Friday, April 3, 2009

Quite a long post.

Strange Fragments is one of my favorite blogs. It belongs to QLD ceramicist Shannon Garson and she has a beautiful and accessible way of expressing herself, lovely work (like the bowls pictured) and her motivation to blog is admirable.

In a recent post Shannon discussed her reasons for blogging which included the following:

I find there is often a reluctance to engage in discussion about the arts bureaucracy, competitions, others people's work, govt funding etc and really believe that a lively community full of discussion and disagreement makes us all stronger. Many potters feel that if they "criticize" something they are damaging our chances as a community of getting more funding or, being negative. I think the insidious pressure not to speak about our own art, our own jobs and our own lives is way more damaging.

The chorus of comments from fellow ceramicists suggests this is a view shared widely and there is a general desire to encourage the ceramic community to be more vocal. And I agree! Discussions, disagreements and dissent can lead to, at best, analysis, learning and positive developments.

Here's my problem:
Drummed into me as a child was this motto...
"If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all."

Where exactly this came from, Mum, Dad, Nanna, Sunday School, I don't know, but boy is it ingrained! I do realise, of course, that there is all sorts of things wrong with this maxim and if everyone lived by it quite possibly ( a very quiet) chaos would reign. But part of me can't let it go.

So when it comes to 'criticism', of an artists work, a craft institution, a ceramic exhibition or competition, I first question the reasoning behind making my point of view public. If my opinion is sort than I will honestly give it or if I feel some benefit will come with speaking up then I will most certainly express my displeasure. But if I just don't like something then the old adage reverberates in my mind and, as they say 'I keep mum'.

If I like something, however, that's a whole different story! That's when it's hard to shut me up. And in this sense, I guess, my silence can be a form of criticism.

I'm not quite sure why I blog. I enjoy the sharing of information, the recording of flights of fancy and, like Shannon, I think it's important for "people to have a greater insight into the artistic process." And personally I like the challenge of improving my ability for critical debate.

And I also enjoy singing the praises of the art and artists I really, really like and letting those who care to listen know just how wonderful ceramics can be. I think a lot can be learned from criticism and I also think a great deal can be achieved from drawing attention to and discussing the things that work.

1 comment:

andrew widdis said...

One particular (possibly drunken) criticism keeps me honest when I throw.