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oh yes … then there are the ceramics

April 15, 2019

When I returned to ceramics after a break of 50 years it was for a number reasons.  I enjoyed watching the Pottery Throw Down and it looked like fun.  Especially as I was finding my own company since I had recently retired tedious at times; a little creative community for a morning each week seemed like a good idea.  While see myself making art and perhaps something lovely; for me it was the tools and craftsmanship that drew me.  Like tapestry weaving, with its loom, heddle, shed and shuttle, printmaking with the letterpress, press and engraving tools.  Therefore, learning the craftsmanship and then allowing my need to undo the rules and make art.

It was assumed by others that I had been inspired by Grayson Perry, perhaps, but not directly.  Although I had seen him once or twice on TV and his ‘show’ at the London Palladium.  He was to me more a celebrity of the upper echelons.  I even saw some of his work at an exhibition by the Serpentine, wonderful as it seemed, not for the likes of me a retired library assistant, a granny with a dodgy degree. So how can I reach such realms; Grayson Perry the Royal Academician and Turner Prize-winner was not my hero then or now.  However, his style and attitude does interest me enough to learn more and apply that to my own practice as a textile artist, printmaker and ceramicist.

Soon, I was building pots and moulding plates; becoming fine fabrics, surfaces, canvases to which to add print, text and stitch; works in the style of Perry while they do not compare with his wonders as seen in the Tomb of the unknown craftsman, like ‘I have never been to Africa’ and ‘Frivolous now’ they go along way and allow me to mix and match my other skills

How did Grayson Perry, self-acclaimed Essex trans potter make it into the wonderful world of art?  In his book Playing to the gallery he tells of the human being and the human mind being able to transform the most traumatic experiences to a positive.  Surely like John Craske and Hannah Ryggen I can relate to that.  There is still the artistry; where does that come from?  Glenn Adamson says we can all be taught a craft by experienced craftsman and goes on to say that not all craftsmen are artists.  This was always a apparent in the print room, in the weaving studio and now in the pottery; some are able to make a product but not a piece of art.

Grayson Perry, talks of a signature material; his being clay while he suggests we don’t read to much into his personal narrative; mine I think is wood as the daughter of a wooden boat builder this could be right and relates for me to the tools and not the fabric.

He goes on to discuss outsider art and those who haven’t been to art school with little knowledge of the art world those like John Craske.  He suggests Henry Darger 1892-1973 who after a traumatic childhood, was janitor in a hospital after he died many artworks were found in his tiny home and then sold for many 100s and 1000s of dollars.

He reminds us that children make art, and unless it is recognised as he was then they sneak under the radar.

One wonders what hope there is to redeem my situation and further to find myself in a position to recognise art and craft in the art world with some knowledge.

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