I am reading this book at the moment. I sit and read it at the desk in my studio, it makes me feel invigorated and inspired for a number of reasons.
Like: Cardew only came to pottery late in life, that's reassuring isn't it? We don't got to rush.
Like: the observations in the book are gentle and generous.
Like: all the mistakes and meanderings are mentioned. It doesn't read like an amped-up show off; just plots a humble journey by one person.
And I thought I would share with you a long quote: I like it because the voice is kind and authoritative and generous, it also embraces amateurism in the nicest way."When you first begin to learn to use the potter's wheel . . . your first efforts are taken up with trying to control it, to contain it, to possess it.""At the next stage when you begin to get some control, two things happen concurrently; first you begin to explore what the clay can do, how far you can go with it, where the limits are. And then you try to turn it into something like what's in your mind. What is in your mind is perhaps some pot you have seen and liked, and you think you are trying to reproduce this form; and so you are, but also you are in fact making something of your own. The effort to reproduce what you saw has already involved you in something else . . . something which is both you and not you.
During the effort to imitate or reproduce , you come up against the limitations of your own technical control. You find you can't quite succeed in creating the exact form you had in mind, but you do the best you can with the rudimentary skill that you have so far acquired. You stretch your technical resources to their limits and the result usually is a new realisation, a re-creation (successful or unsuccessful) of the form you saw."Then, once you've mastered the wheel you try to be innovative . . . "Having mentally proposed to oneself that what one hopes to produce is a 'new' shape, one proceeds by conscious control to make just that. But even at best, that will only be a projection of your intellectual way of looking at things. Such pots are shrines dedicated to your own ego; they come from a conscious act of will, not from the compulsion of love. They will be sterile, ego-bound and esoteric instead of being as all true pots are, generous, common and universal."
Hear - hear.But which is my favourite pot? Well, seeing as you ask, I like these two . . .