Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Deep Roots.

This was sent out in a press release today. I finished writing this at about 2am last night while waiting for a kiln to fire off. I think it'll give you a good idea about what my upcoming show is about.

Exhibit Statement:

“To be part of a tradition is to belong to a place, to have deep roots. “ -Mark Hewitt

The idea for this show came about in my hesitance to have a solo show. I make domestic ware that is relatively modest in size and I estimated that it would take some 300 pots to fill the gallery space. The volume of work required did not worry me but as a potter who makes a very limited range of work I was mortified at the redundancy of work that I would be forcing people to look at, how boring! Who besides another potter would really care to look at 300 pieces from one potter? My initial idea was to ask my friend Kent Harris to have a dual show with me but that still seemed like a lot of work for 2 people. I asked Kent if there was anyone he would like to invite that worked within the same tradition as we did. We tossed some names around and decided to go for broke and invite the potters that have had the strongest influence in our lives and work. Kent had come up with the title Deep Roots long ago in hopes of having the opportunity to have a show that presented the pottery lineage that he took part in; this seemed to be that perfect opportunity.

The tradition that all of these potters take part in is loosely known as the Leach/Hamada tradition with many taking influence from the Japanese Folk Craft movement known as Mingei which is roughly translated as arts and crafts made for and by the people. The days of the local village potter and the anonymous craftsman have long since past but the essence of the folk craft movement, beautiful objects for everyday use, is an ideal to which all of these potters have committed themselves.

"The challenge is to do the thing you have to do because you're in love with it and can't do anything else. Not because you want to become famous or rich, but because you will be unhappy if you can't do it.”-Warren Mackenzie

The public rarely gets a glimpse of what the life of a potter is like. With all this talk of tradition and ideals it is easy to become swept away in the romanticism of it all, but the life of the potter is not one of glamour. It is a life of hard work. We each individually produce thousands of pots every year. It is a life of long days and back breaking labor, missed suppers and kiln stoking at 3am, shard piles and second guessing. But this is the path that we have chosen, a choice of necessity. It is a life of hard work but it is also a life of unparalleled beauty and satisfaction.

"To me the greatest thing is to live beauty in our daily life and to crowd every moment with things of beauty. It is then, and then only, that the art of the people as a whole is endowed with its richest significance. For its products are those made by a great many craftsmen for the mass of the people, and the moment this art declines the life of the nation is removed far away from beauty."-Soetsu Yanagi

This short statement only scratches the surface of the significance of tradition in pottery and the intertwinement of life and work. I am still very young and very idealistic but if the oldest potter in this group, aged 85, can maintain this tradition and these ideals for 60 years and still running strong I think that perhaps I am in the right place. The potters that we have invited are in my opinion (and the opinions of many) some of the best living potters in the world. It is no doubt the privilege and the honor of a lifetime to show with them and to be a continuation of this tradition.

6 comments:

Ron said...

Nice Brandon.

tsbroome said...

This is really great Brandon! It expresses what so many of us think and feel. I'm going to print this out and put is up on my studio wall.
All the best for the show!!

Kyle Carpenter said...

well done. i looked for the poster at nceca, but couldn;t find one. my loss. good luck with the show.we'd all love to see pics.

jimgottuso said...

eloquent statement... good luck with the exhibition

Peter said...

Really great post and lots to think about. I'm so pleased that there are potters like yourself actually making things that you can eat off and drink out of! There is a huge amount of satisfaction to be had from domestic ware, both in the making and in the using of it. I love the thought of "deep roots", so much of life and art seems to be lacking in that department. Good luck with the exhibition, I'd like to be able to see it, but... several thousand miles of ocean separates us I am sad to say. P.

brandon phillips said...

thanks peter. i'll post plenty of photos from the opening. we've also been giving thought to putting some of the pieces up for sale online. we will also have a poster for sale next week.