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  • janenewaudby

Changes in time

Activity in the shed this week has been mixed. I have been trying to carve the swan necked vessels into more ambitious shapes, and I have learned a lot about what doesn't work. My clay recycling bucket is full for my troubles. As ever, this is progress, but I have to remind myself of that as I have nothing to show for it (except for a bucket full of sludge). I have one new shape thrown to play with this weekend and my final moon jars and pods to carve for the May exhibition. Perhaps on Monday I'll have something new to show you.

To keep you amused over the ceramics dry patch, I have dug out one of my favourite family photos. Its the 1911 wedding of my Great Grandfather George Preston to Great Grandma Lilian Sankey. Their respective mothers are alongside them (fearsome looking ladies).

I love this photo because they are all looking so very serious in their flowers and finery. There is also a strong sense of time in this picture. It was taken shortly before the world went mad with two world wars. Its incredible to think that barely 30 years later the Western world was discovering rock and roll and television. I look at this picture and I wonder what happened to the little children and how they fared in all the change. Did they even survive? Somehow I can feel the family thread that bonds me to these people who I never met.

This picture makes me wonder which of our generations had to adapt most to change. Was it the generation that lived through the industrial revolution? Or was it George and Lilian's generation who witnessed the two wars and all that entailed (their home City of Coventry was destroyed). Or is it our generation? When I started work, I had no computer and no mobile phone. When my sister was born in 1990, I had to wait for two weeks to receive photos by the mail. Twenty five years later and I am sharing my photos instantaneously all over the world. Yet somehow, these changes seem hardwired. Perhaps that is the great thing about people; our ability to adapt. I wonder what the next 30 years will hold for us all.

I had a debate recently with a scientist (with a special interest in artificial intelligence) who predicts that hand making pots will eventually be redundant. He says that this will be obsolete because anyone will be able to design and 3D print any item they wish to make. In a sense, this will mean we all become "makers" (divided into people who "design and make" and others who will just print from a template). My scientist friend and I were in agreement that this will be tremendous in terms of the opportunity it offers. Fewer items will need to be freighted, there may be less waste. I can indulge my love of fixing things (and not throwing away) because I will be able to print spare parts.

What we could not agree on was whether a 3D printed ceramic vessel (which exist today by the way) will have the same magic as a "hand made" vessel. Certainly, tech savvy studio potters will be able to create complex ceramic structures that cannot be made by hand. I am equally sure that other studio potters will still produce unique hand made vessels in the "old way". Probably these will appeal more to those who like the imperfections of the "hand made" objects over computer generated uniformity. I will probably be counting on that.

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