Many people ask me for my opinion of the TV programme, 'The Great Pottery Throwdown'.
I have to admit that I am a great admirer of the show and the people who appear on it. Of course, having been a professional potter for the past 30 years, I am always attracted to anything associated with my great love in life: ceramics.
Why does it capture the imagination of the public so powerfully, you might ask? Well, in my opinion, we are all hostage to technology for so much of our lives now that a show that concentrates the mind on physicality whether that is making pots or baking mouth-watering extravaganzas is a great reminder to us all that there is more to life than the computer. Having said that, I love the many advantages that we can enjoy being connected electronically. My own business benefits hugely from the fact that I can market my pots globally and get sales from the other side of the world from a mere post on social media. However, as human beings I feel we have a deep- seated yearning to be connected to form and manipulating gadgets and being creative is good for us, indeed highly therapeutic. Even just watching others on TV do so is a calming pastime. How many people have become addicted to the amazing range of repairs carried out on the ‘Repair Shop’ show?
Clay pot making allows makers to learn so many techniques including throwing at the wheel, hand-sculpted pots and coil pots, to name a few, which makes it totally engaging and enthralling.
Another benefit of throwing, as many viewers agree, is that it is impossible to check your emails, write posts, scroll through your feed or even accept a phone call when you are up to your elbows in clay. If ‘living in the present moment’ is a phrase that is hard to live up to a lot of the time, it certainly becomes possible when you are in the grip of the drama of making a pot. The potters on the show all have just one focus: precision.
It is also refreshing to ponder the fact that even in the 21st century clay drying and clay firing takes time. There is no instant gratification in the world of pottery. The time it takes these processes to come to fruition is as long as it always has been for thousands of years.