Sunday, June 27, 2010


pottery workshop, Territory Craft, 2010.
One feature of the artist's life is the workshop.
Among other things, it enables the artist to teach their craft; to pass on their skills or draw out the skills of others.
Workshops can take many forms. Probably the most common is the hands-on class where students will follow a set of instructions from the artist and make something.
Oh, if it was as simple as that!
Then there is the 'watch me do it' class where the artist will demonstrate their skills and we will all rush home to our shed, kitchen, laundary, back yard, living room floor and make something.
If it was that easy!

Then there is the outing. 'Follow me and I will show you how easy it is to do'.
So, how come mine doesn't turn out like yours?
And so on.

Then there are those who can mould their students as they would a fine piece of
pottery or a delicate piece of jewellery. The artist who is also a teacher uses the same skills to extract the best from their students as they use to extract the best from their clay, camera or canvas. Watching an artist teach is akin to watching them create. It's a beautiful thing to behold.
I've seen a few in my time. None is better than Cecily. But she does have an advantage over some. As a teacher of many years before she became a 'potter?' she had already honed her teaching skills. Taking on pottery in her 'later' years seemed to come naturally but for those who have followed her work we know it's been a hard, persistant, frustrating but satisfying journey that, for her, doesn't have an end; just a never ending path of discovery.

And that is how she approaches her students.
Watching the students draw on her knowledge as they teach their own eyes and hands to do what they need to do is quite hypnotic.

I wonder what goes through their heads as they see changes in their own skills and feel the change withing themselves that grabs all of us at some point. Then they, too, become the teacher and the artist becomes the student.

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