Sunday, August 8, 2010
It is good to be reminded of what gives us joy. This reminder is found in a place of stillness. In quietness. It is about who we are, what makes us laugh, and what moves us to tears. We so easily miss this place of reminder when worry, noise, and daily living crowd in.
C. S. Lewis wrote a book called "Surprised by Joy". I have always loved the title of this book, although it is now such a long time since I last read it, that I really can't remember what went on between its covers!
There is something surprising about joy, and joy runs much deeper than happiness. Joy works somewhere in our middles, in our sinews and fibres! When I think of joy, I think of a child running down a garden path. The arms are out wide, a smile lights the face and eyes, and the child is making an AAAhhhggAAhhUgggh sound that is an expression of undiluted delight. The sound wobbles with each clumsy foot fall (the child has not really mastered running as yet), but the child is running towards someone that it loves and trusts absolutely, so there is no fear of falling! I think joy is harder to find as an adult, which makes it even more important to be reminded of it at the very least!
Several months ago (in summer...) I had a delightful day out making pots in a beautiful garden.
This Waikouaiti garden is the work of Gwen and Les Pullar. The garden is open to the public at times through the year, and to groups by appointment. Someone had arranged a tour of several local gardens, and the idea was that local artists and crafts people could be discovered working in them.
I suppose we were the equivalent of the lions and tigers in a Safari park, to be admired, but to be approached with care!
I was lucky to have a summer house to growl and prowl in, as the day started with a distinct chill to the air and a hint of rain. Probably due to the inclement nature of the day, people were slow arriving. I set up my Leach Style Kick wheel (a gift from a potter friend). I discovered that the little octagonal summer house made a nice studio, the wheel sat very comfortably in the center, and there was plenty of space around me to put out my bags of clay, bucket of water, and wooden boards to put new pots on. I was out of practice at the start of the day, but I got into a rhythm, and the pots began to accumulate steadily, and with increasing ease.
Few people visited the garden in the morning, but visitors built up from about lunch time onwards. I enjoyed talking to people about what I was doing, and I did some rapid slip decoration on many of the pots whilst they were still on the wheel. Most people really seemed to enjoy the transformation of the clay to pot, and then pot to pot with decoration, and the hardy ones actually stayed to see more than one pot made and finished!
I did not sell any pots that day, people really just came to look at the gardens, and to buy a few plants, but the day does stay with me as one that was special.
Last Friday I had a visit from a lovely couple, Rhonda and Mark. Rhonda, it turned out, had taken several photos of me at work that day, and she gave me copies of them. That is where this "Surprised by Joy" theme comes in... the photos remind me of what I really like to do. I like to make simple, honest pots. I like to explore form and make something that looks like a person has made it. I enjoy the feel of the clay and the mystery of it. Clay is an ancient material, and it is worth treating with respect. I was peaceful and happy that day in the garden and, whilst I had the aches of an adult, and the weariness, there was something of the child still there with arms held wide, and the open trusting smile.
The photos of the Pullar's Garden and Me potting are by Rhonda. Rhonda makes beautiful clothing out of second hand clothing and material, she also does stained glass and mosaic work. Her partner, Mark, does lovely stained glass, cabinet making, and "finishing" work. He has fitted out several house buses.