Raku. International Survey Exhibition. 2014. Text.

[This was a survey of eight international makers. Fifteen years after the publication of my book, Raku – Investigations into Fire, the exhibition provided an opportunity to review the ways in which vessels using the raku-firing technique can communicate.]

Catalogue Statement for exhibition at Tegelen,  Netherlands.

The work develops out of the questions raised by ceramics, and in particular in raku and firing; it involves a continuing investigation of the nature of the vessel, as a carrier of meaning, informed especially by the utensils of the Japanese tea ceremony.

The work deals with material contrasts of poverty and preciousness. The pots start from humble origins, made from clay, and refer to millennia old traditions of containment and pot making. By contrast, they are decorated with lustres of precious metals. They are made within, and informed by, the firing process called “raku”.

The work is thrown on the potter’s wheel because that activity brings with it a quintessential pottery skill associated with ceramics. I use the marks of process left by throwing and turning the soft clay, before cutting the hard pot, to indicate some of the history of the work’s inception. Like the geological record in the earth, there are suggestions of its beginnings in soft, malleable wetness and the stages leading to its conclusion in sharp, hard, broken lines. The rhythm of the lines is often disturbed by a gash inflicted on the wet clay, which references the softness and concavities of the human body, intentionally emphasising the physicality, and sensuality, of ceramics.  These craft objects  function like a fossil record of Making, in the way that they allow the viewer and holder of the piece to retrace some of the experience of their inception.

David Jones