The Journey Restarts
Around March 2014 I got a bit of a wake up call to return to an earlier passion for making things from clay and firing them in a kiln. This is the process known as pottery which incorporates the ancient elements of ‘Earth, Water, Fire and Air’.
I had spent the best part of my life to date, working in arts administration. - And it had been wonderful.
I had been privileged to help bring learning, joy of the creative process and remarkable experiences, to hundreds of thousands of people during the last thirty three years. Then something happened, or rather a series of things including some poor judgment calls from senior management. I am now grateful for the discomfort felt at the time which as brought me to this point of creative freedom and security.
Unusual Transports and a theme of traveling things and a bit about the journey.
This is the story of where these ideas and my motivation comes from. I would like to share with you, the joy and the fun I have alone the way, as well as influences and some wisdom of others. "My uncle was a great man, he told me so himself!" Spike Milligan
Humour is essential and this lovely quote, wisely warns against the dangers of self importance. Much of my making is about entertaining you and myself. A bit like sharing a joke, a nice surprise or special gift.
We are all on journeys, whether we like it or not, whether we plan them, or let the wind blow us where it will. I acknowledge accepting, resisting, planning and drifting, on my journeys, though recently, I am moved to planning and embracing the timelines and events on the journey.
"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring willarrive where we started and know the place for the first time." - T. S. Eliot
So curiosity plays a very big part in all of this. It may have killed a cat or two, got Pandora into all sorts of trouble......
In classical Greek mythology, Pandora was the first woman on Earth. Zeus ordered Hephaestus, the god of craftsmanship, to create her, so he did, using water and earth. The gods endowed her with many gifts: Athena clothed her, Aphrodite gave her beauty, and Hermes gave her speech.
When Prometheus stole fire from heaven, Zeus took vengeance by presenting Pandora to Epimetheus, Prometheus' brother. With her, Pandora was given a beautiful container – with instructions not to open it under any circumstance. Impelled by her curiosity (given to her by the gods), Pandora opened it, and all evil contained therein escaped and spread over the earth. She hastened to close the container, but the whole contents had escaped, except for one thing that lay at the bottom – the Spirit of Hope named Elpis. Pandora, deeply saddened by what she had done, feared that she would have to face Zeus' wrath, since she had failed her duty; however, Zeus did not punish Pandora, because he had known that this would happen.
At Belfast college of art, in the late 1970s, I found my self drawn to making a number of specific objects as interestingly or as beautifully as I could. I made teapots, (though I didn't drink the stuff,) flying machines, gramophones, flying boats as well as the typical range of vessels. In happy ignorance, I just thought I found a simple joy inthese things.
My father had passed away a few years previously, after a short distressing illness. A father with victorian values and rebelling teenage son inspired by Spike Milligan and Monty Pythons Flying Circus, we didn't see much in common at that particular time.
Now I find myself tripping over him in me, with the inevitability of genetic and learnt behaviours. I reflect back with great warmth and lost opportunities but a determination to make up the relationship connections with my own sons and all my family and friends. My father loved the sea. He had gone to sea as a ships engineer in the nineteen-thirties. Sailing and engineering were a bit of a tradition in the Murchison history associated with about four hundred years living on the west coast of Scotland. The gallic interpretation of the family name means sea warrior so perhaps there are connections with Scandinavian seafarers. My great uncle, William was a captain from the days of sail and his stories are preserved in his published memoirs embarking from the family home in Loughcarron, beside the Isle of Skye, where my fathers uncle ran the smithy.
My grandfather on my fathers side survived the first world war as a fighter pilot with the Royal Flying Corps, but sadly lost his life while serving with the Royal Air Force inEgypt, 1920.
I wonder if this explains a fascination with flying machines and in particular flying boats, as if I try to connect my present to the past.
Curiously I have returned to the School of Art and the ceramics department as it hosts me for a two year business start up programme provided by Craft Northern Ireland.
The joy of being wrong!
I have enjoyed a successful life, based on being wrong about all, or most of the important things. I said I would never teach, never get married and never have children and the broken promises have brought me the greatest joy. I shiver that I might have been more determined to hold tight to erroneous assertions.
The lesson to self is: keep an open mind and combine it with a relentless curiosity to make life a continuous fascination.