Monday, July 12, 2010
My friend has to go into hospital for an operation. I suggested that she take her own teacup with her. As I was having my own cup of tea this morning I wondered why I thought having your own teacup might make you feel better and using a generic hospital cup might make you feel worse.
The only comfort thick, white slightly scratched hospital cups are offer is the fact of their bleached,impersonal, grey-scratched cleanliness. The fact that crockery is very clean is unlikely to offer a patient any comfort, or relief from the fear and pain.
The very feel of a familiar cup in your hand with it's associations of home and loved ones could go long way to quieting fears. This is where handmade cups are at their greatest. In their inherent texturality, the individuality of handmade pots creates connection both between the vessels and the user and between the artist and the user. These associations are driven far from the patient in the sterile, flourescent lighting of the hospital ward. I've often thought potters should band together and provide handmade cups and teapots for recovery rooms for chemotherapy. The chemical process being finished off with a simple ritual of tea or coffee (or even water) in handmade cups marking the transition between being a patient entering the world again as an individual.
Being in hospital is a scary time, alienated from your own body by the processes of modern medicine and by the necessarily sterile atmosphere, bringing your cup from home is a powerful reminder that you are an individual, you fit into the world and are connected to the human race through mysterious and comforting everyday rituals.
The intimate, familiar feeling of your cup at your lips can whisk you out of the hospital and back to your own kitchen. What other small object would have so a powerful and comforting effect?
All tableware made by Australian potter Sandy Lockwood including my own favourite cup pictured with Jane Sawyer teapot and little blue Susie McMeekin milk jug.