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News Report Page 13 of 18
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Alice Odger's Ceramics Exhibition:- "Keeping it in the Family"


RUNNING until 25 June 2022, that the ArtHouse, Eastbank Street, Southport, will be Alice Odger's Ceramics Exhibition, entitled:- "Keeping it in the Family."

Taking inspiration from her father, ceramicist John Odgers, Alice knew from an early age that it would only be a matter of time before she also succumbed to getting her own hands wet at the potter's wheel. "Although I had worked with clay before at School and College it wasn't until University that I began to really enjoy clay work and the different processes."

Her early interest in Art and Design naturally directed her to follow her instincts and apply to study design at Liverpool Hope University. "When applying for University I was unsure of what I wanted to specialise in so I chose a course which allowed me to combine a mixture of subjects: metal, woodwork, textiles and ceramics."

During her degree, work experience at Southport College, as a ceramics technician, confirmed her career path and she has not looked back since. Alice, who is from Birkdale, is an intuitive potter who allows the clay to do its own thing:- "I like to adapt my ceramics as I'm working on a piece, removing, building up, changing the shape, that's part of it that makes it exciting."

Gregarious by nature, Alice is always eager to share her skills and expertise with others:- "Working with people is something I really enjoy. I've worked as a creative arts support worker, where I like to explore a variety of creative techniques. Luckily, I have been given opportunities to help at events and workshops. I was then offered a job running pottery classes for beginners at the Atkinson, on behalf of Southport Ceramics Studio and organised workshops at Baltic Clay in Liverpool's North Dock area. I also ran workshops at Bluecoat in Liverpool with the members of the Blue Room's inclusive arts programme for learning disabled artists."

A keen traveller, Alice has worked as a ceramics instructor in summer camps for children in New Jersey in America and Ontario in Canada. During her stay, Alice also worked in a pottery studio in Nova Scotia for 6 months:- "During my time in Nova Scotia I stayed with a wonderful family who offered me a job working in their pottery painting cafe and studio. As well as the cafe they ran pottery classes exploring hand building and wheel throwing in a pottery studio within the same building. I helped out with technician duties and in the pottery-painting cafe. During the School summer holidays whilst I was there, I ran children's pottery workshops, where groups of children could explore a variety of hand building, throwing and pottery painting techniques."

Always trialling new avenues for experimentation in her own work, Alice enthusiastically responds to the unpredictability of working with clay:- "The glazing process really excites me. There is always an element of surprise. I like the contrast of the clay and the glaze. I love to use a mixture of clays and processes, investigating new hand building techniques and add on to slip cast forms. In particular, I enjoy patterns, shapes, textures, organic forms and the subtlety and sensuality of curves."

This exclusive showing is certainly not 1 to be missed. Alice's distinctive ceramics will be on display at the ArtHouse, Tuesday to Friday, from:- 10am to 3pm. There are facemasks and hand sanitiser facilities available at the ArtHouse should visitors wish to use them.

Cost crisis threatening to undermine returning North West small business confidence

FSB Area Leader for Cheshire warns spiralling input costs, a squeeze on lending and mounting late payments could impact on fragile small business confidence

FSB Merseyside and Cheshire's Daren Shaw, Area Leader for Cheshire, has called on political leaders to combat the cost of doing business crisis or risk undermining fragile confidence among North West firms, which has returned to positive levels and, for the 1st time in a year, improved on the previous quarter.

FSB's latest Small Business Index (SBI) for Q1 2022, shows that the confidence level of North West firms now stands at 3%. Over the past 12 months the figure consistently fell - from 39% in Q1 2021 to -4% in Q4 2021.

While this might indicate early signs of optimism seeping into the Region after the roller coaster of uncertainties associated with the Pandemic, it is important to remember year on year confidence is down by -36%. Small businesses continue to focus very much on recovery.

New Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show producer input price inflation at a record-high 18.6%, and the consumer prices index at 9%. Further, according to the SBI, lending to small businesses is at an all-time low and 6 in 10 firms are impacted by late payment.

FSB Merseyside and Cheshire's Daren Shaw, Area Leader for Cheshire, said:- "We hear a lot from politicians about the cost of living crisis, but very little about the cost of doing business crisis which underlies it. Small Businesses are struggling to absorb cost rises and are left with no choice but to pass them on to customers, as inflationary pressure collides with an increasingly tight labour market, which makes it harder and harder to find the right people and pushes up wages. The Government must now look at targeted interventions that will do most for local economies hardest hit by the Pandemic, communities now faced with low growth and surging inflation. It should certainly help small firms with property costs - increasing the ceiling for small business rates relief and extending the energy support issued via the Council tax system to the rates system. With employment costs, including:- national insurance, now way up on what they were this time last year, installing a sick pay rebate for the smallest businesses would give them a measure of breathing space. So many firms have been lost over lockdown. We need policymakers to come forward with the Enterprise Strategy that we were promised a long time back; clearly outlining how, now we've lost the New Enterprise Allowance, Government intends to spur those thinking about starting up to turn vision into reality, shoring up our already foundering recovery. Lenders pulling up the finance drawbridge for small firms will make things much worse. Businesses are born every day across the UK and need funding to get off the ground and grow to become profitable and create opportunities. Further, our debilitating poor payment culture has deteriorated over the Pandemic. Here we have an area where Government can take definite action at no cost at all; making audit committees directly responsible for supply chain practice. FSB's new research clearly shows we are seeing the green shoots of returning small business confidence after such a torrid time. It is of utmost importance that it is protected and nurtured. Our recent local elections have brought new elected representatives, and we will continue to work with and lobby local policymakers and partners on the necessary levers for positive change."

FSB's SBI shows that the majority (61%) of small firms were impacted by late payment of invoices over the 1st quarter of this year. A quarter (26%) say the propensity for late payment is growing - close to 1 in 10 (7%) experienced late payment for the 1st time in Q1 of this year.

Just 9% of small firms applied for finance in Q1 2022, the lowest proportion since SBI records began. The share that saw applications approved (43%) is also at a record low.

The number of respondents describing the availability of credit as:- "good" (19%) has fallen to its lowest point since 2016. A minority (44%) of successful applicants were offered a borrowing rate of up to 4% in Q1; the figure is down 32%age points on the same period last year.

In addition, the latest Bank of England figures show the annual growth rate of lending to SMEs at a record low, despite small firms making net debt repayments of close to £1bn in March alone. Lending to big corporates, by contrast, has increased significantly since the start of the year.

The SBI shows 11% of small firms across the UK plan to close, sell or downsize their business over the coming year, equating to more than half a million businesses.


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