Very pleased to see that the new Anthropologie store – it’s an American chain, it’s ok not to say shop, I think – on Regent Street is almost complete. I can’t wait for it to open, especially since one of my favourite ceramicists, Mick Haigh, has been working like mad since March to complete an order for it.
Mick lives with his wife, Sally, and young son in a hamlet surrounded by exquisite hills tattooed with forest and farmland in the depths of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands, South Africa. He works from a tiny wattle-and-daub studio that he built at the bottom of the garden with his son and, if you look carefully, you can see their handprints on the mud walls of the building.
It’s about as close to stardom as anyone in the valley wants to get: property rarely comes up for sale and, if you didn’t know where you were going, you could miss the turn-off to the cluster of houses and paddocks and carry on driving for forty or fifty kilometres, before reaching a dead-end at the foot of the Drakensberg mountains without seeing anyone except, perhaps, a Zulu herdsman on horseback.
Yet over the past few years Mick’s ceramics have beaten a path from that tiny studio to the local post office and to the world beyond: Cape Town, Johannesburg, New York, Paris, Eindhoven, Stavanger, and now Regent Street.
In the small cafe Sally runs in the nearest village there is, propped up against some of some of Mick’s pieces, a note from Terence Conran inviting him to dinner, although Mick, I expect, would be happiest left to make pots in the valley.
“I work with mud: pale mud, dark mud, any kind of mud. I’ve never planned anything – it’s just kind of happened for me,” he told me in an interview I wrote for House and Garden magazine earlier this year. I think it’s an example of globalisation at its best.