My most recent project has involved revisiting the idea of The Vessel. Easy, I thought, make a pot; It has an inside; it has an outside; it can contain things – job done! But then I remembered that I don’t DO easy. This straight forward approach had no chance of satisfying me. There had to be a more complicated way to consider the idea of A Vessel. For one thing, presumably if something is a vessel it has to be capable of containing something. If you pursue that thought far enough it becomes ‘if there is nothing in it, is it a vessel?’ Presumably this means that the contents of a vessel must be considered in the making. Unless you put something in it it may not be a vessel. While that was not necessarily the opinion of my dear friend, Winnie the Pooh, I think it might be important and so I got to thinking that perhaps the inside of a vessel is more important than the outside and the the inside should never be considered as just an empty space. I set about making vessels which tried to emphasise this point of view – where the outside merely existed to give a frame to the inside and as such should not be decorated to appeal while the inside appeared treasured; an inviting receptacle for the contents and decorated as a treasured thing.
Imagine my horror then, on opening the kiln, after an extensive period of researching, testing and making to discover the disaster that was within One piece had tipped over and stuck to the side of the kiln, one had slumped and stuck to a kiln shelf prop, none of the glazes had come out as planned, the interiors looked a mess. Misery descended! I took them out and wrapped them to take into college but in truth it was difficult not to chuck them straight in the bin. All the way to college I brooded on how I might salvage something from this project, anything which might give me a pass mark at least. Nothing came to me. But help was at hand in the shape of my college mates.
Having left the pots sitting dejectedly on my table I returned to discover that people had decided that, if they nudged the ambiguity of my original constructions a tiny bit further, they became something ‘other’ – maybe vessels or maybe not. And this is how they reclined, resplendent in their new found glory, ready for a place at Tate Modern whenever a curator wishes to pop round and collect them!