I am often asked by fellow artists “Why do you make pots?” On the one hand this question can demonstrate a general lack of appreciation for the complexity of pots as objects, but is also an essential question for me to ask myself and has prompted me to re-evaluate my practice and combine my interest in historical European ceramics with my studio work.
Having produced a comprehensive body of functional tableware over the last four years I have returned to my original passions and ambitions with a new body of work that I hope begins to discuss the complex ideas and social influences that are embodied within pottery.
For this show I have made a variety of pieces referencing the work of Josiah Wedgwood. The forms are familiar and are inspired by Wedgewood’s neoclassical style. For me Wedgewood is a particularly interesting potter to draw inspiration from because he was keenly aware of the social needs and fashions of his time. This included the rise of the ‘middling classes’ and the increasing popularity of social dining, as well as the desire for antiquarian artworks from Europe’s upper classes. Wedgwood understood the human desire to promote specific ambitions and ideals through the objects we interact with on a daily basis and display in our homes, and he was aware of the power these objects have to denote a specific lifestyle or aspiration.
Imitating Wedgwood is not my intention; rather I am interpreting his work as a studio potter. Studio pottery is imbued with its own language and history, and it is through the juxtaposition of these recognisable forms from our industrial age and the language of studio pottery that I hope to start a conversation.
For me, this work is about the status of form, function and material, as well as the perceived cultural and social value of the objects that we choose to have in our homes.
Pots fascinate me because they embody and articulate nuanced details about society and culture. They are relics or signals of taste, social behaviour and cultural history. These everyday objects span social divides and convey very concentrated messages about their owners and their environment.
It is through this work that I hope to explore why I think pots, the most social objects in our lives, convey a deeper message and hold more significance than is often realised. And most of all, I hope I am answering the question “Why do you make pots?”