Week 4 Constellation: Self Reflection

Having discussed how materials and environment hide from view in everyday life I realise that I’m very lucky to be studying ceramics. Unlike other subjects the material is central to our practice. Although with more industrial techniques like press moulding and slip-casting it’s possible to ‘intellectualise’ away the material, when working directly on the potter’s wheel, the clay immediately commands respect and you learn very quickly that you can’t impose yourself on it.

I have also developed my understanding of the arguments surrounding phenomenology (how the body experiences itself in the world) and the idea of the body schema: the ability of the body to feel in relation to space. Lately I’ve been doing lots of throwing and I feel in some ways the potter’s wheel is incorporated into the body schema, like when you drive a car. I forget about the fact that I’m using pressure from my foot to turn the wheel and the changing of speed is done almost subconsciously in relation to my hand movements. As a next step I want to try throwing on a kick wheel to see how taking out that automatic element changes the sensation of the process.

Additionally in the session we read what has been written about the action of ‘from-giving’. According to the artist Paul Klee ‘Form is set by the processes of giving form, which is more important than form itself…Form is the end, death’ whereas ‘Form-giving is life’. This understanding could be important to me as a practitioner because it might influence what kind of work I decide to make. Production throwing seems to be concerned with final form and the repetition of accurate ones. Performance art on the other hand is about the ‘in the moment’ action and not any final outcome or creation of ‘form’.

Another way I might think about form-giving is considering how what I make shows traces of how it was made and the way this brings and object to life. I’ve started thinking about the way potters remove their work from the wheel, some wiring off when the wheel is stopped while others prefer to cut while the wheel is moving to get a series of grooves on the base revealing the direction of movement. Klee’s quote reminded me of something Lucien Freud said: ‘A moment of complete happiness never occurs in the creation of a work of art. The promise of it is felt in the act of creation, but disappears towards the completion of the work. For it is then that the painter realises that it is only a picture he is painting. Until then he had almost dared to hope that the picture might spring to life’.




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