1. How does my creative process work?
I make pottery. I hand-build coil pots. I don't use a wheel (I have tried it but everything I made came out seriously wobbly!) I prefer the process of slowly building up a shape one coil at a time.
The repetitive circular motion is relaxing and soothing. I like to make big, round forms best.
I usually roll out a slab as a base, depending on the shape and size of the pot, sometimes I put this in a bowl as a mould. I then begin to add coils (long sausage-shaped bits of clay, in case you're not sure!) one by one, joining each as I go. I gradually build up the shape, sloping in or out, and standing back to judge if it's a shape I like as I go.
When dry they are fired, then decoration or glaze (colour) is added and they are fired in the kiln again.
Some of my main influences are African, South American and Indian pot shapes - forms that have been used in every day life for thousands of years. The simplicity and natural grace of these rounded shapes sing out to me. I seem to channel these forms, it feels as if they emerge, it is not forced or difficult. Of course, sometimes I make 'mistakes', but they usually only serve to teach me more about how to work with the clay, to not force it or become impatient with myself or my material - useful lessons for my life as well as my pottery!
2. WHY do I do what I do?
I've had a lifelong affinity with clay. I was lucky enough to grow up in an arty family, so there was always a bag of clay on hand! I then rediscovered it in my early twenties, when I began hand-building. I retrieved one of my first pots from collapse and I saw that this material had a mind of it's own, it was almost like a living thing. I learned how to work with it and not against it. It became a dance where the clay taught me patience (something I lack with myself!) and courage to try new things.
The next time I got back in touch with clay was a few years ago, and this time I have kept it in my life! I was struggling with stress and found that working with the clay was better than meditation for me personally. It grounded me (after all, it comes from the earth!) and calmed me in a way that nothing else did. I found myself forgetting my troubles and being in a state of flow.
I do what I do because I feel a need within me to do it, an urge that nothing else can satisfy. I do it because I can. I do it because I feel happy and fulfilled when I do it. I do it because of the smooth, solid, pliable feel of the clay in my hands, and the pleasing shapes I am able to make with it. I do it because it shows me I am capable of creating something..sometimes something beautiful - and I can make it with my hands, and not a lot else. I do it because for a few moments, or hours, I can forget all the demands on my time and the worries my mind tells me are so urgent. I do it because I can share something of my true spirit, without words or explanation, and I can give joy to others - not to please them or gain approval, but to simply pass on some of the joy, fun and the love I got from doing what I do.
3. How does my work differ from others in it's genre?
As my work is hand-built it differs from other potters work that is thrown on a wheel. My work has slight imperfections in symmetry, whereas wheel-thrown work looks very even and symmetrical. I like the look of something hand-made, it lends a bit of the maker's character to the pot, it is truly individual and unique and cannot be exactly reproduced. I like the fact that although my pots are balanced in proportion and fairly even of line, they are not absolutely perfect - they remind me that life and people are not meant to be perfect!
' Imperfection is in some sort essential to all we know of life.'
4. What am I working on at the moment?
I have been experimenting with colour lately, and I'm very pleased with the results.
I have also been mixing clay with sand and making some small pots (quite a departure from my normal big ones!) to fire in a bonfire in the garden at home. One of these will be sent all the way to Australia soon!
Thank you for letting me share my work and my love of clay with you. I hope that you feel inspired to make something too - remember, the world needs creative people to make their art!
' Creative people are the resource that permits civilisation to advance.'