Sunday 21 November 2010

Opening Day

The customers have gone; I am alone. Midnight has just passed and the five antique clocks which hang on the walls of Ebiya Gallery just struck sixty o'clock. It was a quiet opening, partly due to the fact that the advertising didn't start till Thursday, but also because that is what I wanted this time.

I had prepared half the exhibition two months ago, but there were always those other vessels that I wanted to make....and so the Mashiko Pottery festival came and went, and the shelves were full of pots waiting to be fired. I selected the best 400, and stacked the kiln. After over 200 wood firings I know where the flame will flow, where the ash will fall, where the clouds of vapour will caress the surface of the vessels. Using sea shells and Igusa straw I stacked the pots, and when the kiln was full I sealed it up and prayed. My skill is only a fraction of the finished pot, for at every stage I am borrowing the forces of nature and adding to them a purpose. It is the nature of matter, of amorphous clay, to find a shape which will bring balance, peace and harmony within the parameters of the natural forces at work upon it. It is the nature of humanity to be nature self aware, to recognise the beauty of nature and express it with our own unique voice. But we cannot control nature, we can only guide it, and it is only by surrendering control to the greater power of the universe that our endeavours can find true beauty in form. And so I fire my kiln, knowing about how carbon and oxygen and hydrogen and sodium will all play their parts, but understanding that the kiln, the flame, will tell me when it needs more wood, or  less draft, or more air.

Sean, with all the wisdom of a five year old, asked if he could help. "Of course", I said, though the kiln was seething at volcanic temperatures. "Can you count to 5?" I asked.
"Yes." said a confident small voice.
"Then please pass me five pieces of wood."
And so he did, and he arranged them in rows, and passed them to me when I needed them, and the firing belonged to him as well. When the pots emerged from the kiln they were his pots also, and they were the most beautiful pots I have ever made.

Beauty is not a noisy thing. It is quiet and strong and gentle.

I sit in the gallery alone, but not lonely at all, for these pots are born of my love of life, and each is a voice singing softly to my soul. All of my experience, those I have loved and who are gone, those who love me and give me strength, those who wait for my return, are part of these quiet pots, and I will sleep in peace tonight.


  1. My first comment ever, but your sharing of this quiet moment got me sort of choked up! thank you, and great success at your sale!

  2. C'est toujours très agréable de lire vos articles, et si je puis me permettre, vous aimez, aussi, le camembert. Merci beaucoup

  3. What a beautiful post to read! So peaceful. All the best for your show. I wish I could come and see. xm

  4. Thank you all!
    The exhibition is going well, and I am looking forward to returning home to my family soon.