Potters work hard. As Bunty’s sister used to say, either you are breaking the ice on top of a bucket of glaze, or if you live in the Caribbean, tearing out your hair while you try to dry pots out while the rain pours down outside your workshop day after day. We choose this profession because it IS a real job and we get used to the challenges, in fact we WELCOME the challenges and the discoveries that come from the process of working with clay, fire and earth elements that go together to make glaze.
So imagine the thrill when Trini potters are invited, along with more than a hundred other potters from all over the Caribbean, sub Saharan Africa and Europe to take part in the 8th Biennale de la Ceramique in Andenne, Belgium, hosted by Alderman M. Yves Soree and Pascal Leonard of Artecerame. The festival ran for 10 days. There were lectures by the University of Brussels on the pottery of antiquity, workshops where potters could share techniques, displays of traditional hand made pottery by the women of Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Senegal and Benin. European potters showed their work in the marketplace and Denmark showed a superb collection of ceramics from some of their finest artists, ceramics that would be put into production in an industrial context.
It was all about cultural exchange and understanding how we use clay in whatever form it is available to us, using the techniques at our disposal in the place where we live. Clay is one of the most useful of materials, endlessly accommodating, allowing us to leave our mark in it for all time. Thank you to the Alderman and the people of the town of Andenne for allowing us to experience “un voyage autour de la terre” – a journey around the world!