|‘The Worst Journey in the World’ James Maskrey|
My first experience of Northlands was in 2008 when I got the opportunity of being a teaching assistant for american hot glass sculptor Richard Jolley. It was one of those complete shot in the dark applications that surprisingly, and dauntingly paid off! Luckily I wasn’t the only TA, seasoned Northlands gaffer James Maskrey was also there. This put me in the comfortable position of being Richards second assistant and also to work directly with the beginners to glassblowing. It couldn’t have been a better experience to build up my confidence in the studio and also in teaching.
For me this was the first time since I was a college student, seven years ago, to really indulge in the creative process. Since then I have hired studios to make my work and therefore experimentation has been very limited. The nine days at Northlands was a chance to play with the material, to be less precious and not worry if the piece ended up in the bin. It was a chance to generate new ideas and approaches, to be challenged and thereby consolidate what I do and why I do it. It was essentially a more intense and condensed art college experience, and I loved it!
|Catherine’s class experiments|
As our masterclass leader, James set the tone for the group dynamic. There were six in our class, of a variety of ages, skills and backgrounds. I’m not sure whether it was due to being so closely involved with previous masterclasses at Northlands, or because he was in a rugby team in his youth, but James made great efforts for our group to bond. One particularly clever ploy was a game he devised, we each had to choose our favourite music track, tell this only to Emma Baker our TA, who made a list of tracks at random and then we had to guess who’s track was whose. We each threw some money in the pot and the winner got the lot…although they had to take everyone else to the pub and buy the drinks! I think this investment in the social side of the class was very insightful on James’ part. It made for a very pleasant working environment, we all enjoyed and benefited from hearing each other’s ideas and half of the experience of going away to do a class should be the time spent with new people.
|The class group|
The studio experience was brilliant, with unlimited access to materials and more than enough bench time to make work. Just being at Northlands however, meeting interesting people in a ruggedly beautiful landscape, was equally enjoyable…and I even saw the northern lights!