Yes, it’s been an age since I have posted a blog on my lovely Crappy Kitchen site, but now that I have a brand new computer, have finished my traveling adventures (for now at least), and the kids have begun an adventure of their own (“Real” bricks & mortar school for the first time. Up to now they have been home-schooled), I am itching to get up and running again. What better way to get started than to write about a piece of ceramics that has been my constant companion for the past 15 years or so.
This jug, as I call it, holds 1 bottle of wine perfectly, albeit to the brim! Taking it down from the shelf signifies the end of work and the beginning of dinner preparations, which is playtime for me. I am a woman of rituals and believe that if everything you do is accompanied by even a modicum of bravado, the thing that you do feels special. For the most part, there is no way to avoid daily routine and the mere fact that it is a routine can make life a little predictable and boring.
I am lucky enough to live a life where I get to do what I love on a daily basis. I have lived and worked as an artist for the past 20 years with the result that the majority of my friends are either artists or lovers of art. It is a small but perfect little world. The writer Joseph Brodsky said that seeing is the only sense that looks outward, away from yourself, and when the eye rests, it rests on beauty. You can test his theory, and will find him right every time, whether your eye chooses something animate or inanimate.
Therefore, the inanimate objects in my house tend to be things that will please my eye. When my world becomes prettier, it becomes more tolerable, to the point of taking pleasure in the simplest things, right down to the cup I choose to drink my coffee from in the morning. The routine and mundane are now some of the best parts of my day, none more than the moment each evening when I get to fill this pitcher with red wine.
Every time I use it I am reminded of the maker, my friend Shawn Ireland. I met him nearly 20 years ago at a place that was instrumental in changing the course of my life; Penland School of Craft. This dynamic community of artists is situated in western North Carolina in the United States and is where I took a two-week metal workshop in 1993, and have been connected to the place ever since.
Shawn is an amazing wood-fired potter and an equally amazing painter, and years ago I bought this jug from him when he was just getting started and had no idea how to price his work. I remember asking him how much it was and him responding “$3”. Really, $3, was he serious? He suffered from the problem all of us artists suffer from: always undervaluing their work and worth. He has gotten better, but his pottery and paintings are still humbly priced (lucky for me)
Another Shawn Ireland treasure
Since then, the Shawn Ireland collection of ceramics in our house has grown exponentially, but my little wine jug is still the object that my eye rests on when I am looking outward.