Clay and ceramics are more often used as mediums to deliver different ecological problems without questioning the very use, process, and source of the material. Its relative abundance overshadows its finite nature and the damages caused by the extractive act.
Starting from the conversation with the clay on the potter’s wheel and along the making process, the research, on the one hand, explores the economic, geopolitical, philosophical, and technical aspects entangled around it. On the other, it proposes alternative ways to use less mined clay and minimise the countereffects of the extraction.
The first part of the research investigates the reclamation of clay from the river sludge from the river Maas. The marbling allows the application of the local clay body, otherwise uneasy to manage. The employment of river clay has multiple sustainability aims. A gradual harvesting method allows the riverbanks to clean and regenerate, keeps local colours, textures, and properties while promoting a refamiliarisation with regional river bodies. River clay urges to care for what goes dispersed into urban waters as clay absorbs and tracks the chemical contamination encompassing it.
The conversations between and with these two clay bodies on the potter’s wheel materialise in pots inspired by Jacoba jugs. Mirroring the nature of the two clays, they were traded from Germany, the origin of the stoneware, to the Netherlands, where the river clay comes from. Due to shipwrecks, few Jacobas still lay down in the river bed. The inspiration from the archaeologic findings determines a way to keep the historical origins of the materials in the final shape.
Since potters say that to start understanding the clay on the potter’s wheel it is needed to throw at least one hundred pots, one hundred samples of conversations were led.
Gijs Bakker Award Nominee 2021
Realised in collaboration with sunday morning EKWC, Wetering, and the Ceramic Laboratory from Leiden University of Archaeology.
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