File Note 112: The Grantchester Pottery - Camden Art Centre

The Grantchester Pottery

The Grantchester Pottery (TGP) is the title of a collaborative project by artists Giles Round and Phil Root, which experiments with different ways of working with other artists and makers. TGP is often described as a contemporary design or craft company, akin to Roger Fry’s Omega Workshop – for which Fry commissioned the Bloomsbury Group artists, writers and philosophers to create graphics, ceramics and other design outputs. This was to level the hierarchy between fine and decorative arts, and eliminate the desire for individual artistic authorship – as works were shown anonymously only under the imprint of the group. TGP operates and produces work in a similar way; however, TGP can be also considered a meta-structure – an overarching system that can encompass anything within its conceptual walls – and so functions as a conceptual art work in its own right.

As part of TGP’s Ceramics Fellowship, Giles Round, Phil Root and writer Kathy Noble took ikebana classes with specialist Keiko Huby. Keiko explained that ikebana – the Japanese practice of flower arranging, derived from Shinto and Buddhist traditions – is as much about the space in between the elements, as it is about the flowers and branches. When practicing ikebana, one must not think about filling the space, but instead, allow the breeze to blow through. 

The following script was written as a response to this experience, and will feature in a film made by TGP as a culmination of their residency.  It collages words and phrases from sets of personal letters and emails between Kathy Acker and McKenzie Wark, Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville West, and Kathy Noble’s own personal exchanges.  

The Space Between Images Quote Biography Credits

The Space Between

My dear

My dearest

You asked me to write a story for you

But of course the real challenge was not the story but the letter

I composed a beautiful letter to you

You said I wrote letters of impersonal frigidity

I just get awkward when I should be direct 

I extract by degrees a great deal from your letters 

I’m a style sponge

They might be longer

They might be more loving

Style is a very simple matter, it is all rhythm

There are no words

Once you get that, you can’t use the wrong words

I just want to say that there are no words

I can’t dislodge them, for lack of the right rhythm

Now this is very profound, what rhythm is

I should write you a really intimate letter 

And goes far deeper than words

Then you would dislike me even more 

I’m not good at saying things emotionally 

Down with all metaphors

I have walked on air all day since getting your letter

I just wanted to write to you

Write to me about whatever you like

I personally find it helpful 

Not to fight, not to cause any upset or anything of the sort

And write pretty much daily 

I can’t imagine writing at all

I enjoyed your intimate letter

I enjoyed your abuse very much

I certainly won’t forget that
I enjoyed being with you

It gave me a great deal of pain

I’ve no doubt the first stage of intimacy

I vomited my emotions onto you

You have a rare delicacy and grace

I never said you were cruel

I am filled with envy and despair

You are, a very, very remarkable person

You changed my life

I’m damned as a pretentious fool

Be careful of yourself

That’s the card I play

You have broken down my defenses

I am reduced to a thing that wants you

I was afraid of getting snubbed

I remember there were other things I wanted to say

I opened one of your books at random

She said something interesting about you and me

I’m pleased you’re better at it than me

All this reality slipping and sliding

Will I remember all that you just wrote? 

Come and see me

But come and see me

Yes, my dear creature, as early as possible

I try to invent you for myself

I just miss you, in a quite simple desperate human way

You like people better through the brain than through the heart

I miss you even more than I ever could have believed 

I have no left brain, it has melted

I have been dull

I love it

I have missed you

I am sticky from head to foot 

I do miss you

My heart goes out to you

I shall miss you 

Yes, dearest, I do miss you

I know what you mean about slipping roles

We worked so well together

There were no boundaries

It was unbearable

So this letter is really just a squeal of pain  

Everything else has been stripped away

I expect you think this is a dumb letter 

I am very sensitive

It was too much

Please solve this riddle for me

This is painful to realise

My anarchist self took notes and laughed

I was also abandoned

I didn’t repeatedly lie to you

The way a man would

No one is as dictatorial as a masochist

I am society as much as you

I never know which one I am 

I thought I should be able to stand back and look 

I don’t mind if you do laugh at me

I can’t see it all

I think you were in a dream I had

I realize that this is brutal

We were children screaming at each other

I am beyond sorry for any hurt I caused

The penny finally dropped for me

I want to apologise for this 

It’s changed my whole life

I doubt you will ever want to talk

A sight, an emotion, creates this wave in the mind

Again, I am sorry

Long before it makes words to fit it

I am learning the hard consequences of this

It was totally disgusting that vision

My actions have been deplorable

You can’t just act with impunity 

I am also glad I realised this 

One remains a sponge, just drinking things up

I live permanently in that state

Beware, it becomes a mania

You built up brick walls to keep them out  

I guess that’s one place I am male

I tapped into something in your unconscious

It is crammed right up against my nose

It was so much fun

I am forever grateful

That brought it to the surface

I’m not that person anymore

The two of us got into a cycle of intensity

I saw this glimpse why I had gotten away

I can’t bear seeing what I’ve become

I just can’t bear seeing the world I live in

But this is a bit different

A bit special

It isn’t quite real either

I have realised so many things you lied about 

Memory slips even more

It is an odd sensation

I know what you mean about slipping 

The people fighting were not fighting

Always, always, always I try

I know I’ve been used

I want to be the first to recognise that

I knew I was being used

I love you too much for that

You are a pathological liar

My desire to become something else

You made us what we are

It was enchanting

All I remember are your eyes

But of such things life is made

You did not tire me

I never know which one I am 

The prince was the devil in disguise 

I now believe it was all completely false

What I feel about you is my business 

There was no truth in it for you

What you feel about me is your business

Just a mirage to feed your ego

Pay attention to your own business

I miss you

It is a great comfort to think of you 

I think of you

Take care of yourself 

Dearest creature


'The fact is that empires can also be reckoned on the colour of ceramics. Empires have also the colour of ceramics and if professors then recount battles and draw up lists of dynasties, because they don’t know the names of the emperors, go and read them on ceramics, you’ll find everything there. The whole truth is there. They open the room where people live and eat and watch their wives and argue, where they caress each other, where people feel tired and get up in the morning feeling fine and eager to breathe. Look at ceramics and everything is there, as in poems and songs.' Ettore Sottsass


The Grantchester Pottery (Established 2011, Cambridgeshire) live and work in Bristol and London, UK and Woodstock, NY. Founded by artists Giles Round & Phil Root, with ongoing contributions from Michael Fullerton, Olivia Hegarty, Sophie von Hellermann, Maria Loboda, Anne Low, Dietmar Lutz, Edwin Pickstone, Cally Spooner and Sam Windett. The group produce artwork alongside functional and decorative objects. All work remains unattributed marked only by The Grantchester Pottery emblem. Recent solo exhibitions: The Grantchester Photographic Society, live work at Camden Arts Centre, London (2016); The Grantchester Pottery Paints the Stage, Jerwood Space, London (2015); ARTIST DECORATORS, ICA, London (2013); Studio Wares, David Dale, Glasgow (2013). Recent group exhibitions: CONDO, Emalin, London (2017); Lucy RavenEdge of Tomorrow, Serpentine Galleries, London (2016-17); Folly: A Group Show, Emalin, Dunmore, Scotland (2016); The Influence of Furniture on Love, Wysing Grange, Cambridgeshire (2014); Pleasure, Devotion, Balance, curated by Mexico, Eastside Projects, Birmingham (2014).


Kathy Noble is a writer and curator.

Supported by The Headley Trust and Friends of Karen Smith.