|Jim trying to decipher my handwriting|
I have decided to do an occasional series introducing you to some of the people and processes at Whichford Pottery and it seems logical to start with Jim Keeling - the man with whom the buck stops. He is the founder of and, after 35 years, still the main creative force behind Whichford Pottery. This is not a comprehensive, balanced view, it is Jim as I see him!
I took the photo on the right when we were working on the planting plan for a show garden. He likes to say that he taught me everything I know about gardening - but I don't rise to that one any more, I know that he still needs me to remember the plant names, their colours and where they like to live. Best of all he just lets me get on with the gardening and doesn't interfere. Well, not much anyway.
We argue about colours, pruning, compost making... This is a part of his 'management' style - friendly argument amidst creative chaos. It usually works.
His employees find him both infuriating and entertaining and we treat him with a healthy disrespect which he seems to tolerate, even to encourage.
|The Keelings' garden at Whichford|
Jim enjoys gardening, he is fast and messy and has enormous flair. When I came to work for the pottery he taught me how to plant flowerbeds randomly and encouraged me to plant pots extravagantly, once telling me what I had done was "prissy". That still rankles, to be honest.
Big is Beautiful
Most of all, of course, Jim is a potter. He has written elsewhere about his early inspiration and training so I'll just tell you a little about what he does at the moment.
Over the last few years he has refined his methods of making truly enormous flowerpots, more details of which you can find here: http://www.whichfordbespoke.com/super-large/
I am talking pots you can fit a whole family in (or, if you are being sensible, a large tree).
|Huge Karatsu Pot|
There are other names for it.
|Jim dabbling in slips and glazes in his studio|
|Admiring a collection of tea bowls in a private house in Kyoto|
|Oishii desu ne!|
|Is the resemblance between Jim and Humphry Repton coincidental?|