I finished a lovely book, "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" several weeks ago, just as I was reading a book by Bernard Leach entitled "The Potter's Challenge". The first book was written recently and is a work of fiction and the Leach book was published in 1951.
My favorite moments of the "Hedgehog" were the lines of the characters that spoke about moments of stillness of spirit and beauty and contemplation. In fact, a conversation between two of the characters was about why a Dutch Master's painting was so engaging to the viewer. It got me to thinking about why I love the artwork and music that I do. What threads run through the different mediums that work their magic on the viewer?
Then Mr. Leach managed to shed some light on it for me. In talking about how as a modern creator/artist/artisan (whatever title you are comfortable with) he says,
"We have to learn to put the thinking apparatus, our intellectual box of tricks into proper relationship with the intuitive parts of our mind. When they are properly related to each other we can still live in a world of thusness, or let us say, wholeness."
So those interactions with beauty, art or music, which sometimes stop me like the singing tone of crystal or porcelain in the still air and resonate through me are those moments of wholeness in the artwork.
He goes on to say
"I write of beauty, and truth and thusness. I think the final word I would use as a criterion of value in the world of art, if I were reduced to a single word, would be the presence of life.... It is a force that goes beyond all arts or artists. It is the ultimate standard and it is attainable."
I find great solace in the fact that it is attainable and know that all those shards and seconds and misfits and not quite rights are just mileposts on the road to bringing that life into the here and now of my pottery.