I’ve been running ceramic workshops alongside Kathrin Bohm‘s Contraptions exhibition at Peckham Platform. We’ve been spinning colour onto bought china plates using a whirler contraption. The results were great – I was amazed how really small children and distractable teenagers all really loved the process and settled into doing it – even if some were whirling and using their mobiles at the same time! The way the paint works, and the contraints of the whirler, seemed to release their creativity. It reminded me of Tim Gallwey‘s Inner Game principles: distract people from judging themselves and they perform better.
The contraption ideas were developed by Kathrin with a local mental health group. They are going to spin-paint some white porcelain beakers I’ve made, as a special edition to sell to fundraise for Peckham Platform. I can’t wait to see them – do go see the show and buy one! By the way – if you want a go at china painting, see We Make Here – Claire taught me all I know about it!
Shooting the breeze at the Swatch store in Victoria, while waiting for my train to Peckham, I wondered whether we in contemporary craft could learn from the Swatch phenomenon. We makers are going against the grain of consumer capitalism – we can’t scale up, we can’t really automate, we can’t diversify. A bit like the Watch craftsmen of Switzerland, where 65,000 jobs were lost as cheaper – but great time-keeping – quartz watches flooded in from the Far East.
I first came across Swatch through a production engineering paper describing their really creative manufacturing processes – but have also bought many since because I liked the way they looked, worked, and were affordable.
They are still innovating technology – there’s a new touchscreen watch – but the way they collaborate creatively with artists and across genres, make site-specific and event-specific watches is admirable. Their ambition initially was to be the ‘second watch’ – the first being a Tissot or an Omega: but for many, like me, they have become the first, second, third and fourth. I think I am on my tenth – the last dying after its second trip through the washing machine and its fourth strap.
Studio Pottery is like the Omega watch: collectible, one-off, full of mystique. The issues in UK craft are different than those in Swiss watches: we need organisational innovation as much as technical or commercial ones. But to survive, maybe the next wave of craft could be more like the Swatch?