What potter does not have in her consciousness Michael Cardew's jugs, plates, and jars, Bernard Leach's tall vase with fish decorations or plate with a brushed rabbit, and Lucie Rie's long-necked vases with their wide-flaring rims? Don't we all carry, somewhere inside our heads, an image of a Shoji Hamada slab bottle? A Tang Dynasty horse? A face jug from the South? Long before the Internet we read books- sometimes even a potter's own book and discovered her thoughts; we looked at photographs and studied the shapes of various forms - pitchers, teapots, jars; we went to museums and gazed upon pots behind glass; we visited potters in their workshops and, if we were lucky, watched them work. Now, we go online: watching videos of potters busy in their studios and visiting their websites where we play slide shows of their artwork. The catalogue of pottery residing within our heads has increased exponentially, and by extension, has expanded our consciousness of potters and pots profoundly.
Online, I watch slipware potters Doug Fitch and Hannah McAndrew work, he in a worn, low building in Devon, England, surrounded by flowers, ducks, and a cat named Bernard underfoot; she in a whitewashed stone building in Scotland, with dairy cows in the adjoining building as neighbors. Vicariously, I experience a part of their lives in clay as I continue to watch videos of them working separately, and more and more often, together in each other's shops. They stack and fire her kiln during a cold and heavy rain. I wait and worry with them for it to be cool enough to unstack. I admire the lovely pots that emerge from the kiln, their robust shapes and glossy glazes in rich tones of honey and molasses. I want one of his large jugs, one of her sliptrailed plates, mugs from each of them.