It is a perennial problem for artists of all descriptions that not enough people buy original , handmade work. I've heard many, many discussions about this over the years . Potters take a range of views from "The public just don't "get" handmade pots and that is why I'm not selling more. " which could be best described as sour grapes, through to "Maybe ceramics are just not fashionable enough for people to buy and the industry is dead." Neither of these opinions encompasses the complexity of the world we live in and how artists fit into our communities.
Design blogs and magazines are aspirational, most people do not live in tidy houses where gleaming objects lie in tasteful arrangements on vintage Swedish sideboards. The relationship of humans to objects is complex and encompasses personal history, emotions, memory, habits, practical needs, evolving relationships as well as aesthetics. It is rare to find a home where all the objects are chosen to match each other for purely aesthetic reasons. The contemporary ceramicists greatest challenge is to find a place within a life, to become an integral part of the complexity and rich texture of a home. This involves building relationships. Not just personal relationships with those who want to buy and collect your work but also making work that hooks into a person's sub-conscious. Intelligent intriguing objects that the collector longs to see, objects that comfort and provoke emotion.
Judith Rofe, a great supporter and communicator in the world of ceramics recently made the point that:
"People looking for an aesthetically pleasing object for their sideboard - one that they will purchase from the heart and possibly pay more for than they meant to - may not have the opportunity to see Australian pottery in the places they go to. Outlets are few and far between, exhibitions ephemeral, potters with open doors not necessarily well advertised or signposted."
A potter's task is to signpost and advertise the aesthetic, emotional and practical value of handmade pots. It is a conversation which involves the sometimes boring, sometimes painful but always useful act of listening to others opinions and needs and responding to that with a new pot or a solution, or an discussion.
* "Haptic" refers to sense of touch. It is a very useful word for potters but really quite academic and I've often found it a bit scary. Good word to pull out at your next Scrabble game though!