On the way to Aberystwyth some of us had the great opportunity to stop by Meri Wells, who lives and works not far from the lovely town of Machynlleth.
The house is nestled in a valley surrounded by fields with sheep. But before you get to her house you have to go through a ruined house which acts as a sort of walled garden.
Mari was incredibly welcoming and let us roam about her house which is her home, her work place and her gallery. The first thing you noticed when entering the house was the smell of wood fire. The rooms are dark and cosy withe low dark beams and wooden floors and architecturally everything inside is a bit wonky. Wherever you look you find pieces of artwork and pots made by many renowned artists. It reminded me of the dwelling of an artistic witch or witchy artist - take your pick! This house has a real feeling of warmth and comfort.
Meri's upstairs living quarters are linked by a hole in the wall. There is a bedroom on one side and bedroom/study on the other leading on to her gallery space.
The over sense of playful which is found throughout Meri's home finds it manifestation in her gallery space. Here she displays her works of monsters/creatures.
Meri bisque fires her work in a conventional (electric?) kiln but her wood fires her glazed works about twice a year. The kiln is at the far end of her property under a roofed area. Even numbered bricks marking the opening to her kiln combine a sense of practicality and playfulness. All over the place there are little figures and other fun objects tucked into the undergrowth.
And Meri's wonderful studio is a mix of organised chaos full of creatures sitting on ledges, shelves and even the oven. What an inspirational space.
Visiting a place like this makes me realise that there is a difference between people who see pottery as their 'job' and for whom it is a 'life'. There is no doubt which camp Meri occupies. However, this is not the right choice for everybody. Though the seclusion of her home makes for a picturesque place to visit during summer it must be challenging to live and work there during winter. She has no central heating and depends on the water of a natural spring to be pumped down from the hills which can get blocked up or simply run out during times of little rainfall. Respect!
Maybe it was the smell or the secluded location overlooking a valley with trees around but this place reminds me a bit of mother's place in Germany. Maybe there is a way I can set up something similar there - even if it's just temporarily. Hm, there's a thought....