more or less
easy to know
that diamonds are expensive
good to learn
that rubies have depth
but more to see
that pebbles are miraculous
This poem, by abstract painter Joseph Albers, was a major discovery for me, in that it seemed to justify the interest I have always seemed to have in the landscape, and the elements within it.
Another seminal moment was reading a Henry Moore statement as a student, when he asked why it was that when we walk along a beach and out of the millions of pebbles available, we are attracted to just a handful, or even just one. His answer to his question was that we all have a particular and unique character and ‘vision’ that responds to codes and templates of certain shapes, lines, forms, textures and colours, and that the pebbles (and shells, and bits of wood etc) we identify with, match that code. By identifying with them, it is as though we have found a mirror of those shapes and forms within ourselves or, had we had the time/skill/confidence, we would have created them, as our ‘perfect shapes’.
Many of my raku ceramics are moulded from, or inspired by, such forms in the landscape and I consider my raku ceramics more as ‘vessels’ for holding things I have found (and identified with), rather than as ‘bowls’ for containing things you may find.
These ceramic forms made from boulders and pebbles, are meant to be handled and touched like we would with the original stones, so that, in some way, the ‘handler’ can derive a little of the pleasure that I felt in making them. Again, Henry Moore was very aware that 90% of the pleasure he derived from his sculpture was the tactile pleasure he received in the making process while it was under his fingers. In galleries that (necessarily) adopt a ‘do not touch’ policy, only the remaining 10% of what Moore experienced is at best left for us and our other senses other than ‘touch’, to enjoy.
The surface decoration, glazes and acrylic over-layers are largely derived from the landscapes of our northern moors, Wales and beaches and other remote places, where I find myself walking, with my note book and camera, and turning over objects, and often thinking ‘Hmm, now that’s interesting’.