Friday, 26 September 2014

Yo Dude.

It happens every year about this time.

Hi,
I am a mature student, ( well that's a good start, might be able to spell and string a sentence together without text speak).

Hey dude like, r u cool 4 a few words like? LOL

It goes on... As part of my studies as an aspiring ceramics practitioner I am contacting other practitioners to gain insights they may feel they would like to share to help in my own work and new career.
Ceramic practitioner?  Sounds like someone who makes false teeth!
There usually follows a whole bunch of questions.
What led you to working with clay?
What is it that drives you forward?
There are other questions that revolve around why, how and what for, but you can bet the headline question will be 'What is your inspiration'?

Answering these requests is never easy, there are no one line answers, but it does make one reflect for a few moments about the meaning of potting life. So I've made a template for next year:-

Dear (enter name),

There are no easy answers to your many questions, I had no training to be a potter, but that's what I am. I make vessels, it is important that what I make can have a use even if it is not always obvious to any one else. I make pots, I am uncomfortable being called a ceramicist.
I went to Art College and it was all about drawing, so I found myself studying graphic design and was encouraged to be an illustrator. No one pointed out to me that it was difficult to get work without a portfolio of work and without work you can not build up a portfolio. I took a job in a swanky Mayfair  advertising agency and hated it. So I went to evening classes out of a desire to make things with my hands, clay satisfies that desire although I like working with wood also. I now combine those materials.

Evening class taught me the very basics, I never learnt to throw very well. Centrifugal force gets in the way and I love the simplicity of using just my hands, a ball of clay and a few tools, without all that water and slurry everywhere. The rest I have learnt by observation and making a lot of mistakes. Drawing is about observation, it encourages you to ask questions, so my early arts education has served me well.

Inspiration?   I went to an exhibition of work by Lucie Rie and Hans Coper back in the 70's. I was blown away by their quality of making, the understanding of form and the sheer simplicity of what I saw. Pick up a Coper, it's a masterclass in construction, form and simplicity. Just texture, black, white and form. I don't understand this preoccupation from graduates to state their inspiration...
" I am inspired by the rugged coast/sea/natural world" when what is placed in front of you is a 10cm cylinder with an oxide splash and you find out the maker lives in a comfortable, urban area of a big city.
Inspiration comes from within, what I do is driven by circumstance, what is available to me, limited space and a strong desire to do it better next time. I explore those 'what if ' moments, rarely consider the commercial or will it sell well. Most of what I have made has ended up somewhere and most are cherished.

Being self taught makes one self reliant, there are no grants, bursaries, one year one shows, University stalls at markets, so grab what you can, but enjoy at all costs.

Inspiration was in short supply in Halkin street in 1950