Thursday, December 14, 2006

3 Things Strangely Connected

"Mathematicians sometimes use the word "elegant" to describe the grace and felicity with which elements of a mathematical proposition connect. It may seem far-fetched to borrow the term and apply it to this most humble soup. But I believe it fits. It is certainly not elegant in the sense that it is fancy. It is elegant in the way the different properties of it's meager ingredients are explored, developed and exquisitely related...." from Marcella Hazan's "More Classic Italian Cooking"

This passage is not only an example of the wonderful, evocative cookery writing of Marcella Hazan but also a lesson for artists to take to their hearts. It is hard to describe what makes a successful piece of work and I have not found a better description than that "the meager ingredients are explored, developed, and exquisitely related"

Linking mathematicians and Broccoli Soup is the work of Australian potter Jane Sawyer. Sawyer's work perfectly illustrates the Broccoli Soup principle to me.

Jane Sawyer’s work is a contemporary interpretation of hakeme brushwork popularized through the Japanese mingei movement. She uses line in a loose gestural way which accentuates the soft form and also the very nature of creation of the pot.
The three "meager" elements, terracotta clay, white slip and clear glaze combine with the movement of the artists body and hands to create these powerful statements on the physical world. One thing I really admire about Jane Sawyer's work is that despite their abstract, sculptural quality these pots retain their original purpose by being usable tableware. In this way Sawyer’s pots are using form and brushwork to draw attention to the process of making but also in their tactility seduce the user to contemplate the process of using the pot. Carrying these pots to the table encourages one to consider the link between the human body and the inanimate object. In keeping a strong link to their usability Jane Sawyer's pots transcend the “mere” sculptural.


Anonymous said...

I love this type of work. I could take it to the table every day, and even relish washing up :)

great post.


jsms said...

Thank you Shannon, and "anon"! I am very thrilled to have your comments about my work pointed out to me, and now to have read them myself! The internet is indeed amazing. I have always taken Hamada Shoji's advice that it doesn't matter what the materials are, how humble they may be, that to go deeper and deeper into the exploration is what makes any work more meaningful. And you are right, it is the process of making that drives this work - rather than trying to conceal it I prefer to reveal it, warts and all. Ultimately it is a very Zen thing and although it becomes more meaningful to me, the maker, to pare back to the simplicity, I often think I'm making the work more inaccessable. So to have others reflect on it positively makes it a million times more meaningful! We artists all work in a vacuum and love reflection and critical comments when they come. Thank you.
Jane Sawyer