03

Moon: waxing crescent.
Soundtrack: new TOOL album
Lunch: homemade rosemary and lavender cake (vegan)

September. It’s getting colder.

The light has changed, becoming whiter, and the trees stream noisily overhead when I cycle home from the pottery.

I love this time of year, it’s rich with emotional connections and memories. I feel my inner life condensing and coming into focus as the earth cools and the jumpers come out. I’ll slow-cook some stews, sharpen my axe and chop some wood. I’ll have more energy to clear away some obstacles, or start something new. I don’t know if this is just me, or if others feel the same way. This year I’ve been allowing more of this autumnal energy into my work. I’m making pots for the cold, with northern-ness and long nights fired into them; cauldron-like, craggy, not consoling to look at but powerfully tactile, and carefully glazed so they are good to drink from. I feel happy with this first kiln: I find the pieces satisfying in themselves, but they also are a clue to the next pieces I will make. They are like lumps of emotion transmuted into icelandic lava.

Sylwia’s been enjoying making more of her beautiful silk-screened mugs and bowls. She’s got great instincts, and always seems to choose the right combination of clay body, glaze and pattern design. Silk screens can sometimes end up looking over decorated but these have everything in balance. The raw clay gives you that essential tactile quality as well as the bold visual appeal of the ravens, and the satin smooth glazed inner means you can enjoy your flat white as well.

We share an attitude towards this relationship between visual and tactile. Pots in general need to be touched to be fully encountered. Theirs is a physical presence where mass and energy are in constant circulation. I think touch is proper for pots as the gaze is proper for paintings. You don’t go up to a Rothko or a Cy Twombly and rub yourself all over it, however much you might want to; similarly, you won’t get a full sense of the pot if you only look at it. I love the way clay disrupts the gallery-sense invisible-rope division between the work and the experiencer. Of course you can’t maul an Akiko Hirai and expect the curator to be calm, but the fact is pots want to be picked up.

We want to populate the space between your palms.

Life at the Pottery continues with its own cycles. We have a stream of welcome visitors in our gallery, our lovely students continue to fill the big room where we do all our making, the drying racks and kilns are flowing with exciting, new work; and we have about a quarter of a ton of clay to recycle. The whole process really is extraordinary, so much of our best work literally starts off as sludge; it’s what I was saying last week, beautiful things grow out of shit. And eventually, many years in the future, who knows, our pots will be shards buried in the ground.

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