42. “The Pots Are the Horses…”
Dick Francis, the noted British mystery novelist, has written a long series of wonderful books in which his heroes have a variety of jobs related to the world of horse racing. A former champion steeplechase jockey, he has been uniquely qualified to convey the singular drama and beauty of horses in an all out thunderous charge to reach the finish line first. In none of his books has he ever tried to rank the importance of the various human occupations surrounding horse racing. Stable boys, jockeys, owners, trainers, horsebox drivers, bankers, etc. are all treated with dignity and respect and curiosity. They are each noble and beautiful and ultimately insignificant when placed in comparison with the incomparable passion of steeplechase horses clearing fences to the cheers of their supporters and the subtle urgings of the jockeys. No matter what nefarious schemes are afoot, the reader knows that it is the beauty of the horses in majestic flight which is the great good to be preserved, to be exulted, to be admired.
The title of this essay is a direct quote from Jack Troy, the internationally famous ceramicist and author. The discussions at the 1999 International Woodfire Conference (held in Iowa City, Iowa) had begun to wander into some pretty heady and potentially useless directions when he brought the entire room up short with the following statement. “The pots are the horses, the critics are just the guys with the brooms.” The room loved it. At least those of us in the room who weren’t critics loved it.
Good pots are the engine of our profession. As individuals, we become process-driven, language-driven, money-driven, ego-driven, and lifestyle-driven and none of it is as important, as powerful, or as significant as the good pot (sculptural or utilitarian). What do you need to do to have a successful career in ceramics? Hundreds of things, but they all start with the making of good pots. And when your troubles come, as they are bound to, and when you doubt the enterprise, your best protector will be an admirable pot. Make it noble and beautiful and let it inspire you to persevere.
My armor is languishing in the basement, desperately needing cleaning and polishing. I haven't worn it for several years and yet this blog sticks to me. I ...
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