Twenty years of pot making has proved finally an exercise in learning to see

Twenty years of pot making has proved finally an exercise in learning to see: from throwing things out in a sort of rage at their incompatibility on opening kilns with existent ideas to hunting through shard piles finding interesting random breakage, pieces in the long grass ignored for years, transformed by neglect. Perhaps a looking aside, glancing without intent, a disinterestedness toward my own work provided the opportunity to begin appreciating what is there.

It sent me off to a nearby art college to do some drawing, maybe get past the limitations of what I understood and how used the skills acquired making, building kilns, making some more, working as a technician, teaching, helping on a farm, shuffling through the days. Perhaps I’d just gotten past the rush of achieving some skills, doing things never though about before, much less considered personally possible: that slow accretion of capacity ready to be used after passing what Michael Cardew noted at seven years in when you have changed all your cells and become a potter.

So I’m working on better seeing, recognising shallow unconsidered work while struggling to do otherwise. It’s not quirky originality or uniqueness in the quest, more a referenced depth of good work one occasionally encounters(whether a pile of amphorae dredged from centuries in the seas or a contemporary maker’s referencing some part of clay’s varied provenance) is mostly missing.

So I’ve gone to college, gather solace being engaged among others engaging with similar, familiar, problems, and find myself using on paper techniques natural to clay, realising how relatively unimportant particular materials are. How I return that to a large investment in kiln, wood pile, etc remains to be seen.