Simon Taylor, filet-O-Fish. Artwork at Manchester Open Exhibition at HOME 2024

Top 5 from Manchester Open Art Exhibition at HOME

Our top picks from 2024’s Manchester Open Art Exhibition at HOME. There are 490 works in this exhibition, picking the top ones isn’t easy. In fact, it’s much more of a ‘5 pieces I like in the exhibition’, than a ‘top 5’. If we had lots of awards and lavish pots of money to give our top 5, we’d be giving it to them. But unfortunately they’ll have to do with my wispy digital praise and a theoretical pat on the back. I’d put all of these on my own walls if they were mountable.

Jane McKeating, Three Chairs in the Studio.

This one struck me quite early on in the exhibition, possibly because it was near the beginning, at number 11. But more so because of it’s kind of depressing, possibly macabre atmosphere of empty chairs in a desolate room, with a littered floor of paper, crumbs and mugs. Add stripes to the chairs and you’ve got me. I love the styling and the questions it induces for me keep me intrigued. As it’s sold I won’t be able to buy it, but I did envisage it on my wall.

Freya Wysocki, Lurch.

Freya Wysocki, Lurch. Artwork at Manchester Open Exhibition at HOME 2024

There’s nothing more fun than a furry painting made of carpet that’s smiling at you upside down. Even it’s belly button smiles. Playing with perspective, this big hairy legged, bendy, orangey-brown bikinied person jumps into a swimming pool, which for some reason has large lipped fish in it. There are drips that aren’t part of it, and it’s carpet texture makes it naff, which just enhances it’s charm. This one makes me smile and reminds me to have fun and not take things too seriously.

Ann Lines ‘Time for Tea’.

Ann Lines 'Time for Tea'. Artwork at Manchester Open Exhibition at HOME 2024

As a potter, craft is important to me in any artwork. A teapot is an object that requires one of the highest levels of craftsmanship in ceramics. This meticulously crafted teapot, not made out of ceramic, but paper, is intricately layered and delicately dainty. Clearly some great skill has gone into making this, but very different from the skills needed to make a teapot from clay. It’s time for tea and if you put tea in this teapot, it would likely turn into mulch after a short period of time. Which wouldn’t make good tea at all. Maybe not it’s intention, but it’s uselessness points me back to the ceramic teapot, which functional by nature, ends up on a shelf unused since the invention of the bleached teabag. I haven’t appreciated paper so much before.

Ella Booth-Pryce, Fridge.

For some reason, I didn’t notice one of the biggest pieces in the exhibition the first time I went round. Maybe because my piece was in front of it, or maybe I thought that’s where the curator’s put their lunch. You can buy this handmade paper fridge for the price of a real fridge, except with it’s contents included for free. There’s something about the handmade nature of this piece that appeals to me as a potter, with the time, care and attention to detail in the making process. With it’s wobbly edges and wonky writing, it is scaled naivety and imperfection, and makes me want a paper version of all my things at home too.

Simon Taylor, filet-O-Fish. Artwork at Manchester Open Exhibition at HOME 2024

Simon Taylor, Filet-O-Fish.

This last one beamed out to me, you can tell its a painting, yet it seems so real, that the bun a crumb texture make me salivate. You know it’s a good painting when it appeals to your desires and evokes deep emotions. In all it’s deliciousness it makes me hungry and there’s just something funny about that.

So that’s my top 5 from the Manchester Open Art Exhibition. If you haven’t seen the exhibition, or, like me, you missed many pieces the first time you went, then it’s on until the end of April. There more details about Manchester Open here.

Striped layered clay nerikomi bowl handmade by ceramicist Sam Andrew
Sculptural ceramic art piece with orange triangle pattern made by artist and potter Sam Andrew at 7 limes Pottery Manchester

Trace Exhibition Omved Gardens, in pictures

Trace, an exhibition by Thrown Contemporary and collaborators, was set in the beautiful glass houses at Omved Gardens in Highgate London, during Chelsea Fringe Festival. The sun beaming down lit the space brightly, with vegetative flowering, by sustainable floral design studio Meta Fleur, adorning it’s plinths, hanging from struts, and intertwining between art pieces throughout. Alongside a host of events, including supper evenings, pot making, and fermentation workshops among others, 12 distinctive art collections came together. From natural ink painting’s to exceptionally blown glass, Thrown’s main discipline is presenting ceramic works and exhibiting pottery from upcoming and established ceramicists and potters.

Barcelona based Roger Coll’s curvaceous tubular ceramic sculptures appeared throughout with different brightly coloured matt and gloss surfaces, and use various hand-builidng, mould making and slip casting techniques. John Mackenzie’s traditional wood fired wheel thrown pots, with ash glazes, are fired in his own built anagama style wood firing kiln. His pieces followed him to Stoke on Trent’s Clay College Stoke, for a teaching workshop, a college originally set up by Kevin Millward and Lisa Hammond. Our own Sam Andrew’s sculptural nerikomi pots featured prominently and was the first time he presented work on this scale. All his pieces were made in studio in 7 Limes Pottery’s kilns. Made from years old waste material of nerikomi batches, where clay slabs are meticulously layered, compressed, sliced and pressed, the waste of which is joined together and manipulated to form large belied and highly patterned forms. Sam’s work combines hybrid pottery making methods of press-moulding, slabbing, coiling and throwing to achieve the sculptural pots and surfaces.

See Trace’s exhibition catalogue below for a more in-depth read about the exhibition and it’s artists.

Featured image credit Will Hearle.

The Great Pottery Throw Down – first impressions!

We’re four episodes in and it’s still doing a fab job of bringing pottery alive.

Wendy & Sam are super busy at the moment so I’ve taken over the blog for this mini review – I’m Mark – I’m one of the regulars at pottery classes and I helped with the new look and site for Seven Limes.

So far so good, I was a little hesitant about how well pottery would translate the Bake Off formula (I’m a huge fan of that too despite defnitely doing more pottery than baking!) – and turns out I needn’t have been! So far it has shown a great spectrum of pottery. From throwing on the wheel (most people’s impression of pottery no doubt) with some entirely expected filth from throwing handles – to hand building and slab pots the diversity of techniques has been impressive.

The potters on the show are also a wonderful mix of people, who all have their own strengths and weaknesses and skills they do and don’t have. Personally I had a moment of delight in the second episode where they coiled a sink! (I mostly coil my pots so the realisation they weren’t going to solely focus on wheel thrown pots was exciting to me and they’ve continued to branch out since then.) There’s been a wonderful range of executions – when given the same brief the end result always promises to offer some wildly different outcomes. And there is trepidation too, as we all know, the fear of what you put in the kiln might not come out intact especially with the added time pressure.


The judges have turned out to be well chosen, Kate Malone – someone who’s work I personally love, a hand building artist known for massive pots with impressive shape and form, and Keith Brymer Jones who is the opposite end of the spectrum with a love for simple and minimal thrown designs. He also has a tendency to weep with delight over some of the potters creations, which is quite the change from Bake Off’s Paul Hollywood. Sarah Cox as presenter has also put in a winning turn, keeping the innuendos and puns flowing when needed.


One of the other things I liked seeing was also how much it reminded me of being at class, the banter and chat between the potters is exactly as I’m used to at Seven Limes (spoilers I’ve been going for years!) That said, I’ve got some non potters watching it and they seem to love it too!


You can catch it all still on BBC iPlayer here.