Monday, 5 March 2012

Living in the Past?

Are some ceramic practitioners living in the past? In my post 'Ceramics will Take Over the World' the point that I was attempting to communicate was that the country potter who supplies the local community with tableware at cheap prices is well and truly a thing of the past. We now have potters who work in urban and country studios providing what can only be called luxury goods. Industry has made it impossible for the potter to provide tableware, or any kind of ceramics at affordable prices. To provide tableware at the same competitive prices as Ikea would mean a life of the poverty line. I think that we ned to accept our new place in the world and adapt and change to fill it.

This is a teapot on sale from ikea for £6.99.

I am not making any technical or aesthetic judgements on this teapot. I a purely using it to communicate a point which is that I certainly could not produce a teapot and sell it for that price. I would not be able to put dinner on the table. The annoying thing is that your average consumer does not understand the research, development and hours that goes in to making a teapot such as yours.

This is a teapot by Linda Bloomfield, this teapot retails at £58.

I know which one I would like on both technical and aesthetic terms. I think part of what what we need to do is raise awareness of the amount of work that goes into handmade ceramics and the skill that is required to produce any one item. As much as I do moan about the Leach Legacy I do agree with the old boy that there is something unmistakably magical about using such precious items on a day to day basis, it is this essence that need to be communicated more clearly.

In India in some areas Chai tea is served by Chai Wallas on the side of the road in beautiful low fired biodegradable terracotta cups.

As soon as the tea is finished the cup is dropped to the floor, broken and trodden into the ground. The ground around the stands are orange after thousands of cups of tea. I cannot for one moment imagine getting my coffee from Starbucks in anything but a plastic totally un-biodegradable cup! Even though India is post industrial nation, it is more viable to buy wares from the local potter than it is from a manufacturer outlet as it is more affordable. Although it is changing there as well. The economy there is different. But those days have gone for us in the West. We need to accept that and embrace new horizons. Change is inevitable whether we like it or not. Ceramics is a many facetted beast and it comes in all shapes and sizes. Whether it is conceptual performance art.....

Or more traditional tableware..This video is LEGEND a must see!


Phill Schmidt said...

that isaac button video you posted was great! thanks!

Jane said...

This is such an important point that you make - and something that I struggle with a lot as a maker of functional ceramics. It is really hard to find a balance between keeping my work affordable (though this still has to mean more expensive than most mass-produced tableware) and making even a basic living from what I do.

Anne Castano said...

A lot of people I have spoken to say the key to this problem is to work collectively to raise the profile of ceramics, educate people so they understand how damned long it takes to HAND MAKE something.

Many also champion local community trade, however I think that not enough ceramics is sold out side the local community, we should think big!!