Bill Van Gilder()
I make useful pottery with the hope and anticipation that these pots will invite use and engage their user in a visceral way. I want my pottery to alert the senses, waking emotions not normally associated with utilitarian objects – providing visual interest, and a heightening of tactile sensibilities – while experiencing pleasure through use.
I am interested in the way a pot tells its story. A beautifully proportioned cup, for example, sitting on the dining table, can contradict and diminish the impersonal lives we tend to live during the brief yet intimate moment when the user’s hand holds the cup and their lips connect to its rim.
By using a slow momentum kick wheel, soft clays and a wood fueled kiln, I pursue the casual nuance of form and surface I admire so much in some historical pots.
I work by making multiples of similar pots and within each series there is discovery – pushing the envelope through form and gesture, surface and detail. It’s the questions that arise during the making process that drive me throughout the day; “What will happen if I add this to the clay body? Will this type of wood fuel change the surface or colour of clay?” Curiosity is paramount.
As a wood-firing potter I can only set-up parameters – from the choice of clays and materials to the making and finishing – allowing the powerful nature of the flame to complete the process. Each kiln load of pots is part of the discovery.
My best work seems to make itself, when the acquired knowledge of material and fire, intuition borne of experience, is allowed to take over; that is, a perfect collaboration of material, fire and a healthy emotional stance on that particular day.
The process is complete when the pot is held in the hand, connecting the maker to the user, linking intent to process – a subtle form of communication and enough reason for me to make pots again.