In this section I will give you some insight into my way of thinking about pottery. Ultimately this should not be necessary, because if I am doing my work right, the pots should do the talking. But nevertheless I hope this will be interesting for some one and may even stir up some interest in hand made pottery in some one previously unaccustomed.
Time is an important factor, when thinking about ceramics. On the one hand is pottery one of the oldest cultural techniques of human kind and on the other hand it is to be considered, that burned clay survives its maker by a few thousand years.
Looking back at the long history of ceramics always meant an inexhaustible treasure trove of ideas, shapes and guidelines for me. A traditional shape, like the one of the Chinese shoulder vase (mei ping vase), has been repeated, edited, described and test so much, that it has found its valid place in the world. It is an honor for me, to work with shapes like this and maybe my own part to its development.
Thinking about the future, presents me with a great challenge. If the things I create stay in the world for such an unimaginable amount of time, they really should be the best possible pots I am able to make. But this thought also invokes childlike dreams about someone finding, at a time I am already long decayed, a shard of my work and it brings some happiness to them.
The ability to draw from the rich history of ceramic production from all over the world is an important cornerstone of my work. To learn from the old ones enables me to develop my own personal work along guidelines that have been tested by the most powerful force, time.
My main influences are:
- neolithic ceramics
- There is something magical about the beginning. The appeal of those pots can not be copied but, even thousands of years after their creation, they be admired and enjoyed.
- Chinese ceramics of the Tang (618-907) and Song (960 – 1279) dynasties
- The combination of technical progress in an highly developed culture with still a hint of beginning makes this time span to one of the most fascinating periods in ceramic history. Unpretentiousness, tightness and power of the shapes combined with gorgeous glazes.
- Korean ceramics of the Goryeo dynasty (918 – 1392)
- Assimilation of Chinese shapes and glazes and combination of local traditions brought forth a distinct style of ceramics. The Korean potters mastered the technique of inlaying white and black clay into the surface of celadon glazed pots like none other.
- European med-evil pottery
- The traditional craft pottery had to be produced in large quantities, be cheap and durable. With the need for uniformity not yet developed this has lead to some beautifully powerful pots with breathing personalities
- British studio ceramics around Bernard Leach
- Has a great influence on my way of thinking about making ceramics in a time of industrial mass production. Bernard Leach, born in Hongkong at the end of the 19th century, tried the create synthesis between the ceramics of the east and west.
We live in a time, where it is possible to produce stuff in seconds, perfect and uniform. Thousands of factories spit out millions of pots every day. Those pots, produced cheaper and faster than ever before, are affordable for most people.
I can not compete with those factories on their terms. I try to do something completely different. My goal is to create something with characteristics that are not quantifiable in the rational machine world. I want to create a few pots that breathe.
The way technical defects in hand made pottery are regarded differs from culture to culture. In Japan every one of the typical faults has a flowery name and can be celebrated in a way that some potters started to produce them deliberately. In Europe on the other hand, most pots that exhibit flaws of some kind will end in the trash or are sold as cheap B-ware.
I think, flaws are often important for giving personality to a pot. People are not perfect, why do our pots have to be? The small grain of clay on the surface my favorite tea bowl looked and felt strange at first, yet I find my hands looking for it every morning.
I do not try to produce flaws like this deliberately nor do I try to hide them when they happen. But I use materials and work in a way that encourages those unplanned, yet enriching defects.