A return to west Wales has revived my interest in the handmade item, perhaps due to the particular morphic resonance that permeates hereabouts. Local peer pressure, whether it be from the land’s memory or from my human neighbours often favours practical substance craft over the pretensions of grandiose Art. I struggle with the relevance of the art vs craft debate, in as much as I struggle with the problem of value verses beauty, whatever either is. Art is more important than craft, I’d say previously, to those asking me to make a bowl. And, In the greater scheme of things, meaning is more useful than purpose. Anyway (as I see it), the purpose of being an artist does not include being useful, per se. Such essential arrogance is the flesh and bones of art’s existence, I know this.
I also enjoy for its own sake the process of learning and using a skill
To me the worth of making a bowl is not about art
consumerism, subject to the consumer demand for brand name, reputation, fashion, tradition, want, and so on. None of which are essential Art qualities, some of which are just about that vulgar thing – taste
To me the experience of making-craft can be more enjoyable than making-art, but the results of craft are always humbler, no matter how stunning. Craft lacks the attribute of awe, the wonder of the unknowable, as in Arts ability to transform conciousness. Once the bowl’s shape begins to form on the lathe awe is replaced by clarity, control removes the mystery of the unknowing.
The prescribed outcome of the event disables the doubt, the edginess that makes Art
And yet, making these vessels is partly a submission to the whim of nature, which can never fully be controlled and remains ever impenetrable. I may know how to utilise the wood’s particular type and character, I’ve learnt a good method to make it bowl shaped, but nature and its laws define the absolute outcome, has the final word. Without my say-so, the wood can twist, shrink, crack, many things are unexpected. I like it straight, nature likes it wobbly. This is no art of my doing, nature is the ultimate if feckless artist here.