Thursday 14 March 2013

Why I Don't Fear IKEA

A few years ago an 18 year old, who had visited my studio, asked me what is the use of being a potter when nowadays you can buy very cheap tableware in every bigger supermarket, even in IKEA. He also wanted to know if it frightens me to have them as competitors. Yes it is true, one doesn’t have to go far to find cheap ceramics. And, no, I am not afraid of two-Swiss-franks-cups from IKEA. 

Bowl, wheel-thrown stoneware, 10 cm in height, 30 cm in diameter.

There is a big difference between studio ceramics (or pottery) which is created by an individual artist or craftsman and industry-made ceramics. I dare say that you cannot compare those two. If you go for the handmade pottery then you have chosen a product that is unique. There is a long way before you can eat your salad from your favourite ceramic bowl. Most studio potters don’t dig their clay from the nearest river bank, but even the industrially prepared clay has to be kneaded before the use. The future salad bowl begins as a vision or a drawing in a sketchbook. Afterwards it is either thrown on the wheel or built and decorated with one of the many other techniques. The bowl has to dry very slowly before it is fired for the first time. And finally it is glazed and fired for the second time. So before you can admire the finished product it went through the hands of the artist for many, many times. 

I am not judging this young person for questioning the sense of my potter existence. At that age one has other needs and priorities. Young people are more likely to invest their money in education, travelling or partying. Maybe they will rent their first apartment and buy their first couch and tableware in that Swedish store. Why not!

Well, the same youngsters will come to a certain age when their tastes and their preferences will change and they will start to appreciate those one of a kind salad bowls.