Looking at the photographs of the Richard Batterham exhibition recently ended at Contemporary Applied Arts and hearing about it, what strikes me is the vision of the work and the space he creates in it for continuing stories. There are bowls made in 1962 close by the same bowl made fifty years later. The similarities and profound differences are the measure of a story still being told. And that is not the only story, I have a lidded jar of his that I keep coffee in. It is beautiful, very useful and will outlive me. It has Satish Kumar's BUD within it - beautiful, useful and durable. It holds my coffee and the story of my relationship with it, really well.
Made objects have their own story, of the conceiving in the maker's mind, the meeting of intention and action when the object is made, thrown, turned, glazed and fired, and the object that reveals itself when the kiln is opened. The predictability of the process in no way diminishes tension and the pleasure (or not) of that moment. Any object has a story, its own and the tale we invest it with when we pick it up. A pebble on a beach, a book of matches, a railway ticket.
Batterham's retrospective was made of pieces he had held back, the ones he kept because they spoke to him. Maybe there were pieces he didn't put up for sale because to start with he wanted time to discover how he felt about it. There is an intimacy in the relationship with what you make. Going to friend's house to see a piece of my work in their washing up rack is a huge pleasure, and I remember the piece and sometimes its story. My past work is clumsy and awkward, but even so reminds me that I was imagining this object at that moment. For me it holds a particular story. For my friend it holds another. And stories are our engagement with each other and ourselves, our intimacy.
Recently I have been putting together a showreel of work that I have done . Its purpose is to show potential employers what I can do, it's an opportunity to showboat. Each piece has a story of how and why it turned out the way it did, for you watching, they are glimpses of stories that maybe you have seen, or are intrigued by (or not). But they are not frozen for either of us, both in terms of how I feel towards them now, or in how you look at the reel as a single piece. For me also it's creating an object which I hope will affect the future; I need to work, to carry on with that work. As I work on it so it becomes more rounded, more skilled, I get better at manipulating the editing app. There are lots of technical hold ups and reversals, each time I get sent back by error or lack of skill, something is revealed.
And in the garden of the pottery a kiln is finally taking shape that has gone through a similar process of reversal and over thinking. Both the showreel and the kiln are means towards an end, and both have taken on a story of intention and imagination. What will the story be this time next year? Richer and surprising.