Clay in the blood

It all started with a dream. Both my grandparents had it on the same night…

My grandfather was to go to a bar in a local town to meet a potter, who would tell him all he needed to learn. So he did. And he did. And he started a little pottery which grew and grew. And both of his sons became potters. And now his grandson is also becoming a potter.

But not me.

“Are you creative?” A woman asked me at the opening of one of my father’s exhibitions.

“No”, I answered, in all seriousness.

Well I’m not, not in their terms – I hate making pots. I can wax and glaze and make animals and pack them and do the office work. I have done every job in the pottery. But no, I’m not creative. Because I am not a Potter or an Artist.

And I really meant it!

I kind of forgot the A Level in art; all the oil paintings; the plays I had written, directed, adapted, translated, acted in; the dance; the cookery; the singing; the instruments; the crafting. Oh yes, and the poetry, novel chapters and journals full of writing stashed away in drawers. It was all hobbies, just silly stuff!

I had always defined myself thus: my father is Creative. If I do what he does, then I am Creative too. But I don’t. So I’m not Creative. Or an Artist. There’s nothing like having a successful, celebrated creative parent to make you think you couldn’t possibly live up to them.

And so over the past few years I have marched along my own path of creativity, pushing aside the male clay of my childhood, rejecting the creativity of my forefathers, in preference of my softer, more liminal female creative lineage: that of words, childrearing and cloth. Though recently I have taken to calling myself a Writer! I have had enough published at this stage to “own” that.

I was in the pottery this weekend just gone, watching my brother make pots. And the smell of the drying clay – sweet and dusty – the smell of my childhood which I thought was gone forever when the pottery went bankrupt two years ago. The feel of the clay between my fingers: cool potential. It’s in my blood. And I am so grateful that my little bro cajoled me into throwing a pot: to get back in the saddle, so to speak. And so glad that after seeing me do it, that my 5 year old wanted a turn too. He and his sister had been playing and moulding the clay into shapes. It is in their blood too. This creative spirit. This love of making. This earth. This clay.