loft compartments. I am still researching kilns but the space is starting to come together and I have no doubt it is going to be the most beautiful studio. IMG_2875  IMG_2876 Last but not least this month I also popped back down to Brighton again. This time I visited not only for the Brighton University Graduate Private View but was invited to give my support and guidance to the MDes students of 2015/16.  Even though it feels a little sad to know it was over 2 years ago since I graduated, I am extremely grateful to be given the opportunity to help out and support those starting the course. I gave my Masters every ounce of my attention and energy and it was full of up and downs but given the chance I would do it all over again. It was worth every second as without it I wouldn't be where I am now. I can't wait to see what this year's students get out of it! 10154923_10207164103731528_6305797326796314527_n 11022552_10207164103611525_640969253592547437_o If you haven't had a chance already this year I suggest you get yourself down to Brighton and soak up the sun!

May 2015 - Art Craft Art Craft

This month I went back to BRIGHTON!!! I spent four years living in Brighton and whenever I return it always feels like home. I decided to take my boyfriend Matthew with me to show him around where I spent my student years!! Here Matt is experiencing the stones that are Brighton Beach! 6

Obviously, I timed our visit perfectly so we could also visit Brighton Open Houses!! With only a limited amount of time I decided to focus on one trail - Fiveways !

First up was 'Upfunt House' on Ditching Road. This house was home to probably one of my favourite finds of Brighton Open Houses. 'Mug Shots' by Ray Dennis - www.raydennisart.com. As you can see these portraits were all drawn on takeaway paper cups; a simple yet extremely effective idea.

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I also supported the Nepal Earthquake by entering a raffle to win this print by Patrick Kennedy, 'Walrus in a bathtub.' Fingers crossed I win as I have the perfect spot on my bath room wall ready and waiting. Visit Patrick's website: www.upfunt.com

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Next up was 'Polly Raynes and Friends' house. This home was absolutely filled with all sorts of surprises from metalwork and jewelry to ceramics and illustrations. My main reason however was to see these stunning cactus planters. Whilst in France last month I was lucky enough to witness the creator, Chris, crafting his planters from scratch, so of course I had to go and check out the final project.

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Also at Polly's house I spotted one of these cute little badgers in the garden created by Helen Hodson. Helen creates many other quirky adaptations of animals all just as adorable as these badgers. Website:  www.helenhodson.com

Helen Hodson - Badgers

Finally, last but certainly not least was Frances Doherty's house. Those of you that follow me know I spent some time last month at Fran's home in France helping to create work for her exhibitions and commissions this year. It was amazing to see this work all glazed and finished out of a studio setting.

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You might also remember us creating some 3D sketches; a useful exercise to get the creative juices flowing. These were also on display and created a buzz with visitors.

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Whilst at Fran's house she advised we take a sneak peak at another house just down the road. Being told it was a performance piece, I looked forward to going back to my roots of conceptual art. Unfortunately, we had missed all performances for the day but luckily whilst still bound up in a strait jacket, Brain Mander gave us a private performance.

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Being a huge fan of multiples I loved this concrete 'ghost heads' as I would describe them. To me it seemed like each individual one was alerted by presence and crept up all over the place as if they were watching me... Spooky! It was very clear a lot of thought and effort had gone into his work. Visit Brian's website: www.brianmander.co.uk.  

Later on this month I also had a quick peak at a pop up 'DIY Market' down in Stoke Newington, Hackney Flea Market, London with my lovely friend Emma.

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Here I found some super interesting figures. Figurative clay forms inspired by the human form always seem to catch my eye. After visiting amyworrall.co.uk/, I found and fell in love with Amy Worrall's fun and playful work. Who wouldn't enjoy these?
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STUDIO UPDATE: As well as visiting lots of art and exhibitions this month I have also been researching ideas for my studio layout including storage, kilns and other machinery, basically everything involved in creating the perfect studio space. This is proving to be a time consuming yet an exciting task.

ARTICLE OF THE MONTH: " According To Science, You've Probably Been Pooping Wrong Your Whole Life" May 27, 2015 | by Caroline Reid http://www.iflscience.com/plants-and-animals/western-pooping-bad-your-booty

 

PLACENTA PHOTO FRAME UPDATE: This month I have spent time catching up with myself, working through each order one by one. As well as organising the collection of placentas from future mothers. I'll have more news and hopefully some images for you next month. UoB_PlacentaFrames_20_JH

Thanks for reading!

April 2015 - Ceramic Heaven / Come Dine With Me

Continued....(See 'March 2015 - Goodbye Cheeky Tiki, Hello Self-employment' for a re-cap)

Whilst in France, Fran taught me day by day how to make my vessels bigger and bigger. I made mistakes along the way but each time I started again I improved. Below are images to show my stages of a large curved pot.

bowl thrown 1 82 3

45throing 2 1 Fran asked me to try and create a cylinder for home grown leeks and an additional fermenting pot for her kitchen, which is the pot you can see in the images above. The fermenting pot also taught me how to create thrown handles and weights which again I had never done before and actually turned out to be the hardest bit for me to get my head around. ceramics in france

Also we had a busy day making sketches ready for Fran's Open House in Brighton this year. I love this idea of sketching with clay as we created these crazy beautiful 3D objects and it was relaxing yet productive, my favourite type of day. 6

Fran's work is based around exaggerated seed pods and plants/flowers. Visit her website at www.francesdoherty.com I had such a lovely time in France it was exactly what I needed!

