I wrote yesterday about how much I enjoyed the BBC4 programme ‘Ceramics: A Fragile History‘ about the history of British pottery.
One segment that I found particularly intriguing was the contrasting interview snippets with Grayson Perry and Edmund de Waal. One, very serious and measured, an aesthete in a tidy room, making an arrangement of clean white cylindrical vessels, worrying over the variety of whitenesses and textures, and concluding he needed to redo some of them. The other, unshaven, wild haired, surrounded by untidy piles of paper, slouching, applying photo transfers to the side of a huge pot, cracking jokes designed to aggravate. One wouldn’t be caught dead anywhere near a potter’s wheel, the other describing his attachment to the ‘throwing’ of a pot on the wheel in almost spiritual terms.
They each seemed so perfectly matched to the pots they produce; you would be unlikely to confuse the work of one with the person of the other. And I began to wonder how true it is that our working environment, our work, our appearance are all reflections or facets of the same thing. We create according to the things that inspire us, the topics that are important to us, but is it also reflected in how we organise our work space, and our posture at our desks?
Do tidy people produce tidy sentences? Is mess around us reflective of disorder in our thinking, or is it a sign that we are so focussed on the creative process that we can overlook the washing up? Could I change the nature of my work by changing my environment, or what I wear when I’m doing it? Is it cause and effect or correlation? Or a bit of both?
I thought I’d not previously heard of Edmund de Waal, but in checking his name I came across this article in The Guardian which made the link (for me) to his authorship of ‘The Hare with the Amber Eyes’, a book I’ve picked up and put down again in shops several times, but which now intrigues me.