I have added some pictures of the work I have been making since arriving in Eastbourne. My new but old kiln is still waiting to be hooked up in the garage....but it is only a matter of time before I and my ceramics start to take over the world! (mwa ha ha ha ha)
I have been pondering the long history of ceramics and the human relationship with this mud of muds. It's long and ancient history threads through weaving its way side by side with the evolution of mankind. This is not to assert that clay needs us in some way it is clear that we need it more than it needs us. It could be said that this mud is as close to us as the clothes on our backs, we piss in it, drink from it, lick it smash it and fly to the moon in it. It could be argued that it is integral to our development as a species it has played a significant role in our cultural customs.
I recent years with the advent of industrialisation the manufacture and use of ceramic as a product has morphed into some thing all together different. This has happened at break neck speed, given that until the advent of industrialisation in the late 19th century nothing much changed for thousands of years in the production of ceramics for domestic use. The need for the leach-esque bearded potter has faded much to the disgruntlement of the potters wishing to live the dream in the countryside churning out earthy cups and plates for the local community. People now buy their cups and plates from Ikea because they are cheap and they look cool. ( I have to confess my plates are from Ikea, as much as I would love hand crafted wares, I just can't afford it).
So what of the people with the muddy hands? Is this situation simular to the advent of photography and the effect it had on painting? Painting was no longer needed as a functional representation of the world. So it morphed and abstracted into something more subjective and non-representational. With out function. Well now people don't need rustic hand made pottery - they might want it, but they certainly don't need it.
So what of these people with the muddy hands, the ones with the desire to make, what is their role, what is their fate? The desire to make is integral to the maker, it will not simply disappear. Speaking as person with clay under my finger nails as I type i feel this very potently, I am concerned for the future of ceramics. I predict a time of flux (pardon the pun) in ceramics. Change is inevitable, we must embrace it, and move with the tide. There will always be a place for the leach type potter, but those resisting change must make way for the new and stop blocking the natural development of ceramics as a discipline. It might sound odd but I feel instinctually in my blood that this is true.
I read a letter titled 'Unhappy With Changes' in Ceramic Review (issue 253) its was stated that the publication is full of 'pages of meaningless conversation and psychological analysis of 'artists'' I disagree I don't think it can be that meaningless if even just one person who works in clay feels the need to frame their work within a critical context, to give it deeper meaning and to find a foothold in the contemporary world. The day of the leach-esque potter has passed, it is not relevant in this day and age. This quote from an essay in the book 'Deliciously Decadent Ceramics' struck me as holding a great deal of truth;
"Leach's rustic Cottage Pot with its faux humility, drab palette and monk-like adherence to functionalism. (one can argue that the spectre of the university-trained, middle-class man and women taking on the role of the peasant potter is a form of decadence in its self a la Marie Antoinette plying shepherd in the gardens of Versailles)"
I anticipate changes in ceramics that are already evident is some areas of the discipline. Simular to the end of the 19th Century when we saw painters abstracting and pushing boundaries, testing their medium to its limits I expect to see work that pushes and stretches known and accepted definitions of ceramics. Not all of it will be good, or bad. But one thing is sure, we cannot live in the past and we cannot stay at the crossroad inevitable decisions will be made and a new path will be hewn.