Monday, July 12, 2010

Prescription for handmade



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.

6 comments:

FetishGhost said...

What a great idea!

Dan Finnegan said...

I took a mug with me when I had my surgery last fall...and a few spares which I left with some angelic nurses! It was a powerful connection to my everyday life outside of those sterile walls. Great blog!

Ruth Quibell said...

Spot on, Shannon. Warm drinks comfort me - the tea and the cup intertwine to create the experience. But when I was in hospital earlier this year my tea was served in a plastic mug. Yes, plastic! It would have been awful at the best of times, but the faint smell of hot water mingled with plastic was horrible. All my senses were awake, and I can still vividly remember the nicks and ridges of the plastic mould. A handmade mug would've been a treat. As it happened, I had a special stone to cradle.

P.S. Saw your work had a nice pic in The Age's A2 the other weekend. It looked lovely.

Gloria Freshley said...

I agree -- a wonderful idea and a wonderful post. Thanks for sharing the others' work....(I always love seeing yours!) Best...

maria said...

dear shannon my special cup is not only beautiful but comes overflowing with love of its creator and thats going to be the healing presence in the room jaya!!!

Elisabeth said...

It's good to meet you Shannon. I'm here through Ruth Quibell's blog. Your work is inspirational and the stories that accompany these pieces are equally fascinating. I look forward to reading and seeing more, and all but touching more. Yours is a verbal, visual and 'tactile' blog. Lovely. I'm afraid I'm only good for words.