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Gallerie de Poterie

November 2, 2018

I am in Merville-Franceville-Plage for a week visiting a friend. Locals refer to the village as just "Franceville" but it's name was originated because Merville and Franceville used to be independent from each other. It is located in northern France, along the coast. During the second world war, the battle of Merville Gun Battery (part of the Normandy landings) occurred here, and you can see remains from bunkers along the beach.

We visited an art gallery not far from where my friend lives called "La Poterie Du Mesnil De Bavent." They had work from quite a few artists on exhibition, and I was happy to bring one piece that had been fired in a wood kiln back with me.

It was difficult to visit the exhibition and not be able to talk to the individual artists of each piece directly. So much about the artist can be summed up in the art they create. Not being able to hear about the techniques and visions behind what I saw made it feel a like I was missing out on the story when walking out.

I think I have unintentionally associated pottery as being a very personal craft. Like any other form of art, the artist pours them self into their creation and then is willing to share it with the world, being aware of the fact that their work could outlive their lifetime. It takes confidence to accept this realization and to be willing to put the work out there even so. 

Maybe this is why my tendency is to pick up a pot and flip it over when I know it is made by hand. Maybe it is all in search for a connection; any connection - someway for me to know just a little about the artist, whether it is in the makers mark carved into the clay or a small indent from where their finger may have been.

Being in this setting, where I was the observer rather than the maker, caused me to see even more beauty in the imperfection than I'm not sure I've ever seen before. I was not fluent in french like everyone around me was, so as a result I could not converse and instead was just there to look. The most surprising thing to me as I think back now are the things I was drawn to most. In the process of looking pieces over, it was not the perfection that caught my eye but rather what proved to me the piece was made by hand. 

When people pick up my work and turn it around, searching it over, I often will feel uneasy wondering what sort of imperfections they are seeing and judging me for. Maybe this isn't the case, though, and maybe there is something to be learned here for everyone. Maybe rather than trying to spot perfection, we are all just naturally on the search for imperfection which is made perfect because of the story. 

The little white mug I purchased has the smallest little mark on the lip of the cup and every time I drink out of it I will be reminded to value my own work a little higher. 

A peak into the studio

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Workshop at the SVR vault

Ceramics vs. Pottery

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