Upon my return I was taken out for dinner to celebrate me winning our Come Dine With Me Challenge. This was between 5 friends and myself taking it in turns to cook and supply entertainment which we then scored each other for. From Chinese to Bulgarian most of us had a theme, mine was the 'The Art of Cooking'. For starters I created a scene entirely out of food. As you can see in the picture there was a bread house, broccoli tree with potato tree house included, grass made from kale and a pathway made of mixed beans. Screenshot (23)

The pathway ran down the garden past a rockery of new potatoes and a salad dressing lake where wild mushrooms grew randomly. At the bottom was an allotment filled with mini root vegetables such as courgettes, turnips, radishes and carrots.  These grew through black dyed couscous to represent soil and noodles acting as worms.  Dotted around the garden was also garlic snails complete with shell for my diners to nibble on.

Alongside all of this were large flower pots complete with basil leaf and again couscous soil. These were filled with yummy homemade pate and humus to be eaten with the garden.

Screenshot (20)Screenshot (19) As a gift for each of my diners I preserved slices of toast and using chocolate I printed on their faces. Placed inside a clip frame these doubled up as personalised dinner mats.

Screenshot (21)Screenshot (30)

My diners and fellow contestants were shocked and delighted by my evening and as a result I scored top marks hence why I was taken out for dinner. We went to a lovely traditional Greek restaurant which had music playing by this adorable man. It certainly was a great night to remember. greek place

PLACENTA UPDATE: This month I had my first placenta drop off from a mother who gave birth over 4 years ago. She had decided to keep her placenta frozen until she found an idea that suited, which in her opinion happened to be my Placenta Photo Frame.   To ensure a mix up never occurs I don't like to have more than one frame on the go at any one time so this mother's placenta for now is safe and secure in my refrigerated unit whilst I complete my last order.placenta 3

ARTICLE OF MONTH: Each month I plan on delivering to my readers one article which is of special interest to me. This first one was bought to my attention by a good friend of mine Christina Kingston. click the link below.... "During Milan design week 2015, the design academy eindhoven presents ‘eat shit': a part public laboratory, part exhibition show at ventura lambrate, made up of work from the school’s entire department. 18 students and their teachers present their research and results, proving that innovation and artistry can contribute to a new approach to food." http://www.designboom.com/design/olivier-van-herpt-3d-printed-ceramics-design-academy-eindhoven-eat-shit-milan-design-week-04-28-2015/

STUDIO UPDATE! Finally this month my studio has gone full steam ahead and the roof is complete with skylight. My dad is tackling this task for me and happens to be an exceptional carpenter, I am very lucky. I have now been set the task of planning and organising the layout. 6.3 meters of pure space! I will let you know my ideas next month.

roof 3 roof 4

March 2015 - Goodbye Cheeky Tiki, Hello Self-employment

In March I made the decision to leave my full time job at Cheeky Tiki in order to further my own practise.Cheeky Tiki / Bespoke Barware is a design and build interior / exterior company based in Hackney Wick, London. www.cheekytiki.com / www.bespokebarware.com.

I worked in the ceramic department where I helped create slip cast vessels for bars all over the world. You may have seen them pop up in my Instagram from time to time. Follow me on instagram @amandaecotton Before I left we underwent a major cleaning operation as you can see in the picture below. Not a speck of dust! During my time I met many lovely people who I am sure I will forever stay in contact with especially the pink enthusiast below. emma ct ct peeps

Being self-employed, my next step was to organise my work; on day 4 whilst booking my train to what I believe to be 'ceramic heaven' I just so happened to stumble across a random TV documentary on URINE  (coincidence, I think not!). Also I booked in two more lovely mums who wanted me to create Placenta Photo Frames for them. This meant at the beginning of the month my cool box and I  jumped on the bus and at the end of the month we also went across London via the tube.

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I also caught up with friends and family experimenting one of my favourite past times, cooking.                                     diner party dinner party

STUDIO UPDATE: Also in March I have exciting news to share as the Amanda Cotton Ceramics & Composites Studio began taking shape, firstly rebuilding the roof. This is going to be a huge on-going project so I will keep you updated. I can't wait to see how fast it develops and becomes my little hub. But for now, as I said before I booked my train to ceramic heaven! or more commonly known as Frances Doherty's home in France. So on the last day of March I took the ferry over to Dieppe where I was to stay with Fran for two weeks.

fran home My aim was learn how to throw (Throw = Ceramic technique) large scale ceramics. Being a petite person this was something Fran taught me to do in stages.

cylinder thrown 1bowl thrown 1 Here are two pieces I threw to get my started. Since I hadn't thrown in over 2 years I expected to be a little rusty but apparently throwing is like riding a bike.

To be continued...