- Vol. 06
- Chapter 07
Pictured is the past in grey-scale, the present as silver, through an elliptical mirror to crowded shelves of the hand-thrown, the time-thrown, the mind-thrown. Three-quarters of a picture, framing an image: the white of the sun. Rows and ranks of pots and vases, slender and big bellied, jars and containers for tea and salt, spices and condiments, teapots and milk jugs, mugs and cups, nameless statues and two sheep stood nose-to-nose.
Mud, cold and wet, pulled out of the earth and handled with the idea of shape and purpose. Mass dropped and spun, added and taken away, and, finally, cut loose from the wheel, its home. Forms taken to the kiln to harden in heat, to make their boundaries fixed and resistant to touch. Slips, are to make surfaces for the eyes and fingers; some bright, some dark, some matt, some shiny; the ordinary properties of the touched, the held and the seen.
We choose and hold our belongings, fill them up and empty them out, live with what we live with, and, in time and mostly, cease to notice the things that exist in a relation to us of repeated utility. But there are moments when familiarity passes, pauses, and the object returns to us, perhaps entirely new, alien presences, more alive than we are, or shapes of pathos, freighted with all we have done through and with them. Objects that carry the mass of our selfhood: heavy and evanescent, permanent and fragile, transparent and opaque.
The potter has a name, not to be known here, that calls them to duty or leisure or love. Her hands might be his hands, and this might matter or not. Other aspects of the body will exert gravity on that form and on other bodies, as it rises into life as a historical being among others: changing, saming, becoming, belonging, relating. So much narrative is consequent on the human form and how it is read, and self-read, how much it is missed, how much it is unread, unmade.
The potter is a maker, who leaves their posterity in things. Out of sight might be the botched, the perfected but lost in an act of intended, unintended, destruction, the unfinished, the abandoned. In sight is the potter’s keepings, the chosen, the works that relate to one another in the absence of the maker, the mute material statement of modest creation: for life, for use, for life.