August 9, 2011 § Leave a comment

Potfest in the Pens took place in Penrith over the weekend. I went on Saturday and, nothwithstanding the torrential rain that fell all day, it was an exciting and inspiring day out. What affected me most about the day was discovering a potential community of like-minded people, over 100 potters were exhibiting, with everyone passionate and enthusiastic about their craft. It was a warm, friendly and supportive event and potters were keen to talk and offer advice.

I bought these two beakers from Sue West, who is based in Windermere, which are so fine and delicate. They are slip cast stoneware, thin as egg shell, and she uses the form, primarily, as an object upon which she can work the surface. They are lovely to hold and a pleasure to drink from.

The outcome from that day that I am most pleased about is that I met a potter who has agreed to teach me, initially for a day but with the potential to be an on-going arrangement. His name is David White and he creates these fantastically expressive, painterly, earthernware pieces.

I know I wrote in the last blog post about the value of working things out for oneself but there are elements of the pottery process that I have no knowledge of and would benefit enormously from his considerable experience.

On my way back from Potfest, I stopped in the book town of Sedbergh, where I found the most amazing book, published in 1959.

In the book, Marguerite Wildenhain talks about “something that [a student] gets in the daily contact with a man who has worked and concentrated all his energies in that one special field he has chosen as his life’s work. The daily interchange of ideas, of experience, of thought, the common interest of student and teacher in the solving of the recurring difficulties of their profession…” I’m looking forward to my time in David White’s studio.

As I say, Wildenhain’s book is a wonderful, contextual book. She writes powerfully and persuasively about a master potter being a “full man’s job”. The artist (or artisan) “throughout his whole life…will have chosen as the measure of things, not money, nor success, nor power, nor the machine, but man, the very genuine essence of man.”

One of the last photographs in the book has the caption: “to learn to think, to work, to develop as a craftsman is a lifetime job, and it is worthwhile”.

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