Thursday, August 22, 2013

Fountain Head

This isn't actually part of the construction process, though I do consider landscaping to be an essential element to all building structures.
After I finished graduate school, I spent most of the summer in Biot, France, working at a pottery that had been producing classical olive jars since the early 1900's. They were very open about their process, which dated back to the time of the Roman occupation of their village (I was told by another passenger at the airport who saw the stamp on my pot that Biot translates to 2 8's which refers to the original 16  inhabitants of the village when the Roman occupation took place. )

My time there was extraodinary! I would hike down the hill at 6 am from my host's house. From their homestead, I could see the French Alps to the north and the mediterranean sea to the south.   After a day's work, I would often hike down to the beach and listen to the waves of the " mer   Mediteranee"lap against the rocks. While the Pottery often took on students to teach them their unique process, my skill level actually allowed me to contribute to their production line. In short, I produced more than they would have charged a normal student, so my "fee" was waived.  I worked primarily with Alberto, a man from Portugal who had no prior pottery experience. The beauty of the technique was that it allowed workers unskilled in pottery to create these large, beautiful Jarres de Biot. Alberto and I,  though not sharing a common language, were able to communicate through the motions and gestures brought about by a mutual understanding of working with clay. As I said, it was a remarkable experience. In gratitude, I gave them a climbing rose bush to thank them for my time there. They then offered me the choice of  any pot I wanted. The result was this beautiful vessel. I  had made similar ones during my time there, so I wanted a rememberance of what I was taught to create. It stands approximately 3 feet tall and has a golden lead glaze on the it's outer surface. It was given to me the day before I flew out of France so I didn't have time to check it with the airlines.  Fortunately, the flight crew of each leg of my journey stowed it in whatever nook or cranny they could find. I shudder to think what the result would have been post 9/11. I am eternally grateful that the airlines helped me to transport this treasure home.  I recently turned it into a fountain to bring the wonderful sounds of falling water on our environment. With the completion of the studio, I hope to ressrurect the process and tradition they taught me so many years ago. Thank you to the potters of Auge' Laribe Potterie in Biot, France and to my great friends, Marco and Deborah Brothier. Without their assistance, this never would have been possible for me!
Thank you!