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The winning Honesty Tables ...

The tables looked great on our big night last week when yes ... we won the Northern Art Prize!

Thanks again to Unto This Last for making the tables especially for us, and to everyone who has been bringing in their produce and craft.

If you live in Leeds it's not too late for you to use the tables, just bring in what you've grown or made and ask the gallery staff to give you a label for your items. Then, once they've sold (money goes in the slots next to each item) come back and collect your cash! If you email us a picture we'll add it too this page.

Michael's Aubergine cane tops

Brighten up your allotment with these beautiful cane tops ... and stop catching your jumper or poking out someone's eye at the same time. Sure to make any veg. patch look great - even in winter.

A snip at £5 a piece

Michael emailed us about how they are made:

"Well, raku is a Japanese art, nicked and adapted by western ceramicists in the 1960's. I bisc fire in an electric kiln and then raku fire in an adapted dustbin fired with butaine gas. For the raku firing I work outside next to our allotment in the elements (high winds and rain in this instance) I also always do these firings at night because I can gauge the firing better in the dark, and the kids are in bed and out of the way.

All the pieces I have sent to Leeds have a copper oxide glaze on them, apart from a couple which have a copper wash - the glaze on these is very thin and matt when finished. I remove the pieces from the kiln when the glaze melts - approximately very hot - and put in a reducing kiln, (an old biscuit tin half filled with saw dust) sprinkle with saw dust and replace the lid. This reduces the oxygen in the kiln (biscuit tin) and can give the copper effect on some of the pieces. It is not an exact science - particularly with me - so results vary."

Norma Olden's notorious pickled onions

If you like your pickles powerful these are for you ...

They have been known to make the eyes of grown men smart
Available from this Thursday onwards - while stocks last

£1.50 per jar

Banana Muffins

I made these to take to Leeds with me this week for the table. By the time I'd finished my evening talk there we only two left!

Dried wild mushrooms ...

Gathered in the Lake District, they smell amazing. Great for vegetarian stocks, dishes etc etc.

Tea Bowls

These wood ash-glazed mingei tea bowls have currently all gone from the table ... we are trying to persuade the anonymous maker to send us some more!

Price? Pay what you think is right ...

Pay what you think you are worth ...

In Japan in the early 20th century a movement developed called Mingei the essence of the movement was an interest in drawing the unique art work from a mass produced craft objects. There were a number of rules
The maker must be anonymous
The object must be in everyday use
The object must be low cost hand produced
The collector/connoisseur selects the special/perfect work

Works selected and classified as Meingei are extremely valuable, there is a beautiful meingei museum in Tokyo (www.meingei-khan.jp) The movement has corrupted and now it is the maker that is important in the valuing of the object. In Japan the most senior makers are designated ‘Living National Treasures’ and all the objects they make are highly priced for example a bowl like these ones would cost in the region of £5,000

The art of selecting ‘the one’ is easy, it’s the perfect bowl - the weight, the feel, the balance, colour, proportions and the vital ingredient - signs of the hand of the maker. These subjective qualities may differ from person to person – a potter will be able to select almost instantly for the rest of us it may take a little longer

A contemporary equivalent of this idea can be found in the car industry where the production line produces the ‘perfect’ car approx every 10,000th one. This freak apparently occurs on all production lines whether mechanised or not.

Hence the value of an object is determined by who values it and how you and others value yourself, so if you are worth nothing then neither is your selection, so steal it.

A classic Japanese story from the Samurai period concerns a tea bowl, a simple humble but ‘perfect’ bowl that so obsessed two Samurai warlords that it was eventually exchanged for a castle.

Bowls once identified lead rarefied lives, used daily, kept in their own boxes and if broken rejoined with molten gold, consequently they increase in value, both monetary and arguably aesthetic.

These bowl are relatively valueless, they take minutes to make and use free materials, clay from the ground and ash from the fire, wood from the waste wood of the forest to fire them. The only arguably valuable ingredient is time

So it’s all a bit like art then, intrinsically valueless unless endorsed. Equally you could apply these ideas to everything you purchase, in Japan fruit is also the subject of this notion of the selection of the ‘perfect’ and valued accordingly, a single apple can cost £10. Realistically we all do this when purchasing food, hence the drive to produce unblemished and perfect examples – the Japanese concept allows for the ‘perfect’ blemish in much the same way that we might consider a beauty spot.