Simon Carroll

FAT CAZ
PART I
A BIG APPETITE
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Wine • Fertility • Ritual Madness • And Theatre
Simon Carroll. Potter. 1964 ~ 2009. STORY & IMAGE → HARDY © 2019
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An innovative potter, Simon Carroll took an unorthodox approach to both his life and work. A breakthrough show at Tate St Ives, the Arts Foundation Prize and work in permanent collection at the V&A, his thirst for ceramics was only matched by his gargantuan appreciation for Dionysus ~ wine, fertility, ritual madness, religious ecstasy and theatre. A brilliant showman, Caz exhibited, lectured and demonstrated his craft from Hong Kong to the US gaining international recognition. Beach drawings, work at the Royal National College for the Blind, his continual development, investigation and experimentation, Simon Carroll’s lust for life is sorely missed. Simon Philip Carroll, potter, born 13 November 1964; died 31 March 2009.

If you lived in Hereford, he was FAT CAZ ~ mad, bad and dangerous to know. He really was very naughty… but a prostigious talent and sheer energy, allowed one to fogive his many, many transgressions which polite society feared he had yet again stepped over. Last time I met Caz we went for a drink. Four days later I crawled beaten and sick to my bed, Caz, exuberant as always, but saddened momentarily by my unexpected departure from this wonderful life, brushed down his very warn coat, pushed me aside and carried on for another three glorious days.

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simon carroll pot
Simon Carroll, Expressionist Potter : Photograph kind permission of Alun Graves (Editor), Philip Hughes (Editor), Dewi Tannatt-Lloyd (Illustrator) © 2015. Published in 2015 for the exhibition Simon Caroll Expressionist Potter organised by the V&A in collaboration with Ruthin Craft Centre. Essays by Alun Graves and Walter Keeler.

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“Show us yer snatch”

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Introducing Caz to the charming daughter of potter James Campbell, that was how he responded, having lifted his weary head from my kitchen table. Aforementioned daughter, with impeccable sangfroid, smiled politely and sipped on her tea; it could have been vodka but Caz had demolished that, hence his pithy remark at the beginning. We shall return to Cara Campbell and her frescos later; thats a story packed full of gangsters in Notting Hill, Florence in the moonlight, stucco at Windsor Castle, the back of the moon and Axel Munthie. Cara is granddaughter to John Campbell, 5th Earl Cawdor, so expect a touch of Gormenghast.

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As I am name dropping. My friend Elisabeth (literally the cleverest girl, in the world) caught the tail end of her college reunion. On arriving she hears…
“And Willem, whats his day job?
“Willem is King of the Netherlands”.
“Willy, I knew he’d do well” the ex student ended morosely.
You are probably wondering where are all the pots? Whats all this rubbish got to do with ceramics?
Well, to be honest, I know nothing about pots. I am now, furiously researching so I can offer you a well rounded report. Because it is only now that I realise, throughout all our many capers, Caz and I never discussed our craft. But then Caz, through Walter Keeler, Janet Leach, Shōji Hamada and Suzuki Goro, had an appreciation for the Japanese. Furuta Oribe, recalling his master Sen no Rikyū* many years later;

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“He didn’t buy me a cup of tea once”

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*Sen no Rikyū (千利休, 1522 ~ 1591) had a profound influence on chanoyu, the Japanese “Way of Tea”, particularly the tradition of wabi-cha: rustic simplicity, directness of approach and honesty of self.

Caz, like his art, had a multifaceted character; dark and light, vulgar and delicate, shock and delight, so funny but sometimes just so dreadfull; the lead guitarist pushing that once beautiful sustain just too far. I usually laughed, until the church architects foolishly tried to wake him whilst happily snoring loudly outside my door. I lived above the architects. I believe on that occasion he told them to fuck off. Amusing now, but at the time I had to take an earfull from my irate landlord ~ same architects from the church. Fair enough, we kept our bad language up-stairs and after 9pm.

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Simon Carroll
Simon Carroll. Fascinated by the abstract expressionists, Jackson Pollock and Peter Voulkos, and by the freely modelled small figures of Picasso. “They made me want to laugh out loud,” Simon Carroll. IMAGE → HARDY © 2019. With an unfashionable attraction to 17th and 18th-century slip-decorated wares produced in Staffordshire and a new awareness of clay from his work at the Royal National College for the Blind, Simon Carroll was developing a winning combination.

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James Joyce & Brendan Behan on a bender.

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Imagine introducing your maiden aunt to James Joyce and Brendan Behan half way through a bender? A fucking catastrophe. Jayne and I had the penthouse above the architects. Stunning Regency town house, the third address in town after the Bishop’s palace (sweeping views of the river) and The fairytale Fosse. Listen Caz. Hugo is the diocesan draftsman. His wife shops at Harrods with the Pope (Caz is Irish Roman Catholic); these people have reputations. This is a really good billet. Beautiful apartment, beautiful woman, tasteful furnishing, clement weather ~ don’t mess it up. Alas my wish was not to be. Fat Caz was an iconoclast; although strangely enough he was a damn site more polite with his own landlord.

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On course with a firm rooting in the craft which encouraged questions about the why as much as the how, Carroll found his metier. Lecturers, including Mo Jupp and Walter Keeler, supported what they quickly recognised as a highly independent and thoughtful maker who felt at home with clay and who wanted to push it in unconventional ways.
Emmanuel Cooper OBE (1938 ~ 2012). The Guardian © 2009

So, through Simon Carroll’s highly independent and thoughtful potting… I am sans penthouse.
Fat Caz is busted to Corporal and sweeping a beach in St Ives, Jayne is moulding metal and silk with a couple of Indian Runners in the pasture… And me? I got Tehran with Uncle Napoleon.

To be continued…

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Simon Carroll
Simon Carroll
Simon Carroll
Simon Carroll
Simon Carroll
Simon Carroll
Simon Carroll
Simon Carroll
Simon Carroll
Simon Carroll, Expressionist Potter : Photographs kind permission of Alun Graves (Editor), Philip Hughes (Editor), Dewi Tannatt-Lloyd (Illustrator) © 2015. Published in 2015 for the exhibition Simon Caroll Expressionist Potter organised by the V&A in collaboration with Ruthin Craft Centre. Essays by Alun Graves and Walter Keeler. ATO STORE

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HARDY © 2019. PART II COMING SHORTLY. GOD WILLING

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