Research Photography: Explore; Public Kiln & Shengli Porcelain Factory
Research Photography: Explore; Bottle Factory
In December I participated in a Crafting Futures residency in Jingdezhen China, organised by The British Council to research the cities intangible craft heritage and create an intercultural exchange between east and west. During my time in China I curated a collaborative project, working with a group of young local artists, focusing on material experimentation and sustainable materiality, inspired by the city's ancient porcelain history. During a week-long workshop, we collaboratively made a series of 66 new ceramic glazes. Made of locally sourced organic matter, foraged minerals and waste from industrial ceramic manufacture. The glazes were fired at a local public kiln; a huge family run, gas fired kiln a stones throw from our studio. Each experiment held a local identity, making the collaboration as a whole unique to Jingdezhen. I wanted to investigate the value of cooperation at the very beginning of a project but also create a social environment, so that I could learn about ceramics, the city, its history and culture, through people who called it home.
My travels to China have been invaluable for defining and inspiring my practice. I returned with a new archive of making skills and a refined perception upon craft philosophy defined by the Eastern culture I had been immersed in. I have always been drawn to craft because of the intangible relationship between maker and material and the value in that connection. Visiting Jingdezhen was no different, but I found the Chinese ideals and culture enhanced it. Making ceramics was like a spiritual romanticism; anchored in ancient history and community, the local practices constantly reflected on the past as a way of preserving and honouring the country's ceramic legacy. Moreover I admired the philosophy the city's material culture brought into everyday life. I feel that there is much to learn from the east that has been lost in western craft practices. I felt humbled by the affinity and agency found in their devotion to ceramics.