Art and Aesthetics in Action
Written by: Professor Severyn T. Bruyn

Pottery


China Set in Forest (Two Pictures]
Dinner Plates [detail]
Salad Bowls [detail]
Dinner Mugs [detail]
A Cup


The philosopher and historian R. G. Collingwood argues that “art craft” should be distinguished from “art proper.” He says, “Craft involves a distinction between means and end.” The “means” are utilities like tools, machines, or fuel. A craft requires a distinction between planning and execution, “The craftsman knows what he wants to make before he makes it.” The craft person draws a sharp distinction between raw material and finished product, a distinction between form and matter.  All these things that distinguish a craft are not essential to “art proper.”

Collingwood argues, “Art proper expresses an emotion,” as simple as that. “The artist proper is a person who, grappling with the problem of expressing a certain emotion, says, ‘I want to get this clear.’” 

But how far can we take Collingwood’s idea that “craft art” is different from “proper art?” To what extent are such types of art really different? Could they also be mutually involved, in some manner?

The potter begins with some given clay, they say. But the clay begins its journey in the earth. The clay is given its colors by Nature. The evolving minerals in nature create those first fast colors. Now, the human potter begins.

This second potter may find the clay is gritty and earthy. Clay then demands a vigorous powerful “working” with hands. But the clay the potter receives might also be smooth and silky. Then it demands a delicate touch.


China Set in Forest (Wide Angle)
China Set in Forest

China Set in a Forest (Detail)
Dinner Plates [detail]  ; Salad Bowls [detail] ; Dinner Mugs [detail] ; A Cup

Thus, after the first work of art by Mother Earth, the artist enhances the colors.  The craft of coating pots involves applying complex slips and glazes. Pots can then be made into virtually any form, rough or smooth, matt or shiny, whatever you like.

This is a risky craft. Potters take their chances. They never know when a disaster will strike. A disaster happens when the clay is not well prepared, or when the “centering” is not accomplished perfectly before shaping the pot.

When potters build large vases, disasters may be frequent. Potters must be prepared for tragedy.


Pottery Bowls
Pottery Bowls


Pottery Bowls with Tools
Pottery Bowl with Tools


A Dish for All Things
Dish for All Things


Covered Dish
Covered Dish


Failure is the norm for those who build a large flower urn.


On The Edge
On the Edge

If you ping “on the edge” of this bowl it will sing.


Flower Urn
Flower Urn

Michael Casson, an experienced and skilled potter, is not put off by this awful risk.

An exciting new range of forms and pots of great size await the thrower bold enough (and with kiln large enough!) to tackle these methods. Not only necks, rims and whole new sections can be added like this but at the other end of the pot, feet and pedestals can be added in a similar way.

The danger is that the concept of the whole pot will be lost in this multiplicity of processes. But there is danger in every additional process whether in making, decorating or firing. A sensitive awareness of form, color and texture is essential at all times. It is what makes in the end for a good potter. We can all aspire to this sensitivity toward materials, processes and forms…



China Set in Forest (Two Pictures]
Dinner Plates [detail]
Salad Bowls [detail]
Dinner Mugs [detail]
A Cup

Pottery Bowls
On the Edge
Pottery Bowl with Tools
Dish for All Things
Covered Dish
Flower Urn
Necklaces
Tree Fairy
A Circle of Gnomes
A Circle of Hobbits
The Pilot
Masks
Naked in a Bowl
A Turtle and the Elements



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