Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Taste - Can YOU Account for it? . . .

Can ‘taste’ change? What IS ‘taste’ anyway? And is it really true, as I was brought up to believe – ‘there’s no accounting for taste' - ?

I’m not sure I can answer any but the first question because clearly my own aesthetic taste has changed over the years. It hit me recently when I stopped to look a display shelf, which holds ‘special items’ – photos, books, baskets collected from travels, etc. - and I saw this particular pot, one of the first thrown in my only college ceramics class and one that I have come not to just like, but to cherish.

That isn’t how I felt about it at the time it was made.

I had for the first time, managed to pull a lump of white stoneware up to almost 5 inches tall, and I was thrilled. When I went to show it to the instructor hoping he would be pleased at my creation, he looked at it, smiled and then took it. And then, along with other student pieces, put it in a raku kiln while still wet. Much to our horror, he lighted the gas burner and turned it up. Fast.

Before we could muster a protest, he assured us this was a great idea. But hadn’t he already told us any piece fired in a kiln before it was totally dry had the potential to explode?

Explode? My smooth walled, 5 inch pot came out a pocked, cracked, smoked at the bottom ragged mess of a piece. I was sick that it was so ugly, especially since I had spent so much time on the exterior, trying to make it ‘perfect.’ To this day, even though I can’t remember his name, I remember him saying to me, “One day you are going to love this piece,” as he handed me what looked like something found at the bottom of rubble left by a bomb blast.

I’ve packed and moved this piece from home to home, all across the country. I never thought to throw it out although for years, I didn’t really see it as one of my treasures. And I can’t really tell you when that happened or why – when or why my taste changed. All I know is that today, this piece sits prominently on the shelf. I see it every day when I get up. And it makes me smile.

1 comment:

Egmont van Dyck

Hi Bobbie,

I enjoyed reading your story and can well relate to it on another level.

In many respect your instructor did a wise gesture by placing it in the kiln, saving it in the most raw form possible and especially before you might have a chance to destroy it.

As artist we have a need to hold dear a piece of work that is the first one in a new medium but do the same when we as an artist have made another break-through in technique and style, since the innocence cannot be repeated again.

In our house I can point to a couple of paintings which reflect a major shift in my work and these pieces will always be part of the family and handed down to the children.

Wishing you all the best