Monthly Artist Feature (June 2020) – Lorrie King

Artist’s Name: Lorrie King

Artist’s Age:  63

Artform: Pottery

Why do you do what you do? When did you realize a passion for what you do?

I began making pottery as a hobby when I realised that I was involved in relationships that occupied most of my free time. Making pottery became a way to claim back some of my own time, to be selfish and have something that only belonged to me. I became passionate about working with clay very quickly. It has always been therapeutic and magical to me to watch a lump of clay transform into a useful object. 

What is your educational background?

I have my Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a Masters in Education. I am a retired high school teacher. 

What are some of the challenges that you have faced while trying to pursue your passion?

Some challenges that I face are: marketing my work, getting it “out there” and helping people understand that ceramic art should be a necessity in life, not a luxury. Also, a challenge is that there is a stigma around the idea of hobbyist. I do not depend on selling my work as a source of income but as a result, I am taken less seriously.

Have you encountered people who have been skeptical about your dreams?

Yes … skepticism abounds. Often people chose to me don’t understand how time consuming and energy consuming this sort of work is. They also don’t understand how expensive it is and why would I do it if it costs so much? There also seems to be a lack of awareness about the infinite scope for knowledge and learning in ceramics. I often get comments like, “Don’t you know everything by now? Why do you keep taking courses?”

How did you initially react to those people and how do you act towards them now?

I guess I can be a bit defensive with these skeptics but now I just roll with it. I try to explain as much as possible, without being too didactic, because I feel that it is our responsibility to educate the public about what we do so that there can be greater appreciation about the value of handcrafted art and wares. 

What are some of the fears that you face even today?

I fear my declining memory and my ability to remember information. 

How do you deal with those fears?

How to deal with it? I’m not sure … eat more blueberries, I guess. 

How do you work? What is the method to your ‘madness’ and how do you filter your creativity?

I’m not sure that I can answer this but I feel that making pots is a skill that I’ve worked on for many years. I have no innate artistic talent. I am not naturally creative, bursting with imaginative, original ideas. But I can make pots reasonably well because it has become an ingrained skill that I’ve developed over time. Much like cooking or driving a car.

What role do you believe “the artist” has in society? / How do you feel your art form has the power to benefit society?

The term “artist” seems to be applied loosely these days. People call themselves artists yet I’m not sure how they arrived at this assignation. 

I cannot call myself “chef”, although I have cooked some pretty amazing meals and developed some very tantalizing recipes. 

The role of artist in society should be revered and respected. So, I think that the term “artist” should be conferred upon a person by others ; for example by awards, education achieved, etc. I prefer to consider myself a “maker.” Pottery or ceramic art has the power to benefit society in that it allows a tactile, 3 dimensional piece to express the maker’s skill and creativity. 

Out of all your work, which piece resonates the most with you?

The work I do with Raku gives me the most pleasure because I am tied to an object’s function and usefulness. I can unleash what little creativity I have and let the fire and smoke do the rest.

By what terms do you measure success or perfection? When do you feel like you can say that your work is finished and ready to be experienced by others?

I measure success (never perfection) when someone tells me that they usee my bowl (or mug or plate …) every day and they still love it as much as when they first bought it. This is the highest compliment for me. I feel that I’ve put something good out into the world. 

What elements of your career bring you the most stress?

I don’t feel a lot of stress but I guess the aspects of clay making that can be stressful are when I rely on equipment or techniques that fail me. Also, the reliance on technology seems to be becoming dominant and I find it stressful that I’m being forced to live in a world not of my choosing. 

Where do you see yourself going?

I am not going anywhere!! I will continue with my studio practice and will keep on making pots until I no longer can.

“I measure success (never perfection) when someone tells me that they use my bowl (or mug or plate…) everyday and they still love it as much as when they first bought it. This is the highest compliment for me. I feel that I’ve put something good out into the world.”

~ Lorrie King