Obviously it’s been Christmas – hope you all had a lovely break and are starting the new year feeling recharged and inspired.
I’ve taken some much-enjoyed time out from the studio to relax, see my family etc. I have also done my tax return (which was less enjoyable but not too painful).
More interestingly, I listened to Edmund de Waal’s appearance on Desert Island Discs and have started reading Cardew’s “Pioneer Pottery”. De Waal has some discouraging comments to make about the first 30,000 pots being the hardest. He also commented on having no success at all until he stopped making pots in the manner of his ‘masters’ and started making what he really wanted to make. I am choosing to think that he had a serious head start in terms of early skills development but that I am making up a bit by starting with a much clearer vision of what I’m doing… He also remarked on the significance to touch and how it is downplayed in our society – which did strike a chord. I have realised recently that the tactile is seriously important to me, both in the way I engage with the world, and in how I enjoy (or not) the things around me. Clearly handmade ceramics gain value from their tactile qualities.
Cardew also comments on the value of the handmade in the final chapter. He contrasts them to the mechanical and the fine arts and sciences, and notes that commercial ceramics is driven by profit and science (which is driven by the desire for knowledge) both of which produce power, whereas fine art and contemporary craft produce pleasure and are done by the artist for the love of the medium, the process, and the urge to create and express. He argues against the need of potters to move away from humble tableware in series to make ‘art’ and justifies this in the quality and pleasure that such works share with their users. I think I need to re-read the closing parts as I got distracted, but I’m finding it both interesting and useful to see how others manage to verbalise the value of the tactile in general and of pots in particular.