Thursday, 9 October 2014

My Mum's Ceramics




This blog post is written (admittedly) a little late, since my mum had her exhibition last summer at the ice house.  But I wanted to write about ceramics because I believe the combination of beautiful pottery and great food must be celebrated.  




Ceramics is an art form too often neglected in the contemporary world, mainly, I assume, due to the ability to re-produce decent quality pottery on a mass scale.  This production is clearly the most popular, because it is sure that you will be able to buy machine- made plates that are are all identical.  



I am no ceramist, nor would I ever pretend that moulding clay or using the potters wheel ever interested me.  When I was a child, I would accompany my mum to her studio and watch her work.  Often she would put me on the wheel with some clay and I would make an un-object, some strange shape that was neither a vase nor a beaker.  I would quickly wash my hands and ask her for 20p so I could buy a chocolate bar from the vending machine and if my sister was with me, we would be get 40p, which would get us a can of tango apple!  It was the only time we'd be allowed fizzy drinks.  Ceramics started fascinating me as I got older, went to uni and started realising how much nicer it is to have food from a large ceramic bowl than any other recipient.




Pottery is made by forming a clay body into objects of a required shape and heating them at an extremely high temperature in a kiln, thereby removing all the water and moisture and strengthening the material as well as setting it's shape.  


         


Considerable skill and experience are required to throw pots of an acceptable standard.  In addition to the potter's hands, techniques include the use of tools for cutting and piercing, such as knives and wires.  Thrown pieces can be further modified by the attatchment of handles, lids, feet and sprouts.  




Unfortunately, five years ago, Great Western Studios, where my mother had her studio for 20 years, was knocked down in order to make room for a rail extention.  Along with half a hundred artists, my mother had to pack her pots, sell her huge kiln and leave in order to find space to work elsewhere. The space cost in London is so high and the demand for hand crafted ceramics is so low, that it was difficult to find a convenient space at an affordable price.


           

Being a get-up-and-go kinda lady, she found a college which would allow her to continue.  However, the use of space was limited and so she also started to experiment with different art forms: jewellery and prints to be precise.


Jewellery is certainly easier to sell, certainly because it is easier to give jewellery as a gift. Imagine the situation, carrying a metre high vase: (Out of breath) "Happy birthday!  I'm sorry I missed the starter, I just couldn't carry this up the stairs..." Rather than, a suave, pulling out the sleek necklace: "Hey, I picked up a little something up for you..thought it would go well with your green dress.."  

What I love about my mothers ceramics (and now, her jewellery too) is her perfection at imperfection.  Human beings are not machines and therefore cannot reproduce identical looking objects.  Eating and drinking out of my mothers hand crafted bowls and plates is a sensation that is hard to beat.  




             

The art of dining is not only about the taste and smell of food, but also about the presentation.  When we think about presentation, we immediately assume the visual aspect of what is in front of us, which is not really what I mean.  What I mean is when you use beautiful art with the combination of great food, the sensation is somewhat elevated; it feels so real, so rustic, so kind.  It truly is magical.  It isn't even something that is easy to explain in a blog post, but hopefully some of these pictures will give you an idea of what I mean.



One day, (in my dreams!) we will all come back to a world where hand crafted objects combined with hand crafted food will be the epitomy of beauty and reality, where through our senses we can see that this, this was handed over from human to  human.