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  • janenewaudby

All the books you ever read

I have a bit of an inferiority complex on account of never having been to art college. Its not really a status thing, its more that because I did a law degree, my brain has been trained differently. I know I was a creative minded kid, but legal training requires a certain amount of linear thinking - logical, rational, sensible.... It doesn't mean you are not practical, or a problem solver, but its pretty hard to suddenly adapt, aged 50 something, to think in a different way. I want to get back to my 12 year old brain that knew how to jump the rails and take creative flights of fancy. It must be in there somewhere. A few years back, if I tried to think outside of my trained thinking methods, I would feel walls of resistance. They are still there, but loosening up a bit. Anyway, I am a great believer in the benefits of practice, so I am planning to try and break down a few more of the walls with a bit of training in the creative direction - going through exercises in creative thinking. I also seize opportunities to put it into practice. Like the Potfest competition.... every year Matt Cox sets a theme and potters who exhibit at all the Potfest shows can submit work. Its a very lighthearted competition, but the works are usually made with serious intent! Mostly, its an opportunity to marvel at the diversity of human creativity. Give a bunch of ceramicists a theme and a lump of clay and see what happens. No two submissions are ever the same. This year's theme was "Rooted in the Past, Planted in the Present". For some reason, I immediately thought of books. I have always loved reading and I suppose, "All the Books You Ever Read" were all rooted in the past, and planted in the present. So I imagined an all white tower of books, like a marble sculpture, individually made and featuring 50 or so of my favourite books. It was a labour of love - a homage really to the amazing hours I have spent time travelling and adventuring in books. I just had to work out how to make it, and figured if I made a few books a week for a few months, I would get there. It was a ridiculous effort for such a thing, but it meant something to me. I didn't win any big prize from the potters but at both Potfests I won the public vote on the Saturday, which was lovely. I suppose if one of the measures of art is to communicate with people, I felt like I had achieved that - and a small piece of my creative wall came down. Incidentally, I also had a whole load of lovely conversations with strangers which had nothing to do with my usual work, but everything to do with the meaning to them of a particular book. So this summer I also met some of the hidden tribe of book readers. Its been one of my favourite parts of the year so far - and all because of a piece of ceramic art.

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