Writing really does matter to me

I loved my time on the “Writing Matters” workshops that were provided by MIRIAD for researchers. There are some really skilled writers with distinct voices in the group. It has made me want to write more but not in a stiff academic way, but in a more human flowing voice. Talking to other members of the group about my writing and my research revealed to me that what I was actually interested in my work is actually communication. I had never thought about it this way but all my research and thinking seems to point towards looking at different ways I can communicate.

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Even some of my ceramics work in the last year has been around communication and the difficulties of adding highly textured home-made chunky grog to my clays. This adds a layer of communicating difficulties for my fingers into the mix, but also means the grog can tear through the surface of the clay.

These ideas of struggling with combining my practice and writing reminded me of a conversation I had at the International Ceramics Festival in 2013 about why my ceramics didn’t say anything about me. It is something I have puzzled about since, how do I make ceramic work speak about the message of struggling with communication issues, and being lost in my own head as I can’t speak to those around me.

It was only when I was at the North West Craft Network “Making it: Building your craft future” in March of this year that something dawned on me. I was in the middle of a conversation about a bowl I had made and how I was fascinated with the imperfect and trying not to strive for technical perfection. I thank the people I was talking to for their time and dashed off the idea developing in my mind.

Polished clay

a test piece from the second second year of my undergrad degree

I selected a dozen pieces from across my nine years of working in ceramics, though most were from the last six years. I decided on a format giving every piece a number, a name, the year it was made, size, technical data and a story. I considered it my personal archive, each piece had its own hidden story that none else but myself could see and I wanted to share it. I went into the writing matters group not knowing what reaction to expect, each piece wrapped in bubble wrap not just for its own protection but for mine too. I felt like I didn’t want anyone to see what I considered some of the worst of my work.

The reaction was overwhelming both for me and the members of the group that were there. I suddenly felt like I might have come across something that I could use to explain myself and everything that was going on in my mind telling my story through these objects. I have so many ideas of where I want to take the project now. For a start I want to digitize examples from the project as a teaching resource. I also want to share the project with other groups and see what they say, and expand it in other ways too.

Bowls for Fleetwood

Sgraffito Bowls, the last work I made before closing Red Fox pottery in 2012

I also do think it is so useful to share old work so people can see the development, and just the ideas behind a piece. As well as the Lending Library I want to announce that I am working on creating both an analogue and a digital ceramics learning library.  I can’t wait to see what happens, watch this space.

About Joseph Travis

Maker of ceramic objects, Ceramic Researcher and full time dad to two boys
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One Response to Writing really does matter to me

  1. Pingback: Still Looking Backwards | Red Fox Pottery

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