Friday, 22 November 2013

Did I mention that I love pottery?

The joy of working with clay has been keeping my hands and thoughts busy lately. I wait impatiently until each pottery class comes around, my head buzzing with ideas that I want to try. What if I try this shape, or will it work if I use this amount of clay? How will it look after it's fired? Will this glaze allow the drawing to show through?

I've been making jugs mostly. I love the idea of focusing on one type of object and trying the different variations that are possible within this constraint. I'm attracted to utilitarian objects, ones which have a use but can also be unashamedly decorative too. Also, I saw an exhibition once where an artist used an empty jug as a metaphor for art. She described how art can only exist where there is a void, and artists are driven to fill that void through creating art. The creation of art fills a void, whether it's an internal void, an absence of something in our environment or society. I wish I could remember the artist's name because this concept has stayed with me for a few years now. So now as I'm making jugs I think of voids and art and the intense pleasure that art making brings.

My lovely pottery teacher asked me a while ago if I had got into 'the zone' as I was working on the wheel, throwing another jug. At the time I was still battling with the wheel, with centrifugal force and trying desperately to make a piece that looked half decent. I told her that I was most definitely not in the zone yet. Then one day as I moved my body forward gently cupping and shaping the spinning clay, it happened easily. It felt as though the clay had started to yield as I had yielded, letting go of what I thought should be happening and worked with what the wheel offered. As the rhythmic spinning seduced my ears I lost awareness of my surroundings and I saw only what was in front of me. I'm now OK with a bit of wonkiness here and there, but more importantly, I can now say with confidence that I had found 'the pottery zone'.

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