10th of October 2013
Do I want to be an artist?
While I write, I also read about Danish ceramics - and it's exciting! The literature I have read up to now has mostly been on English studio ceramics. That means there are gaps in my knowledge of the development of Danish studio ceramics. As I am reading, a lot of things fall into place - when I know the story, I can place myself in relation to tradition.
Firstly, I realized that the tradition is not very long. It is a tradition that began with artists, who in the 1880s began to make work in ceramics. And also the tradition of the porcelain factories whom employed artists, that helped developing the profession and finally the potters factories that was partly based on the pottery tradition, but also was responsible for the developments for a modern time.
So it is at least three, quite different, directions, that formed the basis for the education of artistic studio potters, which was founded in 1925 and fostered the tradition I'm a part of now.
Back to the question I ended the last paragraph with: Can I continue to strengthen the artistic side, without losing the functional? If I base the answer on tradition, then yes.
As I outlined, the Danish studio ceramics is born of three things; the porcelain factories, the artists and pottery factories. So workmanship, art and design are fused together as studio ceramics.It gets really exciting when you then read about the more contemporary ceramists. Right up until my generation, the vast majority dealt partly with the functional ceramics, partly with the more artistic side. There is a tendency that the artistic side has taken up more space, the further ahead in the career you look. Is that due to more time for reflection? That you don't need the functional work, economically? Getting to a higher conceptual level? Those the ceramists strive to move away from the functional?
When we get around to my own generation, it appears that there is a change. There are those who choose the artistic path and those who choose the design embossed way. If you put it up sharply, there are artists and designers - but where are the crafts? Is it a natural progression to have a gradual split in art and design (again)?
When I look at the ceramics, I am inspired by there is a trace of function in almost all of it. But it also work that rises above the purely functional. I build on a tradition and as I get to know it better, I understand why I place myself between the two main trends I see in my generation of ceramists.
I define myself as a "kunsthåndværker" (the Danish word brought together from art and workmanship - this is different in English language and tradition, but I will translate it to potter). All these thoughts are important to me because I see myself as new to this whole area - I am not born in it. It is important for me to define my role, in order to understand my goals. My role is inevitably a consequence of the tradition, I am a part of.
My initial conclusion is that I need to become more aware of what this position means. Currently it means more focus on an artistic contemplation. But that does not mean that I'm an artist or want to be an artist. I am a potter.