Yesterday, someone asked me a very good question about my pots: "Where do they come from?". She was trying to understand how I ended up pit firing moon jars. Its what you call a very good question (i.e. one that is not easy to answer!).
Anyway, I have been giving this some thought - in terms of finding the best way to describe the process, so here goes: Imagine you get the opportunity to explore a huge place where you have never been before. You have no maps but no fear of being lost because you have nothing to lose. At the start, you appreciate that there are literally hundreds of different things you could explore, but you know that you have to start somewhere. Which path do you choose ? In this first choice, your instinct and natural preferences will guide you. Quite simply, you will start your journey exploring what you think you like. As you do so, you keep asking yourself "Is this where I want to be?" After a while you see a detour ahead of you and you decide to take it. You might not know why, except that your intuition tells you this might be interesting. Your detour turns out to be a bit of a dead end and so you backtrack and continue along the more familiar path. As you travel you get better at learning when to try something new, to accept stumbles and dead ends and to be open to change and unexpected outcomes.
In terms of ceramics, I chose to make pots which were closely linked to organic forms - like plants and corals. This felt like an obvious thing to do because I am drawn to natural colours and textures and patterns, which preceded any interest in ceramics. First came the coral pots where surfaces were marked to suggest natural forms. The marking progressed to carving to suggest eroded stone and and also to adding additions to clay. In the case of the long twisted pot, this was made with sewn hessian fabric painted with slip. These were all interesting to make, and they all help to improve my technical ability, but I was never entirely happy with the finished work. When I asked myself why, I realised two things: Firstly, I realised that I wanted to make vessels which are based on classically beautiful forms. Secondly, I liked most of these vessels a lot more before they were glazed. Many of the glazes hardened the surface which made the vessels seem cold and dead (to me).
So where next? About this time I learned throwing on the wheel and the quest was on try and throw my idea of beautiful forms, and to find a way for them to capture something organic at the same time. My tutor also saw my frustration with the glazes and suggested I tried pit firing at home. All this takes me to my current point on the path. I don't know where I will go in the future, but this is not something I need to decide now. I know that as I continue to pose questions in the work, the path will continue to reveal itself in front of me.