Monday, August 20, 2012


I think back to reading and hearing about Bernard Leach's theory, that if you took five pots and ten "experts", all ten of the experts would agree on which was the best pot. Over the years however, from my own empirical observation, that would seem to be more theory that actuality. Through the years, I have been to quite a number of gallery and museum shows, with experts and aficionados alike and it never ceases to amaze me the wide array of choices that individuals arrive at. One person picks one pot, another a different piece and so forth, throw in the discussion of the various merits of various pots and what you arrive at is that objectivity is severely clouded by one's subjective reasoning and emotions. The characteristics of subtlety, boldness, masculinity, femininity,  form, function, style, irregularity, symmetry; are rooted in our sub-conscious and drive our likes and dislikes.

With the advent of the internet, relationships with potters and collectors has opened up a forum to discuss the pros and cons of pottery and again, it never ceases to amaze me how a pot one individual or group loves is almost loathed by others. I am constantly engaged in emails with people extolling the virtues of one pot or potter while vilifying another. What I have discovered is the bottom line is that subjectivity prevails and the dialogue one has with a pot, positive or negative is dictated by the experiences and preferences of that single viewer.  If objectivity ruled, everyone would like the same standards of varying fields and things would be more than a bit bland. It is this division of opinion that makes studying pottery interesting and keeps everyone from wanting the exact same thing. In the end, we all just have to agree to disagree.

"It is the difference of opinion that makes horse races."   Mark Twain (1835-1910)

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