Sensuality and Sustainability: a co-existence?

Sensuality and Sustainability: a co-existence?

Abstract of the paper presented at International Ceramics Symposium. Ceramic Arts and Design for a Sustainable Society. Gothenburg, Sweden. 2011


Objects made from clay have the potential to last a very long time. From the ancient Greek urns to Ming vases great value has been placed on certain objects that tell a story of a particular culture. Jack Troy writes that for those of us who work in clay, it means literally changing the planet one handful at a time. Symposiums such as this have the opportunity to act as a think tank, questioning notions of sustainability in a field that uses natural resources. As a practitioner and an educator my interest is centred on the purpose and value placed on the objects that we make. I have visited China and witnessed how ceramics is mass-produced there at low cost because there is a large domestic and international market, the materials are abundant and the labour is cheap. I am even more aware now of questioning my students and myself to value creativity and to expand our understanding of tradition and materials. The sensuality of clay and the leaving of a lasting impression through the hand of the maker creates a very real connection to the earth. Artists and designers today seek to remedy the disconnection that we have from nature and question modern western society’s uncontrolled consumption of the planets resources.. Sustainability is not just about the 21st century, the survival of clay objects is testament to clay’s ability to endure. Perhaps it is not just sustainability of the material and processes that is being discussed here, but the ability of the product to sustain. Globalisation gives us mass production, but it is humans who have attention to detail and create an individual uniqueness.


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