Work by Eric Hoedemakers
An Accidental Journey
Why did ancient civilisations not just smear their pots with a single identifying mark? What was the idea behind decorating all those ceramics with stories and themes that put our modern flowery patterns to shame?
Imagine a time when time was more precious. Imagine you were making pots in the sun and like the others you just smeared it with a finger dipped in ash to make your mark. It would not come as much of a surprise to learn that most people did indeed just mark their pots slapdash. And yet, the banal identification of which pot belonged to you and which pot to someone else, did accidentally become an artform in itself. A precious few, seeing something they recognised in the imprint they had left in the clay, spontaneously added another mark to mimic something they had seen in the world around them. And, knowing us humans, in no time, we would have all been trying to outdo each other, with increasingly creative and inventive designs.
A basic maker’s mark made way for wonderment and play. And the extra time spent embellishing pottery had a perhaps unexpected spinoff. As the extra care in the making of it was visible, people were extra careful with it.
Function follows design
People are also careful with artisan-made work today. Unlike the ancient pot, it is no accident that it is wonderful, but no doubt it has the accident with the first decorated pots to thank for its existence. The care in the design and making of a thing is telegraphed to everyone who sees it. The design of those pots was functional and at the same time decorative. The pot took an accidental journey, because of an accidental mark. Marks protecting from accidents in a time when sustainability was a saver of time. When time was scarce.
When a journey was no accident. Yet, all the same, lucky for us, a maker went on an accidental journey.