Process [David Byrne & Paul Noble]

People tend to think that creative work is an expression of a pre-existing desire or passion, a feeling made manifest, and in a way it is. As if an overwhelming anger, love, pain or longing fills the artist or composer, as it might with any of us – the difference being that the creative artist then has no choice but to express those feelings through his or her given creative medium. I proposed that more often the work is a kind of tool that discovers and brings to light that emotional muck. Singers (and possibly listeners of music too) when they write or perform a song don’t so much bring to the work already formed emotions, ideas and feelings as much as they use the act of singing as a device that reproduces and dredges them up. The song remakes the emotion – the emotion doesn’t produce the song. Well, the emotion has to have been there at some point in one’s life for there to be something from which to draw. But it seems to me that a creative device – if a work can be considered a device – evokes that passion, melancholy, loneliness or euphoria but is not itself an expression, an example, a fruit of that passion. Creative work is more accurately a machine that digs down and finds stuff, emotional stuff that will someday be raw material that can be used to produce more stuff, stuff like itself – clay to be available for future use.

David Byrne [reflecting on a conversation with Alice Rawsthorn, former director of the Design Museum] Bicycle Diaries, p.192

Reminds me of a talk for the RCA Painting course by Paul Noble. I’m always interested in the way artists approach, or talk about, skill. It’s surprising how defensive even very successful artists can get when you draw attention to technique (Patrick Keiller was another). I asked Noble about it and he duly said that technique was unimportant. I can’t agree – surely his drawing relies on a sophisticated technique that will have taken years to hone, whether or not it was seen as an important element of the work’s content? He also said something like, “you don’t want to be reinventing yourself every day when you get to the studio”, which I like, even if it doesn’t fit with the disavowal of skill. Love his work too – some great ceramics in the 2007 Gagosian show, Dot to Dot:



Krug | Cruche | Jarra | Jug (1 litre)

Meanwhile, back in the studio…

I will be delivering new work today, for this:

Layout 1

The work is a play on the volume of a jug, made at Prinknash Abbey, Gloucestershire. My friend, Kevin de Choisy, thinks it a very poor example of the form, but I quite like it. Anyway, it’s what’s inside that counts…

One Litre Jug_Prinknash Pottery_web


Krug | Cruche | Jarra | Jug (1 litre)

But if the holding is done by the jug’s void, then the potter who forms sides and bottom on his wheel does not, strictly speaking, make the jug. He only shapes the clay. No — he shapes the void… From start to finish the potter takes hold of the impalpable void and brings it forth as the container in the shape of a containing vessel. The jug’s void determines all the handling in the process of making the vessel. The vessel’s thingness does not lie at all in the material of which it consists, but in the void that holds.

And yet, is the jug really empty?

Martin Heidegger The Thing (1971)

When, in the appearance of the handle, one of its two functions is completely neglected in favour of the other, the impression made strikes a discordant note. This often occurs, for example, when the handles form merely a kind of relief ornament, being fully attached to the body of the vase, leaving no space between vase and handle. Here, the form rules out the purpose of the handle (that with it the vase may be grasped and handled), evoking a painful feeling of ineptness and confinement, similar to that produced by a man who has his arms bound to his body.

Georg Simmel The Handle (1911)

Wilson has developed a way of working that incorporates research, making, drawing, documenting, writing and existing objects – often included through ‘guided chance’. The exhibited works are selected by-products of an ongoing ‘game of Jug’, instigated by Heidegger’s essay and the subsequent ebay purchase of a jug made at Prinknash Abbey, the home of concrete poet, Dom Sylvester Houédard (‘nada nada’ from ceolfrith 15). Working out the limits of the game is a form of speculation on the reality of a jug.

Poseidon_Full Void_Nada_webJug+Hand_Front_Tip [Converted]JUG_6



George Saunders on writing

We often discuss art this way: the artist had something he “wanted to express”, and then he just, you know … expressed it. We buy into some version of the intentional fallacy: the notion that art is about having a clear-cut intention and then confidently executing same.

The actual process, in my experience, is much more mysterious and more of a pain in the ass to discuss truthfully…

An artist works outside the realm of strict logic. Simply knowing one’s intention and then executing it does not make good art. Artists know this. According to Donald Barthelme: “The writer is that person who, embarking upon her task, does not know what to do.” Gerald Stern put it this way: “If you start out to write a poem about two dogs fucking, and you write a poem about two dogs fucking – then you wrote a poem about two dogs fucking.” Einstein, always the smarty-pants, outdid them both: “No worthy problem is ever solved in the plane of its original conception.”

Full article here.

AL Kennedy on Anthony Burgess

And part of his later use of essays, articles and appearances combined his writer’s vocation with that of a teacher. He’d met many types of people and was didactic in the widest possible sense – here is this joke, keep up before it’s gone; here is this word, you can learn it; here is my work, it exists and is part of culture, you can read it and also you might like to know that it is work, takes effort and that, for example: “When I hear a journalist like Malcolm Muggeridge praising God because he has mastered the craft of writing, I feel a powerful nausea. It is not a thing to be said. Mastery never comes and one serves a lifelong apprenticeship. The writer cannot retire from the battle, he dies fighting.” That’s art as a feet-on-the ground craft. And it’s writing as a way of being in the world – you get knowledge, you get skill, you get dignity, you get – if not righteousness, then some measure of contentment. Burgess saw the age of instantaneous fame coming, the toxic emptiness of much culture. It’s not at all an accident that another gentle ghost echoing through Earthly Powers is Tom, the music hall comic, the man who is praised towards the end of the book for practising a “comedy of kindness”. Burgess’s own humour could be less than kind – it was based on sharp observation, often of defects and stupidities, given that we’re only human – but he has Toomey describe Tom as a saint. In a book where there is a genuine miracle performed with terrible consequences, the spotlit clown is left the angel’s part. To see everything and still be kind – that is saintly. And educational. And entertaining. And a precious part of any healthy culture.

Full article here:


Anna Simson wins ACU commission

anna-copyMA Ceramics student, Anna Simson, has won a BSU commission to produce gifts for international students attending the Association of Commonwealth Universities Summer School.

The theme of the Summer School is ‘Creating greener narratives through the environmental arts and humanities’.

Anna was selected by a panel of BSU academics, led by Kate Rigby, Professor of Environmental Humanities and Director of the Research Centre for Environmental Humanities.

Anna will be producing approximately 70 hand-made ‘seed pods’, pit-fired with recycled materials. The school will support her to produce the objects, a process video and information card.