Workshop 2013

Photography: Jan Søndergaard

Embryonic art – the new recruits – children lined up for a sack race

And one of them is heard mumbling in a slightly baffled voice: “I keep thinking it’s Tuesday”.

Packed like punches from the boxing ring just waiting to be played out in real time.

This is the kindergarten of plump, un-shapely darlings impatiently waiting for their turn to attain adult form.


The point of kneading a bread dough is to tighten up the strings of proteins that make up the gluten and these, in turn, are what gives the finished bread its structure
and texture.

The muscled shaping of an idea – and the sun flooding in through the window – and only time will tell.

The workshop has its own logic, its own order, which makes perfect sense (to us) without being all that visible.


Like a sea stack perched on a plinth of solid basalt and composed of layers upon layers of sandstone and flagstone, all lending a slab-like impression to the profile.

Geology in detachable form; a pillar of gramophone records, a column of frisbees ready to toss.

“Listen, honey, what did I say about putting CDs back in their covers? How am I supposed to find David Bowie in this mess? Well, I’m just saying!”


The sheer pleasure of whirling a lump of clay into a finely tuned piece of perfection – must be as close as you can get to what it feels like to be a spiral galaxy.

This is my turntable, the clay is my vinyl, my hands make the grooves and my fingertip is the needle – now, if I open my mouth, perhaps you’ll hear that sweet pottery music.


It may not be moonshine and it won’t catch fire and burn with an invisible flame – but this stuff is still high proof.

After that lovely surprise breakfast in bed that the children made for you, you come into the kitchen and…

And out of what looks like utter chaos comes the creation of flawlessness.


The hands that do this kind of work, capable of reproducing exactly the image conjured by the mind.

A Sufi Dervish spins and spins before my eyes until his frock stands out in the shape of a cone.

That perfection required for take-off and landing – it’s that kind of control, except you have to exercise it all the way through.

Shelf life

A bar of soap and a toothbrush – and I’m ready to meet the world.

Just a couple of bronze strings and a key for playing in Pottery major, strum a few clay chords, we’re all tuned up and in harmony.

…and a discreet profile that looks like so many you have seen before, and there’s nothing special about it, except at that very moment it stands out from the crowd as the most beautiful thing ever…



It’s not just the shaping that matters, it’s the honing and the sharpening of features – like bringing out the personality in a face.

‘And when they were alone in the bed chamber, the enchanted prince, who was in the shape of a snake, spoke to the girl and said: “Maiden, shed your skin.” But she replied: “King Lindorm, shed your skin”. So the snake had to shed a skin while the girl took off the outermost of her nine sarks. And so they continued, each shedding a skin until the girl was perfectly naked and the snake had shed all of his skins onto the floor, like curled up rings around him, and his own handsome self was revealed from
underneath them.’


Saturn is adorned with a system of dazzling rings shaped like a disk and, beyond that, a handful of eccentric centaurs orbit the planet like dishevelled asteroids shed by a once bigger planet.

Fine tuning in the corner Your hands get dry from the constantly drying clay, and you keep the stuff moist enough to shape it – and the more you moisten the drier your hands.

Like a chisel that cuts away any blemishes from the surface, leaving just the sculpted, naked face.

It’s not a living creature, so it doesn’t bleed when I take a blade to it – and yet, it seems to gradually attain a soul.


“Now, if you all breathe calmly and relax, we can go through these slow, but soothing, yoga exercises together and we’ll all feel better afterwards.”

Just from looking at their innocent faces you couldn’t tell which one of them had committed the murder, but the evidence was there on the floor – in a mess of shattered pieces.

Berries on the branches of a tree, all ripening at the same time.


Like the quills used for writing sagas in medieval times, one rainy afternoon in a turf house in Iceland – or the reed styluses that made those wedge-shaped cuneiform marks on Mesopotamian clay tablets.

Lines, grooves and curves on a stick. Weapons of mass creation.

Rolling rack

All aboard – our cruiser is ready to roll! Brace yourselves for a rickety ride!


Like spirit lines woven into a Navajo fabric.

With so many runic inscriptions we have just a name – and no way of knowing whether we are looking at the name of the owner, of the creator or of the item itself.

Just one deliberate flaw to reflect the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.

The first word she spoke was his name.

Ready for fire

As we approached the shore, I felt my hands go clammy; we all knew what was waiting for us there and I was so scared of that wall of fire. Would the battle be
ours? Would I make it through alive?

The astronauts are now in their final phase of preparation before boarding the


“Wait! I didn’t bring my bathing suit! Wait! – I said wait…!”

‘But in a sieve I’ll thither sail and, like a rat without a tail, I’ll do, I’ll do and I’ll do.’

The Dagda of Irish mythology owns a stick that kills with one end and brings to life with the other and he also possesses the magical cauldron that can bring the dead to life.


As children do, he so enjoys having the same story read over and over – and you have to do the characters’ voices and everything exactly the same each time. It’s that kind of love – what to you may seem like endless repetition is, to that child, endless joy and comfort.

The library features a fine collection of the complete works of a whole range of authors.

Colour, light and pattern on the verge of an optical illusion; is there a true image here, waiting to jump out at me?


And this is our vault that holds all of our valuables. Everything that goes in here comes out either with the added interest of durability or divested of value. That way, it’s a bit like the stock exchange.

A look into an Egyptian tomb of colourful hieroglyphs, statues and decorative items. Cave art

Caution – perishables

‘Caution is the mother of the porcelain box’

Gently does it.

Let me wrap you up gingerly and take you home.


It’s a Scandinavian thing – you go skinny dipping in the sea all through the winter; just your local beach or wherever you can access the shore for a quick jump in and out. Of course, the best place is where you can head straight into a hot sauna afterwards.

Crewed spacecraft ready for take-off.

The inner core of the planet is so hot it melts all impurities.

Seagull’s egg shells

That crunching, scraping sound of granite against granite.

He had never touched them; they were still there on the mantelpiece, just as she had left them all of those years ago.

The feeling you get when you lift it up off the ground, this serene creation there in your hand, like a creature made for you to caress.

Hand of heat

Like an archaeological excavation, gently bringing artefacts out into the light of day.

“I know I left my keys somewhere around here…”

Carefully digging into a vein of valuable ore that opens into a cave of exquisite pieces.

Three moons

The oldest brother took after his father, and so did the youngest; but the middle brother had a darker complexion and his eyes were pitch black and flashing.

Afterwards, they seemed to look at me with puzzled eyes and I realized then that I didn’t have any answers for them.

The old woman represents the past, the grown woman the present and the young girl holds the future inside of her.


The hand-washbasin and the mirror she was still to put up on the wall, but all her make-up was already scattered across the dressing table – and then that pile of songs waiting for her voice.

The mystery out looking out through someone else’s eyes.

At the end of a day’s work, and all the fingerprints and all the crumbs on the floor seem to be all that has been achieved – but that is still a creative day.


Tortoiseshell, sustainably produced.

It was only when he removed his gaze from the eye of the microscope that it dawned on him what this was.

Clusters of mushrooms throwing a party on the forest floor.


The sudden lightning of loss and that pale feeling it leaves inside you.

That slow shade of green always seemed to leave my fingertips tinkling.

…but the olive itself was on the inside and the stone was on the outside, and it had become very difficult to eat it…