Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Fired Up

The department stores have suddenly become enamoured of the handmade look in ceramics. Sainsbury’s (advert, left) has a range of Sung-type bottles in pale celadon green, a candle-holder in the shape of a pebble and an oval shaped dish that might possibly pass for studio pottery. Meanwhile the Conran shop have a cup and saucer in speckled creamy-white and black (below) that definitely takes on the ‘craft’ mantle, on offer at £19. Quite what all this means I am not sure, but where there is a market there is a supplier. Large companies are adept at appropriating ideas and goods, but need to produce it at department store prices. Studio potters cannot hope to compete quality with quantity – nor should they. What we have to do is to forcefully argue our case for products that are superior in every way.


angihatspots said...

Hi!! Your post has highlighted an issue about contemporary studio ceramics being undercut by very cheap ceramic imports from the developing economies of the world, sold in cut price shops such as Matalan, T K Max, and the supermarkets. Firstly, designs are largely ripped off from western studio ceramics as they are being made for largely western markets. Secondly they are the same as the rag trade, made in sweat shops, With all the division of labour described in a post below. The workers probably earn a dollar a day and would now with food prices having risen, can no longer afford to eat. Thus these imports are made with suffering of our fellow humans. Cheap ceramic imports have either airmiles or container miles. Wedgewood as a company has not survived - even the Brish Ceramic companies can not compete against these imports. Its not necessarily market economics that is at fault but capitalism has the inbuilt tendency to accrue and build capial in times like these and it is always the poor who suffer most. However, a point I like to make is that, a Winchcombe Teapot, made in Gloucestershire, is competetive in terms of price with the porcelain teapots made in the developping countries, and there are no airmiles on it!!!!!! Its what I might ask for for next Christmas!!!!! These were always issues I stuggled with doing a degree in Ceramics - graduated 2006.What was the point in competing in a market of this type? But many of us studio potters have our own market-Crafts Council Report into the Contemporary Craft in the UK.

shannon said...

The "aping" of the handmade by industrial producers can only find success in a world with very low craft literacy. I think potters and artists should pursue a vocal and aggressive campaign of pointing out the differences between the industrially produced and the handmade. Potters can be an insular lot, I really believe that if you are capable of speaking out you should take every opportunity possible to do so, from local meetings at childrens schools to wider ranging forums such as mainstream media, newspapers, radio and magazines. If we want our profession to have a future we have to engage with the public and fight (in our own whimsical and handmade way!) against the perception that industrially made products are just the same as handmade ones.

Really love the blog!