When my brother and I were little, we spent a lot of time – years, really, if you were to really total it up – playing with sand and water. Sand was in the sandbox and also at the shore of the nearby lake, under the bigger stones, as though hiding from the waves – water was in the squirt gun, the garden hose, the moat around the buildings in the sandbox, and water was what leveled the horizon, when you stood at the edge of the lake and looked across. Water and sand were everywhere – the prodigious, almost infinite, nature of the materials constituting our little world was something I took for granted. Or, not took for granted – I saw it and liked it. Sand and water – the plentitude and power of these natural forces that create form, and then erase it – that worked for me. Sometimes I joke, when people ask about how I got started as a potter, that it was during these formative years in the sandbox that my work began – really it’s kind of true, though.
So I was interested last week to read the article David Owen wrote called The End of Sand and, taking a little twenty-minute walk at the end of the studio day, I brought my phone along & snapped a few pictures – I made a brief sand and gravel journal. The pictures show these elements as they appear within a quarter-mile of my place – the captions beneath each photo are quotes from the article.
I know, this article is really about how these elements – sand and water – are disappearing. Still though I will keep thinking about them as I always have – symbolically, at least, as the foundation of a potter’s inspiration. When you just walk around and look at the sand and gravel that is there, wherever you are – it still feels prodigious. Imagination – inspiration – these of course are any artist’s raw materials and as long as they remain infinite – they are, aren’t they? – one continues working. It hasn’t been really that far of a move, from the sand box and the lake shore to the clay studio.