The changing of the seasons is often a time for renewal, and sometimes even reflection. With the bite in the air, and in entirely new surroundings, 14 of us have taken to our wheels at Clay College and immediately began a process of unlearning: taking back to basics our skills and developing them from the ground up, in an undertaking both intimidating and enthralling in equal measure. Working in earthenware for the first term, we have been developing skills of slip application, working on making series of drinking vessels and jugs, if we wish.
There is a tangible sense in the air of everything changing: set within the current geopolitical and environmental climate we know things need to change. That begins with making: learning how to make well, and then developing a practice that can fit in the world two years from now – a daunting task with the various crisis facing independent makers, and indeed, us all. Perhaps it is the sudden cold that brings this shine to the beginning of college life for me, but I can’t help but think it would be naïve to undertake something like this without keeping in your mind the bigger picture, the reality of what being a potter in the modern world will be. Yet I also feel a very deep sense of optimism. The course tutors, staff, and especially the students here are a deeply inspiring group; with the nous and sensitivity to be a positive force for meaningful change in the future.
Much will change over the next two years. Our work is going to develop at pace, and I am sure when the graduation show flings round we will be in a very different world. I hope that the many who support the college and take an interest in independent making enjoy following with interest our progress over this formative period, and I hope that the 14 of us can embody the spirit in which the college was founded and be a positive force in the potting world in the future.