Town mouse on art in the autumn

It’s impossible to be gloomy on a bright autumn day in a tent, and both sunshine and marquee were in Berkeley Square when I visited the Pavilion of Art and Design last week. It was a buoyant show not only because there seemed to be plenty of buyers, although not always British (‘so you still use pounds over here?’ asked one American).

There was a wit and joie de vivre to the exhibits, from Jean-Marie Fiori’s giant, painted alabaster cockerel’s head to Joseph Walsh’s rippling furniture, which makes wood seem as fluid as water. I met the ceramicist Kate Malone. I’d been puzzling over the waving green fronds of a very large pottery box.

The lid section turned out to be easy to lift, but I wouldn’t risk it myself. Kate mostly makes big pieces, jugs and vases that may be encrusted with fruits, seeds or corals, rounded vegetable forms that cry out to be touched, glazed in intense, eye-ravishing colours.

On some pieces, cooled slowly after firing, crystals have formed in the glaze. Kate spends part of the time in Barcelona, potting; the made pieces are then sent to her ‘ceramic laboratory’ in London, where the precisely accurate kilns are unaffected by power cuts. ‘I’m an optimist,’ she laughs, when I say that her work cheers me up. Recession? The end must be in sight.

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