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Ceramics as Performance



What follows is an abstract of a talk I understood I'd be giving this April, but which is on hold for now due to an over full program. I give the abstract here as an appetiser --


"I will be speaking as a potter without any academic training in Ceramics. or in Ceramic history; nevertheless I will use an explanation of some of the language I use in talking about my work as a way in to understanding my creative impulse and working process, and how I very much consider the idea of ‘performance’ as central to both creating pots and sending them out into the wider world; this includes ‘performance as accomplishing’ and ‘performance as engaging/entertaining’. ‘Inspiration’ is a key theme, which I will discuss with reference to my earliest sources of artistic inspiration in my childhood and on through my life; in particular I will talk about two contrasting types of inspiration, conceptual inspiration (acquiring ideas about what to make from external sources) and fundamental inspiration (being the drive to create). ‘Improvisation’ and ’spontaneity’ are fundamental to my approach, and this, by way of analogy, leads to a comparison with the explicitly performing arts, of dance and music. For this purpose I will consider Contact Improvisation in relation to dance, and free jazz in relation to music, and how they relate to my own creative expression, and to my way of making pots. ‘The dance of making’ is the way I came to describe my process from the time I started to make pottery full time from the age of 29, and I will discuss how I came to use those words and what I mean by them. That naturally leads into considering the many other words and phrases which imply that a healthy pot has a quality of ‘aliveness’, and in introducing those, I will discuss in more detail what makes a work of art alive, particularly then in the context of relationship – my own relationship with the work as maker, the Gallery owner as intermediary, and anyone else who sees, handles and engages with the piece in their own terms. Finally I will look at what, for me, makes a particular pot into a successful performance; what is ‘perfection’?"


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