Reason for Being: Joe Hartley

Joe Hartley

It occurred to me these last few weeks that the time I spend on things has suddenly become incredibly quantifiable.

All the other elements of the universe that normally distort my perception of time passing have disappeared, leaving just a house, a garden and a very small pottery studio at the bottom of it which I was incredibly lucky to complete building a week before lockdown arrived.

Something that fed this thinking was my vegetable seedlings, they haven't been growing recently even with the weather we've had, why?

They have of course been growing, it's just I wouldn't normally be staring at them every hour of every day. A watched pot never boils I thought, perhaps this is the reason kilns are not see-through.

The notion of something feeling like it isn't changing due to it happening so slow is no new one, especially to anybody who works with clay.

It can be felt during the cooling of a kiln, whilst learning how to throw or even in the waiting of a pot to dry, but today this notion urged me to undertake a small experiment in the form of that classically lengthy and age-old exercise in pottery, processing clay out of the ground for use.

Delivered to you today in the form of a 70s recipe:

Take a kilo of clay straight from the bare cold ground and split into thirds.

One of the thirds shall be thrown on a potter's wheel into a bowl.

One of the thirds shall be wedged then thrown on a potter's wheel into a second bowl.

The last of the thirds shall be dried for a week, watered down, sieved, dredged, dried again for another week then wedged and thrown on a potter's wheel into a third bowl.

Cook your bowls at 1280c for 12 hours and serve with tinned mandarins and cream.

The result is obviously three very different bowls, the point being to see how clearly it quantifies in appearance where time has been spent. This whole notion intrigued me and off the back of it I've been undertaking further experiments to see if they can shuffle up something new.

Joe Hartley, Multi-Disciplinary Maker & Ceramicist
Reason for Being


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