Formed by Light and Fire, Thrown Contemporary, 2021
Having explored working with porcelain for over forty years, I find that I am ever drawn to it as my primary medium of expression. It is the quality of flux in the liquidity of casting slip, or the fine feel of throwing which captivates me. Although I love to paint, it is porcelain’s fragile and translucent strength, it’s high resonance and the dissemination of light which I love. Clay offers an endless versatility for expression.
Pottery is at once the simplest and the most difficult of all arts. It is the simplest because it is the most elemental; it is the most difficult because it is the most abstract. Historically it is among the first of the arts.
From: Read, Herbert. The Meaning of Art. London: Farber and Farber, Ltd. First published in 1931
An exploration of both myself and the human context has become a life’s vocation conducted through the lens of my hands in clay. Broadening horizons have come with time, and this influences the parameters of my exploration. In the early days of working, I used to decorate and illustrate on the surface of the material, but these days it is the flux of light within the walls of the material itself which holds my attention
I work through earth and heat to invoke something which is clear and light. We need new intimations and materialisations in our fragmented world. Arresting a drip of glaze on a vertical surface invokes both stillness and flux. Accepting fracture and disruption invites the first possibility of movement rather than fixity.
Porcelain is an exacting task master but it has become a fluid dancer in a partnership of exploration and expression.
This perfect material has taught me to become more attuned to the processes of heat and to the tenor of sound and to the intelligence in the hand. It demands the “ten thousand hours” of devoted practise (far more in fact). In turn one grows a meditative practice.
The light passing through collapsed folds and forms reveals itself in the the translucency wrought in the firing. This brings its own joy. As humans we are continually collapsed and collapsing and through the flux, there is always the possibility of light.
One brush mark across a surface can stand for many things. A landscape becomes a vessel, a wavering form becomes a human state, the relationship between two vessels becomes a conversation.
We are going through hard times, requiring much adaptation and review. The choice to move through the challenges with fluidity and hope is an invitation to transformation through the heat of this time.
All images by Alistair Blair