String art, iconic of the 70s. I am wondering if I could incorporate this with my ceramic pieces.
Orphans, foundlings and fostering in literature: a child’s view of belonging
Next year, when you watch a Christmas film, it might be worth taking a moment to reflect on Cameron’s words. How about Elf? A story that begins on Christmas Eve in an orphanage, when a baby climbs into Santa’s sack and gets taken to the north pole and adopted by Papa Elf. Think of them also when you come across Peter Pan, Oliver Twist, James and the giant peach, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Pinocchio … and think of it when you watch The Wizard of Oz.
Within a few minutes, says Tom, the mothers were gone. In his book, he describes the heartbreak of what happened next to the “sorrowful group of confused, unhappy infants … some sank to the floor in utter defeat, many made a headlong dash to the door through which their mothers exited, only to have their way blocked”.
His most precious possession, a white fluffy rabbit that he took to bed every night, was taken away – all the children, he says, were parted from their toys and shown the vast, 30-bed dormitory where they were to sleep. That night he remembers the sound of weeping from the many lonely boys and girls.
My grandparents’ lives, stashed in my loft
It was hardly an archive. It was a collection of odds and sods that would mean nothing to anyone. And yet these scrappy things meant everything to me. I couldn’t bear to look at them, let alone figure out if I should get rid of them.
Yet whenever I watched a television show such as Britain’s Biggest Hoarders, the thought of my grandma’s faded, ragged makeup bag would cross my mind. I had it in the bottom of my wardrobe and occasionally got it out to smell it. Yes, I know this is vaguely unpleasant. But it did smell of her even a decade later and would transport me right back to a room with her in
Modern pottery is tasteful, simple, clean lined and dull. Please don’t revive it
A £1m find in Leeds and a new BBC show The Great Pottery Throw Down have put ceramics in the spotlight. A pity, then, that so much pottery is too repressed to be considered art
A ceramics expert says that after discovering a £1m collection of modern British pottery in a bungalow in Leeds, he knows how Howard Carter felt when he peeped into a long-lost tomb and got his first glimpse of the treasures of Tutankhamun.
No, he doesn’t. Carter found wonders that tell of a lost world. The hoard of ceramics found in Leeds and being hailed as a marvel is just a collection of prissy, repressed, pseudo-artistic vases and bowls.
There is nothing more boring than modern pottery. My eyes glaze over at the names of revered “makers” like Lucy Rie and Hans Coper – the very names being touted as the stars of the collection assembled over decades by Pat and Alan Firth.
Clearly, the Firths were very tasteful people. For there is nothing so tasteful as a simple, clean-lined modern vase. And nothing so dull. Modernist ceramicists in 20th-century Britain combined the idealism of the William Morris tradition with an abstract austerity inspired by ancient beakers and bowls. The result is a style of domestic object that exudes holier-than-thou morality, sexless artistic restraint and oatmeal puritanism.
Just one look at the kind of precious craft objects the Firths favoured makes me want to pig out on a book of Jeff Koons kitsch while eating a monster bag of Doritos and putting my beer can on the arts and crafts table without using a coaster. Pop art was born to free us from this cult of the handmade. Plastic was invented so we’d never again have to pretend that vases are art.
OK, that’s going too far. The history of ceramics is splendid and rich. In the V&A’s gorgeous ceramic galleries you can feast your eyes on a stupendous array of pottery, from blue ancient Egyptian earthenware sculptures to porcelain animals made in 18th-century Prussia. There is no restraint or repression in the long history of ceramic art before the 20th century. Renaissance painted plates, rococo lovers – the variety and creativity with which people have given form to clay, throughout history, is astounding.
Yet it all narrows when you follow the story into modern times. Modernist potters have a hallowed conception of their craft. The serious modern potter is an abstract artist in clay and a priest of a nobler, simpler way of life. It is hard work revering such objects. Why should I?
Only Picasso understood the power of clay to create the modern (or postmodern) form. Picasso’s ceramics are magical; he conjures up mythic creatures and fills his designs with primal joy.
We crave craft. Cake making, pottery – it all frees us from the readymade supermarket world. I am not surprised the BBC is following up The Great British Bakeoff with The Great Pottery Throw Down. But the hyping of this Leeds pottery hoard reveals how confused we are about what constitutes creativity in clay. A reverence for dreary elegance crushes imagination. I hope the potters in the new BBC show do not turn out lots of safe, respectable Morandi-like vessels.
Instead, I hope they shape sloppy animals, tottering towers, grinning faces and whatever even more bizarre wonders the kiln can fire – the kind of stuff the Firths would never have given house space.
Dave of photoblog Freaktography recently captured some amazing photos of an abandoned home in Ontario, Canada. The strangest part about the photos is that the inside of the house is surprisingly well-preserved. Dave blogged that he got the idea to visit after one of his friends posted pictures of the same location.
Dave was able to speak to the home owner’s daughter, who is now 76-years-old. Through his conversation, he learned that the house was willed to a local church when the owner passed away, and that the daughter and the church were in a dispute over who would receive the land. The most mysterious part, and what was never revealed in the conversation, is why she left all her belongings in the house for over 30 years.
How I love finds like these, a time capsule, a portrait of those who owned the objects. Objects say so much more than a painted portrait ever could; from them we can build up in our imaginations a picture of the person/people who owned them and used them. I particularly like the consumable, everyday things like medicine cabinets. I love packaging, seeing how it has changed over the years or the claims made of what a product could do written in such colourful language.
These are the sort of objects I would find very hard not to buy if I came across them in a charity shop or somewhere similar. Some of them are iconic of the 70s,of my childhood, objects I previously owned and most which I’m sure I would have a story or memory of a particular person attached to them. I’m not really sure where my love of 50s design came from though.
Ways of Filling Space
I love the confusing, disorientating feel of this image.
This is entirely from embroidery threads.
I am thinking that my furniture and objects could be laid out in some sort of maze to encourage/discourage the viewers movement, to limit their choices, just as it is in my house.