Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Tall Silent Type
In the dim dark distant days when I was teaching evening classes to help make ends meet when I was a painter, I prowled up and down behind the students who were hard at work at their easels and tried to help them as best I could.
Laura occasionally modeled for me if there was a portrait class, and sometimes, after the class was over, she would say that she could tell when someone was doing really badly, as I would become rather quiet. I admit that I did struggle with what to say. I did not mind a bit if a person was trying hard, and doing their best, and I would move heaven and earth if I could to help them, but it was difficult to find a balance between pointing out where things were disastrously wrong and offering enough hope to encourage them forward to make things better. What you could say varied from person to person. I did care about people that I taught, mostly anyway, and there was always so much I had to learn myself to make me a better teacher.
Teaching can be a very tough thing to do, and some cope with it better than others, I know that there are retired teachers who still suffer from occasional nightmares where the stresses of the classroom still come back to bite them.
One benefit of the the teaching that I did was that I have become better at learning. I found this of great help when I started potting about 7 years ago. In a painting or drawing class, the teacher often has a great advantage over the student, in that they are walking round the class and viewing the pupil's work from a distance. I always encouraged my students to take a pace or two back from their work and it usually helped them a great deal when they actually followed that simple advice. In my potting I have learnt the value of "stepping back a little" to try to understand what is really going on. Sometimes this may actually be a physical step back from the work, other times it might be a mental step. A pause. A time to ask "Why?", or "How?".
Laura's comment to me about my becoming quiet, was instructive, and I did my best to improve in that area. With me though, when there is silence, there is usually trouble!
I have not posted on my blog for about a month, and..., well..., um.... silence! Maybe silence has been the best thing really. Some of the time has been difficult and depressing; however, not all was bad, in fact some things were very good indeed. We had an enjoyable couple of days in Christchurch recently, getting together with Laura's parents, her brother and sister in law. There was a special occasion that brought us all together...Laura had a birthday to celebrate, and it was lovely that her parents were able to travel down from the North Island as far as Christchurch.
Christchurch has changed a lot from how it was when I visited just over a year ago. Whilst some areas are largely intact, many buildings have been demolished after the series of earth quakes, and there is plenty of evidence around of buildings with temporary repairs, and lots of work in progress. Churches seemed to be some of the buildings most seriously damaged, but that may have been simply because they were some of the more visible buildings. Many of the churches were old stone structures, with towers, stained glass windows, and so on. It was really all to do with structures, physical structures with physical laws. You shake some things, or drop some things, and they break. That is how things are.
There has been a bit of a scramble to demolish old brick buildings and to label them unsafe, in truth some of them are. Like a plague, this scramble has started to spread further afield than Christchurch, and some buildings in other towns, such as Court Houses and School halls have abruptly been closed, apparently with little thought given as to how the Court or School was supposed to continue its work.
It should be remembered that the greatest loss of life was in the 25 year old 6 story CTV building, and in the 48 year old 5 story Pyne Gould building. The 15 floor Hotel Grand Chancellor, built between 1985 and 1988, developed an alarming lean and seemed on the point of collapse, threatening I think about 400 businesses in the immediate area. This building is currently being demolished. The 17 or 18 (it varies in the articles that I have read!!) story high Forsyth Barr building had a stairway collapse, trapping many people on upper floors. From an engineering point of view there should be interesting lessons to be learnt, and I hope that they have been.
There are some people that call for Christchurch Cathedral to be restored stone by stone. I hope that a far more modest wooden building is made, and a little memorial park. It would be nice to think of the heart of a City, where people of many faiths, or non at all, could feel welcome to sit together in peace.
The bus station where we caught our bus home had been made out of a shipping container, in which was a small counter with two staff behind it, and the rest of the container was packed with people and their luggage keeping out of the rain whilst they waited for the bus to arrive.
I am doing some large pots at the moment, as big as I can fit into my electric kiln. If I make them a nudge over 2 feet tall, they just fit in after they have dried due to the shrinkage of the clay.
I would love a much larger electric kiln!
If you have got this far through this post on my blog you will have noticed several photos of tops of pots. I have been fascinated with tops of pots for quite some time. How this part is finished determines a lot of the character of the pot. Does it lift upwards optimistically? Is the top closed in protectively? Does it make you think of a hat, a neck, a pipe or part of a machine? Does it make the pot look like a flower opening in the sun?
I have recently had a little operation on my ears to make it possible to do some air travel, some of you may remember that I had to abandon a trip to the USA just over a year ago due to both my ears suffering an internal hemorrhage on my flight from Dunedin to Auckland. The operation is really only a temporary fix and there have been a few set backs health wise after the operation, but I think we are getting on top of things now, which is in part why I feel like writing again! It would be so nice to be able to jump on a plane and just be able to fly up to Auckland again and see friends and galleries there, and ... of course I would love to be arrange things to actually manage a trip overseas, it was very sad to have missed out on America last year. We will take a careful step at a time, and see how we go.
As usual Christmas has caught us out, and no cards sent anywhere as yet. It is hardwired into me somewhere that Christmas should be in the middle of winter, the summer Christmas season leave me bewildered! I have got some tomatoes planted though!